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Waitress Careers

Waitresses take food and beverage orders, typically in dining establishments. You don't need a lot of formal education to be a waitress, but you'll receive some on-the-job training. If you want to secure a lot of tips, you may want to brush up on your customer service.

Some waitresses depend on a notepad to make sure the orders come out right, fewer waitresses are able to memorize everyone's order. Even if the waitresses jotted down or memorized the order perfectly if there is a mistake with the food, they're the first to blame.

As a waitress, you'll probably have to deal with a lot of "hangry" people but, hopefully, once they've eaten, they'll be in a much better mood and leave a nice tip. There will undoubtedly be times that you have to deal with difficult customers, it's those days that make this job stressful.

What Does a Waitress 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.

How To Become a Waitress

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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Average Salary
$20,247
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
6%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
41,252
Job Openings

Waitress Career Paths

Top Careers Before Waitress

Cashier
25.9 %
Server
8.7 %

Top Careers After Waitress

Cashier
21.7 %
Server
9.0 %

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a Waitress

Waitresses in America make an average salary of $20,247 per year or $10 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $27,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $15,000 per year.
Average Salary
$20,247

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
New York, NY
Salary Range24k - 35k$30k$29,520
Newton, MA
Salary Range24k - 32k$28k$27,875
Washington, DC
Salary Range22k - 32k$27k$26,924
Daly City, CA
Salary Range23k - 29k$26k$26,304
Newport, RI
Salary Range20k - 28k$25k$24,520
Tucson, AZ
Salary Range19k - 25k$22k$22,317
$12k
$35k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Waiter/Server
Five Star Quality Care, Inc.
Five Star Quality Care, Inc.
03/27/2021
03/27/2021
$30,82503/27/2021
$30,825
Waiter (Banquets) NA
Waiter (Banquets) NA
Indian Health Service
Indian Health Service
06/28/2020
06/28/2020
$27,13106/28/2020
$27,131
Waiter NA
Waiter NA
Indian Health Service
Indian Health Service
06/28/2020
06/28/2020
$18,78306/28/2020
$18,783
Waitress
Waitress
Army Installation Management Command
Army Installation Management Command
11/25/2019
11/25/2019
$20,30711/25/2019
$20,307
Waitress
Waitress
Army Installation Management Command
Army Installation Management Command
10/25/2019
10/25/2019
$19,57610/25/2019
$19,576
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Waitress Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Waitress. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Waitress Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Waitress resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

Waitress Demographics

Gender

female

75.1 %

male

20.7 %

unknown

4.2 %

Ethnicity

White

59.5 %

Hispanic or Latino

18.1 %

Black or African American

11.4 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

62.0 %

French

7.0 %

Chinese

4.2 %
See More Demographics

Waitress Education

Majors

Business
17.1 %
Nursing
9.7 %

Degrees

High School Diploma

27.5 %

Certificate

25.8 %

Bachelors

25.1 %
See More Education Info
Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Waitress

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 19.3% of waitresses listed food preparation on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and customer-service skills are important as well.

  • Food Preparation, 19.3%
  • Customer Service, 6.9%
  • Customer Orders, 6.2%
  • POS, 5.6%
  • Communication, 5.5%
  • Other Skills, 56.5%
  • See All Waitress Skills

Best States For a Waitress

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a waitress. The best states for people in this position are New York, Washington, Hawaii, and Massachusetts. Waitresses make the most in New York with an average salary of $29,561. Whereas in Washington and Hawaii, they would average $29,082 and $27,851, respectively. While waitresses would only make an average of $27,819 in Massachusetts, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Arizona

Total Waitress Jobs:
1,141
Highest 10% Earn:
$29,000
Location Quotient:
1.37
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. New York

Total Waitress Jobs:
1,476
Highest 10% Earn:
$41,000
Location Quotient:
0.81
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Washington

Total Waitress Jobs:
680
Highest 10% Earn:
$37,000
Location Quotient:
0.66
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Waitress Employers

1. Waffle House
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$22,904
Waitresss Hired: 
6,416+
2. Pizza Hut
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$19,821
Waitresss Hired: 
4,942+
3. IHOP
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$21,511
Waitresss Hired: 
3,690+
4. Denny's
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$21,712
Waitresss Hired: 
2,426+
5. Buffalo Wild Wings
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$21,714
Waitresss Hired: 
2,107+
6. Cracker Barrel
3.7
Avg. Salary: 
$21,944
Waitresss Hired: 
2,035+

Waitress Videos