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Career profile Waiter

Also known as Banquet Server, Buffet Server, Cocktail Server, Food Runner, Food Server, Restaurant Server, Server, Waiter, Waitress, Waitstaff

Waiter

Also known as Banquet Server, Buffet Server, Cocktail Server

Interests Profile
  • Social
  • Enterprising
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$17,520 - $42,550 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Active Listening
  • Speaking
  • Service Orientation
Knowledge Areas
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Food Production
Core tasks
  • Check with customers to ensure that they are enjoying their meals and take action to correct any problems.
  • Take orders from patrons for food or beverages.
  • Check patrons' identification to ensure that they meet minimum age requirements for consumption of alcoholic beverages.
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What does a Waiter do?

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

What kind of tasks does a Waiter perform regularly?

Waiters are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Check with customers to ensure that they are enjoying their meals and take action to correct any problems.
  • Take orders from patrons for food or beverages.
  • 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.
  • Present menus to patrons and answer questions about menu items, making recommendations upon request.
  • Prepare checks that itemize and total meal costs and sales taxes.
  • 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.
  • Assist host or hostess by answering phones to take reservations or to-go orders, and by greeting, seating, and thanking guests.
  • Explain how various menu items are prepared, describing ingredients and cooking methods.
  • Perform cleaning duties, such as sweeping and mopping floors, vacuuming carpet, tidying up server station, taking out trash, or checking and cleaning bathroom.
  • Escort customers to their tables.
  • 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.
  • Bring wine selections to tables with appropriate glasses, and pour the wines for customers.
  • Stock service areas with supplies such as coffee, food, tableware, and linens.
  • Describe and recommend wines to customers.
  • Fill salt, pepper, sugar, cream, condiment, and napkin containers.
  • 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 giving directions.

The above responsibilities are specific to Waiters. More generally, Waiters are involved in several broader types of 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.

What is a Waiter salary?

The median salary for a Waiter is $23,740, and the average salary is $27,470. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Waiter salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Waiters earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Waiters earn less than $17,520 per year, 25% earn less than $19,290, 75% earn less than $30,650, and 90% earn less than $42,550.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Waiters is expected to change by 20.1%, and there should be roughly 470,200 open positions for Waiters every year.

Median annual salary
$23,740
Typical salary range
$17,520 - $42,550
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
20.1%

What personality traits are common among Waiters?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Waiter are usually higher in their Social, Enterprising, and Conventional interests.

Waiters typically have strong Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Also, Waiters typically have strong Enterprising interests. 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.

Lastly, Waiters typically have strong Conventional interests. 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.

Waiters typically have moderate Realistic interests. 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.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Waiter tend to value Relationships, Support, and Independence.

Most importantly, Waiters very strongly value 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.

Second, Waiters moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Lastly, Waiters somewhat value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Waiters must consistently demonstrate qualities such as dependability, self-control, and attention to detail.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Waiters, ranked by importance:

Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Self-Control
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
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.

What education and training do Waiters need?

Working as a Waiter usually requires a high school diploma.

Waiters need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Waiters

  • 13.3% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 33.2% completed high school or secondary school
  • 28.4% completed some college coursework
  • 9.1% earned a Associate's degree
  • 13.7% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 1.9% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.4% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Waiters

Waiters may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as customer and personal service, sales and marketing, or food production knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Waiters might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

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.
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.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Important Abilities needed by Waiters

Waiters must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Waiters need abilities such as oral comprehension, oral expression, and speech recognition in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Waiters, ranked by their relative importance.

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 Recognition
The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
Speech Clarity
The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

Critical Skills needed by Waiters

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Waiters frequently use skills like active listening, speaking, and service orientation to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Waiters, ranked by their relative importance.

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.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Service Orientation
Actively looking for ways to help people.
Social Perceptiveness
Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Coordination
Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.