Food service careers extend far beyond the servers and chefs you see bustling about an eatery. Plenty of thought goes into the food sold and served to the public, and there are many people behind the scenes who assure everything runs smoothly.
If you’re interested in a food service career, the Omaha metro is a good place to be. As quite a “foodie” city, it’s where food service is hopping. Whether for seasoned food service pros or newcomers, there are always jobs available.
That’s not just because of Omaha’s low overall unemployment rate, but because new restaurants frequently debut while existing eateries expand and evolve. Omaha residents and visitors flock to restaurants to keep the demand for capable food service workers strong.
From delivery drivers to entrepreneurs in their own food trucks, food service careers are on the move. The U.S. Department of Labor says food & beverage server jobs have faster-than-average growth.
One benefit is entry-level positions usually require little formal education. New workers are typically provided on-the-job training. And while such entry-level jobs are not known for high pay, some specialized positions provide a nice living.
For example, a regional chef responsible for creating menu items and training other chefs can earn six figures annually. Restaurant servers, however, average about $20,000 a year, according to the Labor Department.
If you’re interested in a specialized food service role, find out what training and education is necessary beforehand.
For example, a sommelier should have server experience along with vast wine knowledge and perhaps certification or a degree. It’s not the type of job a person walks into without experience or education, and for good reason. Master sommeliers can earn around $150,000 annually because of their extensive knowledge and experience with wines.
Where to work
Aspiring food service workers should consider what work environment most appeals to them. Does the rapid pace of a packed restaurant sound great or does serving food to grateful seniors sound better? Do you want to prepare foods in a state-of-the-art facility or craft meals in a cultural landmark?
Restaurants are an obvious location for food service jobs, but the career field extends far beyond them. Hospitals, schools, jails, residential care facilities, grocery stores and hotel kitchens are just a few other places that need food service workers.
Some caterers and specialty chefs or bakers work out of their own homes. Some taste testers work in laboratories. Others drive menu-specific food trucks to parking lots or set up in corporate lobbies.
The answer to where food service workers work is simply – wherever there’s food.
A valuable resource for food service workers in the Omaha area is the Omaha Restaurant Association. This non-profit organization, in existence since 1944, looks out for those in the area food service industry while it promotes Omaha eateries.
The association provides scholarships to aspiring food service workers in partnership with the Institute for the Culinary Arts at Omaha’s Metropolitan Community College. The institute has a well-earned reputation for its hands-on curriculum and the success of its graduates.
The abundance of Omaha area restaurants makes eateries an obvious choice, but the large number of area medical centers also provides jobs for servers, preparers, cooks and nutritionists.
Many corporations also need food service workers. PayPal, Mutual of Omaha and Gallup, for example, provide cafeterias for their employees. Cultural institutions like the Holland Center offer everything from bar service and appetizers to complete suppers before performances.
Once you know what you want to do and where you want to work in food service, figure out what you need to do to get there. That may mean you enroll in courses or snag training elsewhere, but whatever it takes, pursue your choice with vigor.