Job Description of a Food Server

Learn about the preparation needed to become a food server. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about salary and employment outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

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A food server records customer orders, brings them their food, and handles the bill. Training occurs on the job, and no education is needed, though employers prefer those with at least a high school education.

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Essential Information

Servers, also known as waiters and waitresses, provide food and beverage service in both restaurant and non-restaurant establishments. Food servers commonly work for restaurants, casual diners and other eating places. But they might work for accommodation industries or health care facilities. Food-servers usually work irregular hours, such as during the evening, weekends or holidays.

Required Education High school diploma is preferred by many employers
Other Requirements On-the-job training
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 3% for waiters and waitresses
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $19,250 for waiters and waitresses; $20,420 annually for non-restaurant food servers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Restaurant Food-Server Job Duties

Restaurant servers take menu orders from customers and promptly serve them. Responsibilities include addressing any customer questions, concerns or complaints; they might also be asked to explain menu items or food and beverage specials. Food server duties might also include calculating customers' food bills and collecting payments. They may also set up tables and clean tables after customers leave; it is common for food servers to remove dishes that customers are finished with during the course of their meals.

Some food-servers act as hostesses, greeting and seating customers and also providing them with menus. Others take beverage orders that might include alcohol; they must then check the identification of customers.

Non-Restaurant Food-Server Job Duties

Food-servers who work in a non-restaurant environment may be employed at such places as hospitals and hotels. They use carts or trays to carry and deliver foods, beverages, condiments and utensils. Duties may also include cleaning dishes and utensils. They must also ensure that the right foods are delivered to the correct recipients and according to any instructions or restrictions.

Duties might also include preparing food items, such as appetizers, salads, sandwiches or soups. Responsibilities may also include restocking ice, supplies and condiments. Preparing and delivering customers' bills and accepting customers' payments are also common.


Food-server job qualifications often include holding a high school diploma, though some institutions do not require this. Employers typically provide on-the-job training. Some employers may prefer prior experience or other training to formal schooling.

Food-servers must be able to work in a team. They should possess a professional and neat appearance and be able to communicate effectively with customers. Food-servers are expected to provide courteous service to their customers; they might use verbal and written communication techniques. Efficiency is also necessary. Food-servers also need to possess a good memory, as they need to retain customers' orders along with faces and names.

Knowledge of foreign languages is useful. Food-servers also need to have familiarity of food safety, food service regulations, health regulations and proper sanitation practices. They must have an awareness of food-handling rules.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Between 2014 and 2024, 3% employment growth is predicted for waiters and waitresses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In 2015, the BLS reported that the annual median salary for restaurant waiters and waitresses was $19,250, and the annual median salary for non-restaurant food servers was $20,420.

The ideal food server should have a friendly attitude, good memorization, and communication skills. Secondary education isn't required for this job, but is often preferred.

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