What are the responsibilities of a waitress or waiter?

Last updated: May 28, 2024
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Michael Frash
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What are the responsibilities of a waitress or waiter?
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Waitresses and waiters are key employees of bars, pubs, and restaurants. They take orders and serve food and beverages to customers.

It can be a rewarding job for someone who loves to socialize and prefers to be active. Although like any position, it comes with its own set of challenges.

It’s a high-pressure job that requires excellent soft skills and high energy. But it could be the right career for someone looking for a flexible schedule and an exciting work environment.

Let’s take a look at what a waiter’s or waitress's responsibilities are, how much money they make, and how to land a job.

What exactly is a waitress or waiter?

Wait staff members work at restaurants, bars, or even private homes, serving customers by taking food orders. They deliver food and alcoholic beverages to customers’ tables and make sure that their overall dining experience is positive.

Aside from that, waiters and waitresses follow the orders of managers. They could find themselves restocking working stations, helping with take-out orders, polishing silverware, and working the cash register.

It can be a tedious and sometimes challenging job, but it’s an essential one.

Higher-end restaurants can be more difficult to work at but come with the perk of greater tips. High-end food servers not only take customer orders, but they must memorize menu items, the ingredients that go in them, and the order in which they’re prepared.

Waitress or waiter responsibilities

The job description of a waitress or waiter will vary depending on the establishment, but there are some general tasks that most perform.

Waiters and waitresses typically do the following:

  • Clear and clean tables before and after customers sit down

  • Greet customers, present menus, and explain any daily specials

  • Answer questions and provide menu recommendations

  • Take food and drink orders

  • Deliver food and beverage orders from the kitchen to the table

  • Cash-out customers

  • Restock service areas and condiments

As we mentioned, high-end restaurants tend to give wait staff more responsibilities. This is because customers expect waiters and waitresses to be able to answer any questions about the menu.

One aspect of waiting that isn’t often discussed is managing customers. The wait staff is trained in dealing with unruly customers, and higher-end restaurants expect wait staff to keep blacklists of customers they don’t want back.

It can be an emotionally taxing job for anyone, especially for those not accustomed to working with customers all day long.

Waitress or waiter skills and experience requirements

Wait staff members have a very specific skill set that isn’t taught in schools, so they need only a high school diploma or GED.

However, wait staff should excel at numerous soft skills, including communication skills. They deal with customers and other kitchen staff members all day, so the ability to work in a team is essential.

Excellent customer service skills differentiate good from great wait staff.

Only the best waiters and waitresses can work at high-end restaurants, and interpersonal skills are a huge part of the equation.

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Aside from that, there are some certifications wait staff could get to stand out.

Many jobs require wait staff to have a food handling certificate. There are also certification programs allowing wait staff to serve alcohol, although these laws vary depending on the state you’re in.

Ultimately, it’s easy to get your foot in the door of a restaurant without much experience. However, to excel and make it in higher-end establishments, you have to put the work in.

Waitress or waiter salary and employment rates

Waitress and waiter jobs aren’t going anywhere. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the job outlook will grow as fast as the national average, between 2019-2029 at 4%.

When we look at salaries, we see that waiters and waitresses make $23,740 per year or $11.42 per hour. This takes into account the various minimum wages across different states.

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It’s important to note that there’s a huge variety in take-home pay for waiters and waitresses, all depending on the tips they receive.

This comes down to the areas and restaurants they work in as well as individual performance.

Wait staff working in high-income areas likely receive more tips than those working in other areas.

Waitress or waiter resume tips

Let’s take a look at some resume tips to help you land the job.

1. Customize your resume

When writing your resume, make sure to customize it to the job you’re applying for.

If it’s a waiter or waitress position at a seafood restaurant, include any experience you have as a waiter or waitress in the past. If you’ve handled seafood in a restaurant, that’s another bonus.

Using the job description to customize your resume is one of the best pieces of advice we can give.

2. Use keywords

Did you know that 75% of resumes are never seen by a real person?

That’s an astonishing number, and it’s due to automated systems that scan for keywords.

To ensure you get your resume in front of a real person, include keywords from the job description. Including keywords will get you past automated screening systems.

3. Keep it relevant

Hiring managers don’t want to read about your experience as a warehouse worker when you’re applying for a waiter or waitress position.

Make sure to include information that’s pertinent to the job you’re applying for. Any customer service or food-handling experience you have should be front and center.

4. Simple is better

It’s hard to resist those flashy resume templates. But trust us when we say that they can do more harm than good.

Hiring managers want an easy-to-follow resume laid out in a sensible format. After all, they’ll only skim it. If they don’t see what they need to see in the first couple of seconds, count yourself out.

5. Proofread everything

Make sure to proofread your resume before you submit it. A resume with typos and poor spelling will get you zero callbacks.

Waitress or waiter jobs hiring right now

Here are some waitress and waiter jobs hiring right now.

Waitress or waiter

There are hundreds of waiter and waitress jobs at local restaurants.

[Find waitress jobs on Jobcase.


Find waiter jobs on Jobcase.

Cocktail waitress

A cocktail waitress brings drinks to patrons in the dining area of bars, cocktail lounges, casinos, and comedy clubs.

Find cocktail waitress jobs on Jobcase.

Land a waiter or waitress job today

Getting your first waitress or waiter job isn’t all that challenging. There are always restaurants hiring qualified wait staff.

Just make sure to look up your state laws and acquire a food handling certificate if necessary. After that, it’s all about the resume.

You can find more tips for job seekers searching for a waiter or waitress job by visiting our Getting Hired Resource Center.



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