Career Detail


Food Servers
“Thanks for the Tip”
Waiters and waitresses, the largest group of these workers, take customers' orders, serve food and beverages, prepare itemized checks, and sometimes accept payment.
The Job
Specific duties vary considerably, depending on the establishment. In coffee shops serving routine menu items such as salads, soups, and sandwiches, servers are expected to provide fast, efficient, and courteous service. In fine dining restaurants, where more complicated meals are prepared and often served over several courses, waiters and waitresses provide more formal service emphasizing mores personal attention. They may recommend certain dishes and identify ingredients or explain how various items on the menu are prepared. Waiters and waitresses sometimes perform the duties of other food and beverage service workers including escorting guests to tables, clearing and setting up tables, or operating a cash register. Workers are on their feet most of the time and often carry heavy trays of food, dishes, and glassware. Many have flexible schedules and work evenings, weekends, and holidays.
Work Environment
Restaurants and places of dining. During busy dining periods, they are under pressure to serve customers quickly and efficiently.
College Majors
not required
Minimum Qualifications
There are no specific educational requirements for most food and beverage service jobs. Many employers prefer to hire high school graduates for waiter and waitress, bartender, and host and hostess positions.
Personality traits helpful for this career
exhibit excellent personal qualities-such as a neat clean appearance, a well-spoken manner, an ability to work as a part of a team
Quick Facts
  • More than one-fifth of these workers were 16 to 19 years old, about five times the proportion for all workers.
  • Tips comprise a major portion of earnings, so tough competition is expected for jobs in fine dining and more popular restaurants where potential tips are greatest.
Compensation and Outlook
In May 2008, median hourly wages (including tips) of waiters and waitresses were $8.01. The middle 50 percent earned between $7.32 and $10.35. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $6.73, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $14.26 an hour.
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