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Become A Restaurant Server

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Working As A Restaurant Server

  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Getting Information
  • Selling or Influencing Others
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Deal with People

  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • $19,250

    Average Salary

What Does A Restaurant Server Do

Waiters and waitresses take orders and serve food and beverages to customers in dining establishments.

Duties

Waiters and waitresses typically do the following:

  • Greet customers, present menus, and explain daily specials to customers
  • Answer questions related to menu
  • Take food and beverage orders from customers
  • Relay food and beverage orders to the kitchen staff
  • Prepare drinks and food garnishes
  • Carry trays of food or drinks from the kitchen to the dining tables
  • Remove dirty dishes and glasses, and clean tables after customers finish meals
  • Prepare itemized checks and take payments from customers
  • Set up dining areas, refill condiments, and stock service areas

Waiters and waitresses, also called servers, are responsible for ensuring that customers have a satisfying dining experience. The specific duties of servers vary with the establishment in which they work.

In casual-dining restaurants that offer simple menu items, such as salads, soups, and sandwiches, servers provide fast, efficient, and courteous service. In fine-dining restaurants, where more complicated meals are prepared and are often served over several courses, waiters and waitresses emphasize personal, attentive treatment at a more leisurely pace. For example, they may suggest a beverage choice such as a wine recommendation with certain foods.

Waiters and waitresses may meet with managers and chefs before each shift to discuss the menu or specials, review ingredients for potential food allergies, or talk about any food safety concerns. They also discuss coordination between the kitchen and the dining room and review any customer service issues from the previous day or shift.

In establishments where alcohol is served, waiters and waitresses verify the age of customers and ensure that they meet legal requirements for the purchase of alcohol.

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How To Become A Restaurant Server

Most waiter and waitress jobs are entry level, and workers learn through short-term on-the-job training. No formal education or previous work experience is required to enter the occupation.

Most states require workers who serve alcoholic beverages to be at least 18 years of age, but some states require servers to be older. Waiters and waitresses who serve alcohol must be familiar with state and local laws concerning the sale of alcoholic beverages.

Education

No formal education is required to become a waiter or waitress.

Training

Most waiters and waitresses learn their skills through short-term on-the-job-training, usually lasting a few weeks. Trainees typically work with an experienced waiter or waitress, who teaches them basic serving techniques.

Some full-service restaurants provide new employees with some form of classroom training that alternates with periods of on-the-job work experience. These training programs communicate the operating philosophy of the restaurant, help new servers establish a rapport with other staff, teach serving techniques, and instill a desire to work as a team. They also discuss customer service situations and the proper ways to handle unpleasant circumstances or unruly customers.

Training for waiters and waitresses in establishments that serve alcohol typically involves learning state and local laws concerning the sale of alcoholic beverages. Some states, counties, and cities mandate the training, which typically lasts a few hours and can be taken online or in-house.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Waiters and waitresses must listen carefully to customers’ specific requests, ask questions, and relay the information to the kitchen staff, so that orders are prepared to the customers’ satisfaction.

Customer-service skills. Waiters and waitresses spend most of their work time serving customers. They should be friendly and polite and be able to develop a rapport with customers.

Detail oriented. Waiters and waitresses must record customers’ orders accurately. They need be able to recall the details of each order and match the food or drink orders to the correct customers.

Interpersonal skills. Waiters and waitresses should be courteous, tactful, and attentive as they deal with customers in all circumstances to resolve any issues that arise.

Physical stamina. Waiters and waitresses spend hours on their feet carrying heavy trays, dishes, and drinks.

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Restaurant Server jobs

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Restaurant Server Career Paths

Average Length of Employment
Head Waitress 3.3 years
Lead Server 3.0 years
Head Server 2.9 years
Bartender Server 2.7 years
Waitress/Bartender 2.6 years
Bartender 2.6 years
Fine Dining Server 2.4 years
Beverage Server 2.3 years
Cocktail Server 2.2 years
Food Server 2.2 years
Banquet Server 2.1 years
Restaurant Server 2.0 years
Caterer/Server 2.0 years
Dining Room Server 1.9 years
Waitress 1.9 years
Server And Hostess 1.9 years
Room Server 1.9 years
Server 1.8 years
Dining Car Server 1.7 years
Cocktail Waitress 1.7 years
Counter Server 1.6 years
Dishwasher/Server 1.5 years
Restaurant Cashier 1.4 years
Server/Barista 1.3 years
Server Assistant 1.3 years
Top Employers Before
Server 11.6%
Cashier 9.4%
Internship 6.3%
Hostess 4.4%
Manager 3.2%
Volunteer 3.0%
Bartender 2.6%
Top Employers After
Server 12.9%
Cashier 6.2%
Internship 5.8%
Bartender 4.9%
Manager 3.4%
Volunteer 3.2%
Teacher 2.8%
Hostess 2.6%

Restaurant Server Demographics

Gender

Female

59.5%

Male

38.0%

Unknown

2.5%
Ethnicity

White

76.2%

Hispanic or Latino

13.9%

Asian

7.9%

Unknown

1.5%

Black or African American

0.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

51.8%

French

11.7%

Japanese

5.9%

German

5.0%

Mandarin

4.5%

Chinese

4.5%

Russian

2.7%

Vietnamese

1.8%

Korean

1.8%

Cantonese

1.8%

Greek

1.4%

Italian

1.4%

Portuguese

1.4%

Swedish

0.9%

Ukrainian

0.9%

Thai

0.9%

Swahili

0.5%

Romanian

0.5%

Hmong

0.5%

Hawaiian

0.5%
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Restaurant Server Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

8.9%

Auburn University

6.5%

Mississippi State University

6.1%

Northern Arizona University

5.6%

University of Central Florida

5.6%

Northern Virginia Community College

5.6%

Johnson & Wales University

5.1%

Towson University

5.1%

Michigan State University

4.7%

Valencia College

4.7%

University of Central Oklahoma

4.7%

San Francisco State University

4.2%

Middle Tennessee State University

4.2%

University of Texas at San Antonio

4.2%

University of Vermont

4.2%

Old Dominion University

4.2%

Miami Dade College

4.2%

Kennesaw State University

4.2%

Florida International University

4.2%

Arizona State University

3.7%
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Majors

Business

21.6%

Psychology

8.3%

Hospitality Management

6.7%

Criminal Justice

5.7%

Communication

5.6%

Nursing

5.1%

Health Care Administration

4.6%

Marketing

4.3%

General Studies

4.0%

English

4.0%

Biology

3.6%

Kinesiology

3.5%

Accounting

3.4%

Liberal Arts

3.3%

Management

3.1%

Education

3.0%

Sociology

2.7%

Political Science

2.5%

Medical Assisting Services

2.5%

Finance

2.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

46.0%

Other

29.5%

Associate

10.8%

Masters

6.5%

Certificate

4.6%

Diploma

1.5%

Doctorate

0.7%

License

0.5%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills for A Restaurant Server

SeasonalMenuItemsAlcoholicBeveragesCustomerServiceSkillsFoodOrdersCustomerSatisfactionBanquetPOSQualityCustomerServiceFoodItemsFoodPreparationDrinkOrdersCreditCardTransactionsDailySpecialsCommunicationSkillsHighVolumeFoodServiceMicrosRoomServiceCustomerOrdersNewServers

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Top Restaurant Server Skills

  1. Seasonal Menu Items
  2. Alcoholic Beverages
  3. Customer Service Skills
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Memorize details of daily specials, seasonal menu items and options, as well as rotating craft beer options.
  • Checked patrons' identification to ensure that they met minimum age requirements for consumption of alcoholic beverages.
  • Completed excellent customer service skills in all wine suggestions; bottle sales: and food orders.
  • Take food orders and relay orders to kitchens or serving counters so they can be filled.
  • Collaborated in the marketing aspect of new products Ensured customer satisfaction by remaining friendly and accessible.

Top Restaurant Server Employers

Restaurant Server Videos

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

National Waiters Day: A day in the life of a maître d' with Paulo de Tarso

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