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Become A Waitstaff

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Working As A Waitstaff

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

  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • $19,692

    Average Salary

What Does A Waitstaff 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 Waitstaff

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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Waitstaff Demographics

Gender

Female

71.1%

Male

27.3%

Unknown

1.6%
Ethnicity

White

65.4%

Hispanic or Latino

15.7%

Black or African American

9.4%

Asian

5.8%

Unknown

3.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

52.2%

French

8.9%

Italian

6.7%

Russian

4.4%

Portuguese

3.3%

Japanese

3.3%

Arabic

3.3%

Filipino

2.2%

German

2.2%

Tagalog

2.2%

Cantonese

2.2%

Choctaw

1.1%

Swedish

1.1%

Chinese

1.1%

Greek

1.1%

Turkish

1.1%

Dutch

1.1%

Dakota

1.1%

Hmong

1.1%
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Waitstaff Education

Schools

University of Massachusetts Amherst

7.4%

Guam Community College

6.5%

Boston College

5.6%

Grand Rapids Community College

5.6%

Hudson Valley Community College

5.6%

Michigan State University

5.6%

University of Rhode Island

5.6%

University of Vermont

5.6%

Plymouth State University

5.6%

University of Phoenix

5.6%

Boston University

5.6%

University of Maine

4.6%

Central Michigan University

4.6%

Community College of Rhode Island

4.6%

University of Southern Maine

3.7%

Appalachian State University

3.7%

Pennsylvania State University

3.7%

Tunxis Community College

3.7%

Wentworth Institute of Technology

3.7%

Rhode Island College

3.7%
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Majors

Business

21.8%

Psychology

8.8%

Criminal Justice

7.2%

Nursing

7.0%

Communication

5.4%

Biology

4.8%

Graphic Design

4.4%

Medical Assisting Services

4.2%

Liberal Arts

4.0%

English

4.0%

General Studies

3.6%

Health Care Administration

3.6%

Hospitality Management

3.6%

Fine Arts

3.0%

Nursing Assistants

3.0%

Marketing

2.6%

Management

2.4%

Sociology

2.4%

Theatre

2.2%

Environmental Science

2.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

40.7%

Other

34.6%

Associate

12.3%

Certificate

5.7%

Masters

4.0%

License

0.9%

Doctorate

0.9%

Diploma

0.7%
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Real Waitstaff Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Waitstaff Wianno Club MA May 05, 2015 $34,143
Waitstaff Nantucket Golf Club, Inc. Siasconset, MA May 09, 2016 $29,114
Waitstaff The Westmoor Club MA May 31, 2014 $27,507
Waitstaff The Wianno Club MA May 05, 2014 $27,027
Waitstaff The Wianno Club MA May 14, 2013 $26,630
Waitstaff Scout Sea Crest Management, LLC North Falmouth, MA May 01, 2015 $26,234
Waitstaff Nantucket Island Management, LLC Nantucket, MA Apr 10, 2015 $25,983
Waitstaff Nantucket Golf Club, Inc. Siasconset, MA May 11, 2015 $25,983
Waitstaff Wianno Club, Inc. MA May 07, 2016 $23,813
Waitstaff 512 Main Street, Inc. Chatham, MA Apr 07, 2016 $23,813
Waitstaff The Bayberry Group, Inc. Glen Arbor, MI Apr 01, 2015 $23,166
Waitstaff The Bayberry Group, Inc. MI Apr 01, 2014 $22,268
Waitstaff Caffe Prego, LLC Ogunquit, ME May 04, 2016 $21,580
Waitstaff The Bayberry Group, Inc. Glen Arbor, MI Apr 01, 2016 $21,517
Waitstaff Boughton Hotel Corporation ME May 01, 2013 $21,058
Waitstaff Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation ND Apr 01, 2014 $20,953
Waistaff Nantucket Golf Club MA May 01, 2013 $20,849
Waitstaff Nantucket Island Management, LLC MA Apr 01, 2013 $20,849
Waitstaff Prego, LLC. ME May 01, 2015 $20,119
Waitstaff Prego, LLC. ME May 01, 2014 $20,077
Waitstaff Sagacious, Inc. SD May 17, 2013 $19,701
Waitstaff Prego, LLC ME May 15, 2013 $19,680
Waitstaff Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation Medora, ND Apr 12, 2016 $19,534
Waitstaff Camino Real, LLC NC Mar 01, 2015 $17,969

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Top Skills for A Waitstaff

  1. Customer Service
  2. Kitchen Equipment
  3. Food Safety
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Produced consistent, detail-oriented, satisfying customer service for diners in busy upscale restaurant.
  • Followed food safety procedures according to company policies and health and sanitation regulations.
  • Delivered food and beverages to customers while maintaining neighborhood friendly atmosphere.
  • Be able to correctly and effectively communicate menu specials, menu items, wine and alcohol menu.
  • Clean tables or counters after patrons have finished dining.

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Top 10 Best States for Waitstaffs

  1. Hawaii
  2. Nevada
  3. Arizona
  4. Maine
  5. Massachusetts
  6. West Virginia
  7. Rhode Island
  8. Vermont
  9. North Dakota
  10. Minnesota
  • (80 jobs)
  • (233 jobs)
  • (485 jobs)
  • (93 jobs)
  • (467 jobs)
  • (140 jobs)
  • (65 jobs)
  • (33 jobs)
  • (53 jobs)
  • (456 jobs)

Top Waitstaff Employers

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