Waiters and Waitresses

Take orders and serve food and beverages to patrons at tables in dining establishment.

Sample of reported job titles: Banquet Server, Buffet Server, Cocktail Server, Food Runner, Food Server, Restaurant Server, Server, Waiter, Waitress, Waitstaff

Occupation-Specific Information

Tasks

  • Take orders from patrons for food or beverages.
  • Check with customers to ensure that they are enjoying their meals, and take action to correct any problems.
  • Check patrons' identification to ensure that they meet minimum age requirements for consumption of alcoholic beverages.
  • Collect payments from customers.
  • Write patrons' food orders on order slips, memorize orders, or enter orders into computers for transmittal to kitchen staff.
  • Prepare checks that itemize and total meal costs and sales taxes.
  • Present menus to patrons and answer questions about menu items, making recommendations upon request.
  • Remove dishes and glasses from tables or counters, and take them to kitchen for cleaning.
  • Serve food or beverages to patrons, and prepare or serve specialty dishes at tables as required.
  • Clean tables or counters after patrons have finished dining.
  • Prepare tables for meals, including setting up items such as linens, silverware, and glassware.
  • Explain how various menu items are prepared, describing ingredients and cooking methods.
  • Assist host or hostess by answering phones to take reservations or to-go orders, and by greeting, seating, and thanking guests.
  • Escort customers to their tables.
  • Perform cleaning duties, such as sweeping and mopping floors, vacuuming carpet, tidying up server station, taking out trash, or checking and cleaning bathroom.
  • Inform customers of daily specials.
  • Prepare hot, cold, and mixed drinks for patrons, and chill bottles of wine.
  • Roll silverware, set up food stations, or set up dining areas to prepare for the next shift or for large parties.
  • Stock service areas with supplies such as coffee, food, tableware, and linens.
  • Bring wine selections to tables with appropriate glasses, and pour the wines for customers.
  • Fill salt, pepper, sugar, cream, condiment, and napkin containers.
  • Describe and recommend wines to customers.
  • Perform food preparation duties, such as preparing salads, appetizers, and cold dishes, portioning desserts, and brewing coffee.
  • Provide guests with information about local areas, including directions.
  • Garnish and decorate dishes in preparation for serving.

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Technology Skills

  • Instant messaging software — Blink
  • Point of sale POS software — Compris Advanced Manager's Workstation; Hospitality Control Solutions Aloha Point-of-Sale; Intuit QuickBooks Point of Sale; NCR Advanced Checkout Solution; 4 more
  • Web page creation and editing software — Facebook Hot technology
Hot technology
Hot Technologies are requirements most frequently included across all employer job postings.

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Occupational Requirements

Work Activities

  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
  • Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
  • Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
  • Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
  • Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
  • Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
  • Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
  • Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
  • Selling or Influencing Others — Convincing others to buy merchandise/goods or to otherwise change their minds or actions.
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

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Detailed Work Activities

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Work Context

  • Contact With Others — 89% responded “Constant contact with others.”
  • Spend Time Walking and Running — 82% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Spend Time Standing — 79% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 73% responded “Every day.”
  • Physical Proximity — 51% responded “Moderately close (at arm's length).”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions — 64% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 40% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team — 39% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Deal With External Customers — 55% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 39% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 61% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 43% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others — 43% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 37% responded “Very important results.”
  • Telephone — 49% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 32% responded “Important.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making — 45% responded “Every day.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 31% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 50% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Bending or Twisting the Body — 30% responded “Less than half the time.”
  • Level of Competition — 39% responded “Moderately competitive.”

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Experience Requirements

Job Zone

Title
Job Zone Two: Some Preparation Needed
Education
These occupations usually require a high school diploma.
Related Experience
Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.
Job Training
Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
Job Zone Examples
These occupations often involve using your knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include orderlies, counter and rental clerks, customer service representatives, security guards, upholsterers, tellers, and dental laboratory technicians.
SVP Range
3 months to 1 year of preparation (4.0 to < 6.0)

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Training & Credentials

State training
Local training
Certifications
State licenses
Apprenticeships
Have a career path or location in mind? Visit Apprenticeship.gov external site to find apprenticeship opportunities near you.

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Worker Requirements

Skills

  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

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Knowledge

  • Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Sales and Marketing — Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
  • Food Production — Knowledge of techniques and equipment for planting, growing, and harvesting food products (both plant and animal) for consumption, including storage/handling techniques.

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Education

How much education does a new hire need to perform a job in this occupation? Respondents said:

  • 57%
     
    responded: High school diploma or equivalent requiredmore info
  • 28%
     
    responded: Less than high school diploma required
  • 7%
     
    responded: Bachelor’s degree required

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Worker Characteristics

Abilities

  • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Time Sharing — The ability to shift back and forth between two or more activities or sources of information (such as speech, sounds, touch, or other sources).
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  • Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
  • Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Stamina — The ability to exert yourself physically over long periods of time without getting winded or out of breath.
  • Trunk Strength — The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without "giving out" or fatiguing.

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Interests

Interest code: SEC
Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
  • Social — Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
  • Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
  • Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
  • Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

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Work Values

  • Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
  • Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
  • Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.

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Work Styles

  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
  • Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.

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Workforce Characteristics

Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages (2021)
$12.50 hourly, $26,000 annual
State wages
Local wages
Employment (2021)
1,904,400 employees
Projected growth (2021-2031)
Faster than average (8% to 10%)
Projected job openings (2021-2031)
425,800
State trends
Top industries (2021)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 wage data external site and 2021-2031 employment projections external site. “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2021-2031). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

State job openings
Local job openings

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More Information

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Sources of Additional Information

Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.

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