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Work on a Food Service Crew: Job Description and Requirements

Food service crew members work together as a team to deliver diners an enjoyable experience. There are a number of positions available in this field and most have no education requirements. Employees generally advance with experience; however, some choose to attend a formal education program to earn promotion to management positions.

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Food Service Crew Job Description

A food service crew is made up of variety of workers who provide customer service, assist in kitchen processes, and generally ensure customers have an enjoyable dining experience. Most food service crew workers serve as waiters and waitresses, taking orders, serving food, and often handling payments. Bartenders take drink orders, serve beer and wine, prepare mixed drinks, and may need to verify patrons' ages by checking identification. Hosts and hostesses are responsible for taking reservations, welcoming and seating guests, and may also operate cash registers.

Food service crews typically include a bus staff, employees who assist waiters, waitresses, and bartenders in the dining room and kitchen. Specific duties vary, but typically include clearing off and setting tables, stocking supplies, cleaning dishes, and occasionally dropping off food, beverages, and condiments. Limited service diners, such as fast food restaurants, usually do not require a full-service crew and instead employ workers who handle all food preparation, serving, dish cleaning, and cashier duties.

Food Service Crew Requirements

Most food service positions are entry-level and require a high school diploma or less. Many employees have little work experience and are trained on the job. Employees may learn from more experienced workers and train in food handling and safety, customer service, and company procedures. Some employers provide trainees with instructional materials, such as booklets and videos, while others may provide classroom training that covers restaurant operations.

Formal Training Programs

Though this occupation has no strict education requirements, some food service workers receive advanced training in a vocational school. A worker interested in advancing to a food service management position may earn a degree in restaurant or hospitality management, such as the Associate of Applied Science in Food Service Management or Associate of Science in Culinary Arts.

Bartenders often gain additional training through bartending schools, which generally instruct students through simulated on-the-job training behind a practice bar. Students usually learn to use bar equipment, mix drinks, properly serve beers and wines, and sell to customers. They may study state laws, regulations, and alcohol awareness. Many bartending schools also help students find jobs and offer continuing education courses.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS,, the employment of food and beverage serving and related workers is expected to grow by an average rate of 12% between 2012 and 2022, while job opportunities for food service managers are projected to grow by about two percent during the same decade. The median annual salary earned by all food preparation and serving workers, as well as related occupations, was reported as $19,020 in May 2013 by the BLS. The same month, the BLS indicated that food service managers earned a median annual salary of $48,080.

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    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
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    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Teacher Education for Specific Subject Areas

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics