Top 10 Jobs For Laid-Off Restaurant Workers

While restaurants and many food service jobs are being cut due to the COVID-19 pandemic, other industries are hiring. Learn about the best jobs to apply to.
An empty restaurant. (Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash)

An empty restaurant. (Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash)

As one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors of the economy, the restaurant industry had employed as many as 10.6 million US workers. However, the coronavirus pandemic has many restaurants and bars choosing to close their doors temporarily or pivot to curbside service, dramatically cutting jobs for waitstaff and restaurant workers. If you’ve been a causality of recent layoffs in the foodservice sector, it may seem daunting to find work but there are options.

A few industries are actually experiencing a bit of a boom rather than a bust as demand for certain products and services shift to support social distancing efforts. These include not only food delivery and grocery stores, but also customer service-oriented fields. And for those who have fallen on difficult times and are currently unemployed, there are resources to help restaurant and foodservice workers at both the national and local levels.

If you’re willing to be flexible about where you land for the next few months, plenty of industries have opened their doors and specifically invited laid-off restaurant workers to fill vacancies created by increased demand. Roll up your sleeves and dig into this list of options for the recently unemployed.

Top 10 Remote Work Jobs

1. Food and Grocery Delivery

Average job salary: $46,237
Required education: High school diploma or equivalent

Even if restaurants have temporarily shut their doors, communities still need to eat. Grocery and food delivery services have stepped in to fill the gap and business is booming. If you’ve got a car or a bike and are willing to hustle, opportunities abound to work for online services such as Instacart, Uber Eats, Door Dash and more.

Most food delivery drivers are required to demonstrate they have a safe driving record as well as good customer service and time management skills. Because of the ebb and flow of the work, many advise you should view these positions as a side hustle rather than a full-time job.

2. Grocery Store Staff

Average job salary: $31,194
Required education: High school diploma or equivalent

Grocery store workers are still staffing stores all over America, stocking shelves and ringing up groceries so families can eat, work, and stay safely at home. These workers have traditionally faced low pay and limited benefits, especially for entry-level positions. The recent risks grocery clerks and cashiers experience have prompted a push for hazard pay, better working conditions, and benefits like paid sick leave across the country.

Grocery store staff can fill a variety of positions, including those that work directly with food preparation. Restaurant workers have superior skills for these types of positions, although additional food safety courses may be required.

3. Customer Service Representative

Average job salary: $35,830
Required education: High school diploma or similar

Many food service workers and wait staff possess excellent customer service and communication skills and that experience serves them well in other industries. That includes traditional customer service and call center positions, many of which are still operating via phone or online.

Many customer service representatives have positions that enable them to work remotely, but do require some additional software and VOIP technology. Being a customer service representative also demands a quiet working environment and the ability to sit at a computer for long stretches of time.

4. Private chef

Average job salary: $41,240
Required education: Degree in culinary arts preferred, certifications available

Chef to the rich and famous is the cream of the crop in terms of high-profile places to land if you’ve lost your job behind the counter. For chefs and cooks who have superior skills and experience, snagging a job as a private chef means job security in uncertain times. Many chefs in traditional restaurant environments report high levels of stress, so a gig as a private chef may bring some much needed work-life balance.

To obtain a position as a private chef, a degree in culinary arts is preferred but not required. Certifications for private chefs have two tiers with the basic certification requiring three years culinary experience and one year experience as a private chef. Certified executive private chefs have three years experience as private chefs and advanced food preparation and food safety experience.

5. Nanny

Average job salary: $30,001
Required education: High school diploma, Bachelors in child development preferred

While becoming a nanny may not seem like a natural fit, the position employs quite a few skills that servers and wait staff exemplify daily. Childcare is a service industry that utilizes interpersonal skills, patience, and good communication. While many families prefer that nannies have degrees in child development, others are willing to accept candidates for the position who have experience rather than educational qualifications.

Compensation is rather low depending on the location of the position and whether the situation is a live-in placement. Hours for nannies can also be long and unpredictable, especially for those who reside in the home. Culinary skills are definitely an advantage, however, and will come in handy for much more than presenting nutritious alternatives to peanut butter and jelly.

6. Food Writer

Average job salary: $88,000
Required education: Bachelors in communications, journalism, or english preferred

For high-profile culinary entrepreneurs or chefs, becoming a food writer for a local or national publication is worth looking into. Having a culinary background will give you a headstart on other candidates and demonstrating you had the chops to survive in the industry gives you credibility with readers.

While the world of journalism and freelance writing doesn’t have a lot of job security, there may be increased demand in the near future as more Americans hunker down and cook in their own kitchens. As you can imagine, food writers need excellent written communication skills. Being able to describe how to produce a restaurant-quality creme brulee at home isn’t a skill set everyone possesses.

7. Food Stylist or Photographer

Average job salary: $65,000
Required education: Degree in culinary arts, photography, arts or equivalent experience

All those beautiful spreads in magazines take time and talent to produce, specifically the skills of experienced food stylists and photographers. Food stylists are in charge of making the food look gorgeous, while photographers specialize in working with lighting and editing photos to produce the desired effect. Often, but not always, food stylists can also be food photographers.

This career relies heavily upon the food stylist or photographer earning clients through an impressive portfolio of work. Some educational prerequisites or advanced training may be helpful, but ultimately the beauty (and value) of a perfectly balanced bowl or plate is in the eye of the beholder.

8. Nutritionist or Dietitian

Average job salary: $60,370
Required education: Bachelor’s degree in nutrition, health, food science, certification preferred

The good news is many food service workers and chefs can leverage their passion to feed others into a career in healthcare. Becoming a nutritionist means you’ll still be creating menus and teaching others with medical conditions how to feed themselves for optimal health outcomes.

While anyone can be a nutritionist, becoming a dietitian does require an advanced degree in a related field of health or food science. Many states also require registered dietitians to complete a certification program as well as coursework approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).

9. Product Development R&D Chef

Average job salary: $62,407
Required education: Degree in culinary arts required

A career-focused on recipe development and culinary innovation is a dream job for many chefs, but these positions require a blend of culinary and marketing skills that can be difficult to achieve. Many R&D chefs work behind the scenes in the food industry, helping to create and bring new culinary products to market or develop new restaurant menu items.

Most companies won’t consider candidates for R&D positions without a formal culinary education and at least three years of experience as an executive chef or kitchen manager. R&D chefs must possess a flair for creativity and a hunger for innovation.

10. UPS, FedEx, and Amazon Package Handlers

Average job salary: $32,289
Required education: High school diploma or equivalent

Amazon announced recently that they’ll hire 100,000 workers nationwide in their fulfillment centers or as shopping team members to meet increased demand. In a letter to Amazon customers and employees in late March, Jeff Bezos invited restaurant workers to apply for these positions, saying “We hope people who’ve been laid off will come work with us until they’re able to go back to the jobs they had.”

UPS and FedEx are also staffing up with more package handlers in some areas as those who are home-bound order more online. Generally, warehouse workers don’t need to meet specific educational requirements but drivers for UPS, Amazon, or FedEx need to have a clean driving record.

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The Rantt Rundown

The economic fallout of national lockdowns related to the spread of COVID-19 have caused many restaurant workers to face uncertain futures, layoffs, and widespread unemployment. While many are hopeful the foodservice industry will rebound from this time of unprecedented distress, laid-off restaurant workers may have to pursue job prospects in other industries until restaurants can recover and reopen their doors.

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