Cafeteria Attendant: Job Duties & Requirements

Explore the typical duties associated with this occupation, in addition to the salary expectation and employment outlook of a cafeteria attendant. Keep reading to learn more about how to enter this occupation.

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Career Definition for a Cafeteria Attendant

Cafeteria attendants work in restaurants, cafeterias and other food service establishments to assist waiters, waitresses and bartenders in serving customers. Cafeteria attendants may sometimes also be called food runners or back waiters. Common duties of cafeteria attendants include removing dirty dishes, cleaning tables, stocking serving areas with supplies and re-supplying linens, silverware, dishes and glasses.

Education No formal education required, though employers prefer candidates with a high school diploma or equivalent
Job Duties Remove dirty dishes, clean tables, stock serving areas with supplies
Median Earnings (2015)* $9.27 per hour (all dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 6% growth (all dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

There is no formal education requirement to work as a cafeteria attendant. Many employers, however, do prefer to hire workers with a high school diploma or their GED. People working in food service should receive basic training in food preparation and safe handling techniques from their employers.

Skill Requirements

While there are few skill requirements to work as a cafeteria attendant, being able to read, write and speak English fluently will be helpful. Basic knowledge of safe food handling and preparation techniques and basic math skills will also help you in a career in food service.

Employment and Economic Outlook

From 2014-2024, job growth among cafeteria attendants is predicted to be about average compared to all occupations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment of dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers to grow 6% during this time frame. According to BLS figures, the median earnings for dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers in 2015 were $9.27 per hour.

Alternate Career Options

Here are some examples of alternative career options:


Although no formal education is required for bartenders, those interested in employment at upscale restaurants and bars often take bartending classes and gain some work experience in smaller establishments. Age requirements vary by state. Faster-than-average job growth of 10% was predicted by the BLS during the 2014-2024 decade, and bartenders earned a median hourly wage of $9.39 in 2015.


The BLS projected a below-average increase of 4% in positions from 2014-2024 for cooks who prepare foods ranging from salads to entrees in homes, restaurants and other types of establishments serving foods. No formal training is required, although some individuals take courses in vocational schools, community colleges and culinary institutes. In 2015, the BLS reported a median wage of $10.44 per hour.

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