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Become A Food Service Worker

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Working As A Food Service Worker

  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Getting Information
  • Training and Teaching Others
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Repetitive

  • $18,259

    Average Salary

What Does A Food Service Worker 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 Service Worker

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 Service Worker jobs

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Average Length of Employment
Restaurant Worker 2.4 years
Dietary Worker 2.3 years
Food Service Aide 2.3 years
Cook/Server 2.0 years
Cafeteria Worker 1.9 years
Food Prep 1.8 years
Kitchen Worker 1.7 years
Food Preparer 1.6 years
Food Handler 1.5 years
Fast Food Worker 1.5 years
Kitchen Staff 1.4 years
Cinder Crew Worker 1.4 years
Deli Worker 1.3 years
Cafe Worker 1.3 years
Fountain Worker 1.2 years
Top Employers Before
Cashier 22.0%
Cook 3.9%
Server 3.9%
Internship 3.4%
Volunteer 3.4%
Waitress 2.9%
Food Prep 2.8%
Top Employers After
Cashier 15.4%
Cook 5.5%
Server 4.2%
Internship 3.7%
Food Prep 3.0%
Cleaner 2.6%

Food Service Worker Demographics

Gender

Female

64.9%

Male

33.0%

Unknown

2.1%
Ethnicity

White

79.7%

Hispanic or Latino

11.6%

Asian

6.8%

Unknown

1.3%

Black or African American

0.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

62.0%

French

8.0%

German

5.3%

Mandarin

3.7%

Chinese

3.7%

Japanese

3.0%

Russian

2.1%

Portuguese

1.9%

Vietnamese

1.4%

Cantonese

1.2%

Korean

1.1%

Tagalog

1.1%

Italian

1.1%

Arabic

1.1%

Swedish

0.7%

Swahili

0.7%

Hmong

0.7%

Malay

0.4%

Filipino

0.4%

Polish

0.4%
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Food Service Worker Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

18.9%

Ashford University

7.5%

Liberty University

6.5%

Essex County College

5.2%

University of Wisconsin - Stout

4.8%

University of California - Davis

4.8%

Grand Canyon University

4.4%

Kaplan University

4.4%

Bowling Green State University

4.2%

Community College of Allegheny County

4.1%

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

3.8%

Onondaga Community College

3.8%

Pennsylvania State University

3.7%

University of Oregon

3.7%

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

3.4%

Central Texas College

3.4%

Iowa State University

3.4%

Houston Community College

3.3%

University of Maryland - University College

3.3%

Camden County College

3.3%
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Majors

Business

18.0%

Criminal Justice

7.8%

Psychology

7.6%

General Studies

7.0%

Medical Assisting Services

6.9%

Health Care Administration

6.7%

Nursing

6.7%

Culinary Arts

5.6%

Accounting

4.3%

Liberal Arts

3.3%

Nursing Assistants

3.3%

Computer Science

3.0%

Education

3.0%

Biology

2.7%

Communication

2.7%

Human Services

2.5%

Hospitality Management

2.4%

English

2.2%

Management

2.2%

Cosmetology

2.2%
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Degrees

Other

40.5%

Bachelors

28.0%

Associate

16.2%

Certificate

8.0%

Masters

3.3%

Diploma

3.1%

License

0.7%

Doctorate

0.2%
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Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Food Service Worker Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Food Service Worker Alpine Country Club, Inc. Demarest, NJ May 17, 2016 $27,987
Food Prep Worker Frank's Pizza of Mt. Arlington, Inc. Mount Arlington, NJ Sep 16, 2016 $26,270
Food Prep Workers CRU Ack LLC Nantucket, MA May 05, 2015 $24,835
Food Prep Workers Cape Cod Restaurants, Inc. Falmouth, MA Apr 01, 2016 $23,354
Food Prep Workers Cape Cod Restaurants, Inc. Falmouth, MA Apr 13, 2016 $23,354
Food Prep Workers Cape Cod Restaurants, Inc. Falmouth, MA Apr 11, 2016 $23,354
Food Prep Workers Cape Cod Restaurants, Inc. MA Apr 01, 2015 $23,228
Food Prep Workers CRU Ack LLC Nantucket, MA May 11, 2016 $23,207
Food Prep Workers Fella's, Inc. Vineyard Haven, MA May 01, 2016 $22,894
Food Service Worker Lake Naomi Club Pocono Pines, PA May 17, 2016 $22,498
Food Service Worker Lake Naomi Club Pocono Pines, PA May 01, 2016 $22,498
Food Service Worker Lake Naomi Club Pocono Pines, PA May 15, 2016 $22,498
Food Service Worker Cattle-Ac Steakhouse Sidney, MT Dec 20, 2016 $22,206
Food Service Worker Sutton Bay Golf, LLC Agar, SD May 01, 2016 $17,677
Food Service Worker MUY Pizza Southeast LLC Destin, FL Feb 19, 2016 $17,659
Food Service Worker Ocean City Donut Shops, Inc. Ocean City, MD Apr 01, 2016 $17,489
Food Service Worker El Portal, Inc. Marshalltown, IA Mar 01, 2015 $17,489
Food Service Worker Sutton Bay Golf, LLC Agar, SD Apr 21, 2015 $17,406
Food Service Worker Jalisco of Kingsport, Inc. Kingsport, TN Mar 02, 2015 $17,280
Food Service Worker Loma, Inc. Kingsport, TN Mar 02, 2015 $17,280
Food Service Worker Tres Rancheros Inc. AL Feb 01, 2015 $17,218
Food Service Worker MUY Pizza Southeast LLC Burlington, NC Apr 20, 2016 $16,827
Food Service Worker MUY Pizza Southeast LLC Greensboro, NC Apr 04, 2016 $16,827
Food Service Worker MUY Pizza Tejas LLC Kerrville, TX Oct 21, 2016 $16,827
Food Service Worker MUY Pizza Tejas LLC Kerrville, TX Oct 26, 2016 $16,827
Food Service Worker MUY Pizza Houston, LLC Lake Jackson, TX Nov 16, 2016 $16,827
Food Service Worker MUY Pizza Houston, LLC Liberty, TX Aug 12, 2016 $16,827
Food Service Worker MUY Pizza Southeast LLC Greensboro, NC Aug 12, 2016 $16,827

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Top Skills for A Food Service Worker

KitchenEquipmentCustomerServiceSkillsPrepFoodFoodServiceAreasSafetyStandardsColdFoodItemsPlaceFoodTraysFoodOrdersDishwasherFoodStorageAreasTrayLineCustomerOrdersDeliKitchenAreaServesMenuItemsIceCreamStoreFoodSuppliesResponsibilitiesiCommunicationSkills

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Top Food Service Worker Skills

  1. Kitchen Equipment
  2. Customer Service Skills
  3. Prep Food
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Cleaned the kitchen equipment and appliances and held responsibility of getting them repaired in case of any problem.
  • Provided exceptional customer service skills and loading and unloading of trucks.
  • clean behind soldiers prep food serve food and also gets a headcount of the soldiers as they enter the dining hall.
  • Clean and sanitize work area and equipment in order to maintain kitchen and food service areas according to standard.
  • Maintained health and safety standards in work areas to ensure employee and customer safety.

Top Food Service Worker Employers

Food Service Worker Videos

Food Worker Training Video - English

Personal Habits of a Food Service Worker

A Day in the Life of a Cafeteria Worker

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