Banquet Server Jobs: Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for banquet servers. Get the facts about job duties, training requirements and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Restaurant & Catering Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Banquet Server?

Banquet servers are food servers who specialize in special occasion food service, often to large groups and parties. They don't necessarily need formal training, though prior experience in the foodservice industry can be beneficial. They perform similar duties to any other food server, such as answering customer's questions, taking food and drink orders and serving food. However, they will also clear dishes as people finish eating, clean up any eating areas and refill drinks. They may work in teams to ensure that customers are served promptly. The table below outlines the general requirements for a career as a banquet server.

Education Required No formal education required
Training Required On-the-job training is most common
Key Skills Excellent interpersonal communications skills, customer service skills, ability to carry heavy trays or dishes
Job Growth (2014-2024) 13% (for all non restaurant food servers)*
Median Salary (2015) $20,420*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Skills and Training Do I Need To Be A Banquet Server?

Because setting up banquet rooms and serving food usually requires carrying heavy trays or dishes of food and drinks, you'll need a certain degree of physical strength to work as a banquet server. According to job postings on the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA) as of January 2011, many employers seek servers who can lift at least 25 pounds (www.ahla.com).

As in most hospitality-related positions, as a banquet server you'll be interacting frequently with guests, so solid communication and customer service skills are required. Whether you're taking orders, serving food or dishing it out from buffet-style trays, you must remain courteous and pleasant even in the face of repeated requests or complaints.

For aspiring banquet servers, skills and ability to successfully perform job duties are often more important than prior experience or training. Some employers may prefer prior experience as a waiter, waitress or restaurant server, but other positions are entry-level and require no food service background. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the hospitality industry - which includes banquet services - typically provides on-the-job training to new hires (www.bls.gov). Training may entail video or verbal instruction as well as hands-on practice.

Where Might I Work?

Banquet servers typically work in the hospitality industry. The majority of classified ads posted on the above-mentioned AH&LA site in January 2011 were for server positions either with hotels or hospitality service companies. According to the BLS, banquet services are usually offered primarily by larger hotels, often national chains.

You may also find work as a banquet server at a country club or on a cruise line. You'll probably spend the majority of your working time in banquet rooms themselves, but you'll also make frequent visits to kitchens and to storage spaces.

Are There Opportunities for Advancement?

Career advancement is often somewhat limited in the food services industry. With a track record of experience and success as a banquet server, however, you may be promoted to a position such as banquet captain or placed in a management training program. If you're interested in becoming a chef, you could be transferred to the kitchen.

The BLS reports that advancement in the hospitality industry often involves transferring from one department to another. For example, a banquet server may be promoted to a higher position in guest services or reservations.

How Much Could I Earn?

The BLS reported that food servers working in non-restaurant positions earned a yearly median salary of $20,420 as of May 2015. The salary information website Payscale.com reported a 10th-90th percentile annual salary range of $17,184 to $44,148 for banquet servers as of October 2016. Salary is usually supplemented with earnings from tips.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Bartenders, cashiers and retail sales workers are a few related alternative careers that do not require any formal education. Bartenders specialize in serving alcoholic and other mixed drinks to customers who are of age. Cashiers are responsible for the money transactions between customers and the business for a product or service. Retail sales workers try to sell a variety of products to consumers. They may sell clothing, cars, toys, appliances and more.

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