Get started in the restaurant business!

Last updated: July 23, 2024
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Ashley Wilson
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Content Manager at Jobcase
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Get started in the restaurant business!
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Do you have great people skills and want to work in a field that makes the most of them?

Working as a server could be for you. Restaurants are fast-paced work environments, perfectly suited for those who enjoy working with and engaging with people.

Let’s cover server job responsibilities, what qualities you need to be a great server, and where to find your next job opportunity in this field.

What is a restaurant server?

Restaurant servers are also called waiters and waitresses. Servers play an important role in the food service industry. They’re responsible for restaurant guest satisfaction during their dining experience.

In a way, servers are the face of the restaurant. Most communication with customers is done via servers.

While some customers may ask to speak to the chef or the manager, most of them will only speak to the servers (and to the host who brings them to their table).

If customers have an issue with their food, need something else to drink, or require anything else to make their experience the best it can be, it’s the server’s job to listen and make the appropriate accommodations.

What’s the difference between a server, a busser, and a runner?

Server duties include being in charge of waiting on tables and making sure restaurant guests have everything they need. But they typically won’t be the ones bringing the food to the tables. They also won’t be the ones clearing tables when the guests leave.

Bussers clear tables and lay out the crockery, silverware, and condiments before the next guests arrive.

Runners are the ones who bring customer orders from the kitchen to the tables. They also make sure that the food is properly lined up at the kitchen counter.

Servers work closely with runners to make sure the correct food is served to each customer.

In some establishments, servers will also perform busser and runner duties. But most of the time, they’ll each have their separate duties, although they’ll work closely together to provide the best possible experience for dining customers.

Bussers and runners also don’t directly receive tips. However, in several establishments, servers will tip out a percentage of their tips to their colleagues since their teamwork allows the restaurant to run smoothly.

So bussers and runners will receive some tips, but the bulk of their salary comes from their hourly wages.

Many businesses also use tip pooling — the practice of pooling the tips everyone receives and distributing them:

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Restaurant server job responsibilities

So what do servers do exactly?

Since a server’s job is to make the customer experience positive and memorable, they’re responsible for taking their orders and making suggestions when needed.

Server responsibilities also include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Greeting customers and providing them with menus

  • Taking food and drink orders

  • Providing food orders to the kitchen so they can start food preparation

  • Giving drink orders to the bar staff so they can prepare drinks

  • Keeping customers’ tables tidy at all times

  • Answering questions about menu items and taking requests from customers

  • Checking in on customers periodically to ensure their experience is going smoothly

  • Cooperating with runners, bussers, and kitchen staff

  • Delivering the check and collecting payment from customers via cash, debit, or credit cards

  • Providing an all-around excellent customer service

  • Using a point-of-sale system (POS system) to manage tables and orders

What qualities make a great server?

A great server will need effective communication skills. They’ll also need a positive attitude and good interpersonal skills since they're representing the restaurant, cafe, or bar they work for. Good all-around customer service skills are also an important asset.

Good servers also need to be able to work under pressure and have great organizational skills. During rush periods, restaurants can become fast-paced environments for the staff. Servers need to be able to keep their composure and positive mood while waiting on guests.

Finally, servers need a good memory. It’s important that they remember which person ordered what meal and drinks. They also need to juggle requests from several tables at once, which can make orders difficult to remember.

Server job qualification requirements

There are no specific qualifications you need to become a server.

In most establishments, you can work even if you’re under 18 years of age. This means you can work as a server even if you don’t have your high school diploma or GED, which makes this job an amazing entry-level opportunity for young job-seekers who are still in high school or haven’t completed high school.

You can work as a server if you’re as young as 14, depending on which state you live in, but federal restrictions apply for the hours you work.

States like Vermont, Alaska, Massachusetts, and more require minors to be 16 before they can get a job. Other states, like Nevada and Arkansas, don’t allow minors to work at all.

In some states, like California, minors need to obtain a work permit when an employer gives them a job.

Server job salary and job outlook

When you work as a server, the average wage is $11.42 per hour. This works out to $23,740 per year.

The wage can vary depending on which industries you work in. For instance, servers who work in traveler accommodations have a median wage of $12.74 per hour.

Those in arts, entertainment, and recreation have a median wage of $12 per hour, compared to $11.08 for restaurants and other eating places.

This may sound low, but remember that servers earn their salary from a combination of wages and tips.

The wage you’ll get paid depends on which state you live in. And the tips you receive depend on what type of restaurant you work in and can be unique to that restaurant.

For example, servers who work in upscale establishments in major metropolitan areas will usually make more tips than lower-end establishments. People who work on the weekend and in the evening (when restaurants tend to be busier) will likely make more than servers who work midday and mid-week.

Server jobs hiring right now

One of the great things about starting out as a server is that most establishments don’t require experience when they hire you. You can find entry-level server positions by searching on Jobcase.

You can even filter your search by distance. So, if you prefer to find a job that’s close to you, you can do so.

Find an entry-level job as a server

Think you would make a great server that restaurant customers would love?

Find your next server opportunity near YOU!



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