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Become A Food Server

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Working As A Food Server

  • Getting Information
  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Repetitive

  • $19,240

    Average Salary

What Does A Food Server Do

Food and beverage serving and related workers perform a variety of customer service, food preparation, and cleaning duties in restaurants, cafeterias, and other eating and drinking establishments.

Duties

Food and beverage serving and related workers typically do the following:

  • Greet customers and answer their questions about menu items and specials
  • Take food or drink orders from customers
  • Prepare food and drink orders, such as sandwiches, salads, and coffee
  • Relay customers’ orders to other kitchen staff
  • Serve food and drinks to customers at a counter, at a stand, or in a hotel room
  • Clean assigned work areas, dining tables, or serving counters
  • Replenish and stock service stations, cabinets, and tables
  • Set tables or prepare food trays for new customers

Food and beverage serving and related workers are the front line of customer service in restaurants, cafeterias, and other food service establishments. Depending on the establishment, they take customers’ food and drink orders and serve food and beverages.

Most work as part of a team, helping coworkers to improve workflow and customer service. The job titles of food and beverage serving and related workers vary with where they work and what they do.

The following are examples of types of food and beverage serving and related workers: 

Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food, are employed primarily by fast-food restaurants. They take food and beverage orders, prepare or retrieve items when ready, fill cups with beverages, and accept customers’ payments. They also heat food items and make salads and sandwiches.

Counter attendants take orders and serve food over a counter in snack bars, cafeterias, movie theaters, and coffee shops. They fill cups with coffee, soda, and other beverages, and may prepare fountain specialties, such as milkshakes and ice cream sundaes. Counter attendants take carryout orders from diners and wrap or place items in containers. They clean counters, prepare itemized bills, and accept customers’ payments.

Food servers, nonrestaurant, serve food to customers outside of a restaurant environment. Many deliver room service meals in hotels or meals to hospital rooms. Some act as carhops, bringing orders to customers in parked cars.

Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers—sometimes collectively referred to as bus staff—help waiters, waitresses, and bartenders by cleaning and setting tables, removing dirty dishes, and keeping serving areas stocked with supplies. They also may help waiters and waitresses by bringing meals out of the kitchen, distributing dishes to diners, filling water glasses, and delivering condiments. Cafeteria attendants stock serving tables with food trays, dishes, and silverware. They sometimes carry trays to dining tables for customers. Bartender helpers keep bar equipment clean and glasses washed. 

Hosts and hostesses greet customers and manage reservation and waiting lists. They may direct customers to coatrooms, restrooms, or a waiting area until their table is ready. Hosts and hostesses assign guests to tables suitable for the size of their group, escort patrons to their seats, and provide menus. They also take reservations over the phone, arrange parties, and help with other customers’ requests.

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How To Become A Food Server

Most food and beverage service jobs are entry-level jobs and do not require a high school diploma. The majority of workers receive short-term on-the-job training.

Most states require workers, such as nonrestaurant servers, who serve alcoholic beverages to be 18 years of age or older.

Education

There are no formal education requirements for becoming a food and beverage serving worker.

Training

Most workers learn their skills through short-term on-the-job training, usually lasting several weeks. Training includes basic customer service, kitchen safety, safe food-handling procedures, and good sanitation habits.

Some employers, particularly those in fast-food restaurants, teach new workers with the use of self-study programs, online programs, audiovisual presentations, or instructional booklets that explain food preparation and service procedures. However, most food and beverage serving and related workers learn their skills by watching and working with more experienced workers.

Some full-service restaurants provide new dining room employees with classroom training sessions that alternate with periods of on-the-job work experience. The training communicates the operating philosophy of the restaurant, helps new employees establish a personal rapport with other staff, teaches employees formal serving techniques, and instills a desire in the staff to work as a team.

Some nonrestaurant servers and bartender helpers who work in establishments where alcohol is served may need training on state and local laws concerning the sale of alcoholic beverages. Some states, counties, and cities mandate such training, which typically lasts a few hours and can be taken online or in-house.

Advancement

Advancement opportunities are limited to those who remain on the job for a long time. However, some dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers may advance to waiter, waitress, or bartender positions as they learn the basics of serving food or preparing drinks.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Food and beverage serving and related workers must listen carefully to their customers’ orders and relay them correctly to the kitchen staff so that the orders are prepared to the customers’ request.

Customer-service skills. Food service establishments rely on good food and customer service to keep customers and succeed in a competitive industry. As a result, workers should be courteous and be able to attend to customers’ requests.

Physical stamina. Food and beverage serving and related workers spend most of their worktime standing, carrying heavy trays, cleaning work areas, and attending to customers’ needs.

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Food Server Videos

Server (fine dining), Career Video from drkit.org

Food and Beverage Server - emerit Training and Certification

Food Server Jobs

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Average Length of Employment
Head Server 2.9 years
Bartender Server 2.7 years
Waitress/Bartender 2.6 years
Fine Dining Server 2.5 years
Restaurant Server 2.3 years
Beverage Server 2.3 years
Food Server 2.0 years
Server And Hostess 1.9 years
Server 1.8 years
Food Expeditor 1.8 years
Fast Food Server 1.6 years
Counter Server 1.6 years
Server Assistant 1.4 years
Server/Barista 1.3 years
Food Runner/Busser 1.3 years
Food Runner 1.3 years
Top Careers Before Food Server
Cashier 18.7%
Server 6.8%
Internship 5.0%
Volunteer 4.7%
Hostess 4.2%
Waitress 3.7%
Bartender 3.6%
Teller 3.4%
Manager 2.8%
Cook 2.6%
Top Careers After Food Server
Cashier 15.7%
Server 8.3%
Internship 4.5%
Bartender 4.1%
Teller 3.8%
Volunteer 3.6%
Manager 3.2%
Waitress 2.9%
Cook 2.6%

Do you work as a Food Server?

Food Server Demographics

Gender

Female

65.2%

Male

32.3%

Unknown

2.5%
Ethnicity

White

58.3%

Hispanic or Latino

19.8%

Black or African American

10.0%

Asian

8.0%

Unknown

3.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

57.8%

French

8.6%

Mandarin

3.8%

Chinese

3.8%

Japanese

3.3%

Cantonese

3.1%

Italian

2.4%

German

2.4%

Portuguese

1.9%

Tagalog

1.7%

Arabic

1.7%

Russian

1.5%

Vietnamese

1.4%

Polish

1.4%

Korean

1.2%

Hmong

1.0%

Thai

0.9%

Filipino

0.9%

Swedish

0.7%

Romanian

0.7%
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Food Server Education

Schools

College of Southern Nevada

15.5%

University of Phoenix

12.7%

University of Nevada - Las Vegas

10.5%

San Francisco State University

4.5%

Kaplan University

4.2%

Orange Coast College

4.2%

University of Nevada - Reno

3.9%

San Diego State University

3.9%

Long Beach City College

3.8%

Bakersfield College

3.8%

Arizona State University

3.6%

Northern Arizona University

3.5%

Johnson & Wales University

3.4%

California State University - Sacramento

3.4%

Grand Valley State University

3.2%

Liberty University

3.2%

California State University - Fullerton

3.2%

Ashford University

3.2%

Temple University

3.1%

Sierra College

3.1%
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Majors

Business

19.2%

Psychology

8.4%

Nursing

7.9%

Criminal Justice

7.0%

General Studies

5.5%

Medical Assisting Services

5.3%

Health Care Administration

5.3%

Communication

4.6%

Accounting

4.4%

Hospitality Management

3.9%

Education

3.4%

Biology

3.4%

Liberal Arts

3.1%

English

3.0%

Sociology

2.9%

Culinary Arts

2.8%

Management

2.7%

Kinesiology

2.6%

Computer Science

2.5%

Marketing

2.3%
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Degrees

Other

36.9%

Bachelors

36.2%

Associate

14.7%

Certificate

5.6%

Masters

3.7%

Diploma

1.8%

License

0.6%

Doctorate

0.3%
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Food Server Videos

Server (fine dining), Career Video from drkit.org

Food and Beverage Server - emerit Training and Certification

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Part Time
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Real Food Server Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Food Servers, Nonrestaurant Flannery Hardware, Inc. New York, NY Jun 21, 2012 $36,962
Food Server E & J Restaurants LLC Oklahoma City, OK Feb 26, 2008 $27,131
Food Prepare/Server Swordfish Enterprises Inc. MA May 20, 2016 $26,922
Food Prepare/Server Swordfish Enterprises Inc. MA May 27, 2016 $26,922
Food Server Glen Head Country Club Glen Head, NY May 01, 2015 $24,794
Food Server Cold Spring Country Club, Inc. Cold Spring Harbor, NY May 01, 2015 $24,794
Food Server Fresh Meadow Country Club Lake Success, NY Apr 30, 2015 $24,794
Food Server The Seawane Golf and Country Club, Inc. Hewlett Harbor, NY Apr 30, 2015 $24,794
Food Server G & M Deli Grocery Store Inc. New York, NY Jan 31, 2008 $24,606
Food Prepare/Server Swordfish Enterprises, Inc. MA Apr 15, 2014 $24,606
Food Server Glen Head Country Club NY May 15, 2013 $24,188
Food Server Glen Head Country Club, Inc. Glen Head, NY May 01, 2016 $23,541
Food Server The Seawane Golf and Country Club, Inc. Hewlett Harbor, NY Apr 30, 2016 $23,541
Food Server Cold Spring Country Club, Inc. Cold Spring Harbor, NY Apr 01, 2016 $23,541
Food Server WHI Hotel LLC Wilsonville, OR Aug 27, 2015 $20,500
Food Server WHI Hotel LLC Wilsonville, OR Feb 25, 2016 $20,500
Food Server WHI Hotel LLC Wilsonville, OR Feb 03, 2016 $20,500
Food Server WHI Hotel LLC Wilsonville, OR Sep 15, 2015 $20,500
Food Server Lago AZUL LLC Hailey, ID Oct 25, 2011 $18,262
Food Server Lago AZUL LLC Hailey, ID May 12, 2011 $18,262
Food Server, Non Restraunt Rainbow King Lodge Inc. Iliamna, AK Jun 01, 2015 $18,261
Food Server Regency CSP Ventures LP Custer, SD Apr 01, 2016 $18,073
Food Server Cotton Bayou Marina Inc. AL Nov 07, 2014 $17,990
Food Servers Regency CSP Ventures LP SD Apr 15, 2014 $17,760
Food Servers, Restaurant Chief Enterprises Custer, SD Apr 30, 2015 $17,740
Food Server Kemper Sports Management, Inc. Valentine, NE May 09, 2016 $17,677

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Top Skills for A Food Server

  1. Customer Service
  2. Food Safety
  3. Food Orders
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Worked with a team of servers in a fast-paced environment providing consistent quality customer service Activities
  • Followed food safety procedures according to company policies and health and sanitation regulations.
  • Prepare various food orders before and during store hours along with providing substantial customer service at numerous positions within the park.
  • Prepare alcohol or non-alcohol beverages.
  • Prepare menu items following IKEA s food concept according to specifications using approved ingredients and in accordance with health standards.

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Top 10 Best States for Food Servers

  1. Hawaii
  2. Nevada
  3. North Dakota
  4. South Dakota
  5. Minnesota
  6. Vermont
  7. Maine
  8. Indiana
  9. Iowa
  10. Massachusetts
  • (122 jobs)
  • (391 jobs)
  • (69 jobs)
  • (56 jobs)
  • (536 jobs)
  • (41 jobs)
  • (132 jobs)
  • (638 jobs)
  • (407 jobs)
  • (563 jobs)

Top Food Server Employers

Jobs From Top Food Server Employers

Food Server Videos

Server (fine dining), Career Video from drkit.org

Food and Beverage Server - emerit Training and Certification

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