Transferable skills you can get working in food services

Last updated: May 20, 2024
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Michael Frash
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Transferable skills you can get working in food services
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A large number of people get work experience in food services. There are around 11.26 million restaurant and food industry workers in the U.S.

Working in food services can be a first job or a way to make extra cash while you get through college. And, some people choose to build a long-term career, working their way up the ladder to senior restaurant management positions.

If you get a job in food services, the skills you gain will look good on your resume. Even if you decide to change industries, there is a range of transferable skills that will impress any hiring manager.

What are the top transferable skills you can acquire in food services? And, what food industry jobs look good on your resume? Read on to find out.

What is the food services industry?

There is a range of different roles available in food services. For example, you can work in a quick-service restaurant (QSR), such as McDonald’s, Starbucks, or Subway.

Fast food restaurants have different job types available. Depending on your skills, you can apply for a job as a cashier, crew member, cook, manager, or delivery driver.

There are other places you can get food industry experience. You can work in a restaurant, cafe, hotel, or cruise ship. There are front and back of house, food preparation, catering, and delivery roles you can apply for.

Entry-level positions usually come with training. You’ll learn about safe food handling and how to accept payments. Some workers learn how to prepare meals, make coffee, and serve alcoholic beverages.

You’ll also learn a lot about food safety, such as the shelf life of different products:

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To be successful in the food services industry, you’ll likely need to be available for lunch and dinner service. Your role can involve evening work and long hours spent on your feet.

What are transferable skills?

Transferable skills are gained through work and study. These skills are valuable for any job, regardless of the industry.

For example, communication, teamwork, time management, and technology experience are all skills that potential employers across many industries look for.

On average, people in the U.S. have 12.4 jobs in their lifetime. With so many career changes, applying for a new role can feel like starting over. But, you can use your transferable skills to boost your resume and help you transition to a new job.

If you work as a server in a restaurant, you’ll develop a range of skills, including customer service, multitasking, and teamwork. These skills are all important and will support your application for a job in industries like retail or administration.

What are the top transferable skills you can gain working in food services?

When you work in food services, you’ll get a range of different transferable skills. These skills will be useful throughout your working life.

Let’s take a look at some of the top skills from this industry:

1. Teamwork

Restaurants and fast food venues rely heavily on teamwork. Team members have different roles, and they need to work together during busy periods.

Teamwork is about supporting your colleagues and making sure tasks are completed efficiently.

For example, if you work in a restaurant, there’ll be a dinner time rush. The servers, chefs, bartenders, bus people, and managers all need to support each other. If someone doesn’t play their part, customers will be left hungry.

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Staff will usually need to work with a roster and may have to fill in if someone is sick.

Teamwork is important in any job. It’s one of the top skills that hiring managers look for.

2. Communication

Good communication is essential in any busy work environment. If you’re working in food services, you’ll have to deal with customers, co-workers, and managers.

Communication isn’t just about talking. You’ll need good listening skills, and you should be conscious of your body language.

If you work in food services, you’ll need strong customer service skills. You may need to take orders, process payments, and handle complaints.

It’s a customer-focused industry, and the goal is to give patrons a positive experience.

Good communication skills can help you in any future role. For example, you need these skills for sales, retail, health, education, and construction jobs.

3. Technology

If you can learn to use technology, you’ll have more job opportunities in the future. For entry-level food service jobs, you could learn how to use the point of sale system and telephone.

Cash handling skills and math skills are also transferable between industries.

If you’re in a leadership position, you could use computer programs to design menus, create staff rosters, and order stock. Some senior-level positions can involve bookkeeping, marketing, and social media management.

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Hiring managers often look for computer skills on your resume. And, if you know how to accept credit card and cash payments and print receipts, this can be on the desirable skills list. Retail, sales, banking, hairdressing, and dental are all industries that need cash handling skills.

4. Time management

Another transferable skill is time management. Being organized and reliable are important qualities that every worker should have.

Food services can be fast-paced, and orders need to be taken quickly and accurately. If you’re working in the kitchen, you’ll need to prepare food on time and to a high standard. Often, there will be different orders that need to be served at the same time.

You should arrive at work on time and stick to your scheduled breaks.

Time management skills are appealing to employers. They want to know that you won’t be late and that you’ll complete your daily duties as efficiently as possible.

Whether it’s construction, sales, retail, health, education, finance, real estate, or manufacturing, good time management is essential.

5. Multitasking

To be successful in food services, you’ll need to learn how to multitask. For example, if you’re working in a QSR, you may have to take orders, process payments, and pack food.

Some drive-through attendants take orders from one customer while accepting payments from another.

Those working in the kitchen will need to cook and serve different meals and make modifications based on dietary requirements.

Servers often need to serve meals, manage customer requests, pour drinks, and clear tables.

If you can multitask without making mistakes, you can use this skill throughout your life. Workers who can multitask are usually more productive, and it’s a transferable skill.

For example, you need multitasking skills if you want to work as a nurse, receptionist, dental assistant, or customer service representative.

6. Attention to detail

Getting your work done quickly is important, but it also needs to be of a high standard. Attention to detail shows that you put care into everything you do.

Attention to detail is a skill you’ll learn by working in the food services industry. If you’re in the kitchen, food will need to be prepared and cooked with safety in mind. And the way you present the meals to the customers matters.

If you’re a server or cashier, you have to listen to your customers and process their orders. Someone could have a food allergy, and serving them the wrong food could be harmful. With great attention to detail, you’ll be less likely to make any errors.

Most jobs require attention to detail. If you’re looking to change careers, you can include this skill on your resume. For example, construction workers need to take correct measurements, and bookkeepers need to enter the right financial information.

What food industry jobs look good on your resume?

Most food industry jobs will look good on your resume. Here are some of the most popular roles with transferable skills:


A server is also known as a waiter or waitress. They take orders, serve food, and make sure customers have a positive dining experience.

Servers work in restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, and cruise ships. Jobs are usually entry-level, with on-the-job training provided.

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The transferable skills you’ll gain as a server include time management, interpersonal skills, customer service skills, and physical stamina. You’ll need to be a team player with the ability to multitask.

The role involves long hours on your feet, night shifts, and weekend work. The average salary for a server is $23,740 per year.


Bartenders work in bars, restaurants, and hotels. They take orders, serve drinks, and accept payments.

Bartenders serve alcohol, so you’ll need to be over 18. Some positions come with training, or you can do a short bartending course to boost your chances of getting a job.

The skills you’ll need to be a successful bartender include excellent communication skills, listening skills, and attention to detail. You’ll need to be physically fit and able to stand on your feet in a busy work environment. All of these skills are transferable to other industries.

Bartenders usually have to work nights and weekends. The average salary is $24,960 per year, but you can make more with tips.


A bus person or busser has a range of general duties. They clear and set tables and give customers napkins. If the restaurant is busy, the busser may need to serve patrons their meals.

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It’s an entry-level position and a good way to start in food services. Bussers are commonly hired to work in restaurants, cafes, and bars and may need to work nights and weekends.

You’ll gain valuable skills working in this role. These skills are transferable to other industries or can help you secure other jobs in food services.

For example, you’ll need to be physically fit and have good time management skills. Because you’ll be setting tables, you should have great attention to detail.

The average salary for a busser is $19,998 per year.

Food preparation worker

Food preparation workers or kitchen hands work in restaurants, cafes, and hospitals. Their role is to help chefs with meal preparation.

Key duties include keeping kitchen work areas clean, washing dishes, cutting produce, mixing ingredients, and placing food in warmers. There are usually no minimum requirements to get the job, and you can expect ongoing training.

The tasks can be repetitive, and food preparation workers need good manual dexterity. Other transferable skills include teamwork, good listening skills, and great attention to detail.

Kitchens are busy work environments, and these team members spend long hours on their feet.

The average salary for a food preparation worker is $26,070 per year.


Chefs and cooks prepare meals for customers. They work in restaurants, hotels, cruise ships, cafes, and other venues that serve food.

They create recipes, set menus, and order ingredients. Chefs use different tools and equipment to cook for their customers. To work as a chef, you’ll need to complete training. You can learn the trade through college or by completing an apprenticeship.

Chefs need a range of transferable skills. For example, they need excellent time management skills, attention to detail, and communication skills. Most chefs work with a team, and they need to be good leaders.

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The role involves night and weekend work and long hours spent on your feet. Kitchens can be busy with high temperatures, so chefs need to be cool and calm under pressure.

The average salary for a chef is $53,380 per year.

Where to find food industry jobs

If you’re looking for a food industry job, there are positions available in your area. You can start your search on our job board. Or, you can browse by position type.

Here are a few job types to consider:

The top transferable food services skills

When you work in food services, you’ll gain a range of transferable skills. These skills are desirable for other roles, including those in different industries.

Some of the top skills you’ll learn in food services include teamwork, communication, technology, time management, multitasking, and attention to detail. You can use this experience to get jobs in other fields. Or, you can apply for leadership positions in restaurants or hotels.

Servers, bartenders, bussers, food preparation workers, and chefs are just a few jobs you may be interested in. Many of these jobs are entry-level, making them ideal for those looking for work experience.

Ready to start your job search? Check out our job board. Want interview tips and career advice? Visit our Getting Hired Resource Center.

1 Comment


Courtney Hazzard
Bullet point

Good article, however I'd like to add I'm disappointed that it didn't mention the bottom rung of casual fast, fine dining restaurants! That's the DISHWASHER! I was one for nearly 7 years at 2 different places. We sure as anything learn communication skills, learn safety and keep our kitchens organized. Time management is a BIG Time skill because when there is a big rush, the dishes can keep piling on. It's back breaking dirty work and some of us don't even get breaks, which is why I left my last dishwashing job in favor of a temporary office job. You included bussers, good for them. For the love of all that is good in the world dishwashers need to be acknowledged for all the hard work we've done! Rant over.