How Do I Become a Waiter?

Research what it takes to become a waiter. Learn about training requirements, essential skills, job growth and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Restaurant & Catering Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Waiter?

Waiters serve food and beverages in settings ranging from fine-dining establishments to more casual restaurants. They are responsible for greeting customers and providing a friendly dining environment. They answer any questions about the menu, take food and drink orders and serve food to guests. They also remove dirty dishes, clean tables and handle customers' checks. They may help coordinate the kitchen and dining room staff and address any customer complaints. Waiters' additional duties vary depending on their place of work, but most are required to dress in a particular uniform or outfit to be easily identified by customers.

For a brief overview of this career field, check out the following table:

Training Required Short-term training completed on the job
Key Skills Customer service, interpersonal skills, multi-tasking abilities
Job Growth (2018-2028) 6% growth*
Median Salary (2018) $21,780*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do I Need to Become a Waiter?

There are no formal requirements for a waiter's job. Employers generally offer you training specific to the atmosphere and policies of the restaurant. Often, you'll observe an experienced server to learn the essentials of the job and have your trainer shadow you to make sure you've got a grasp of the finer points.

You'll be expected to provide good customer service with the hope that your behavior will encourage repeat business. Since waiters commonly rely on tips to supplement an hourly wage, your attitude, conduct and knowledge of the restaurant and its menu could increase your income. You'll need to be able to multitask and coordinate food orders and customer relations during busy times. You'll also need to practice satisfactory personal hygiene and be able to interact effectively with other kitchen and wait staff.

Are Relevant Educational Programs Available?

There are several ways to get basic education that can prepare you to become a waiter. Some community colleges offer certificate programs for wait staff personnel, professional food and beverage servers or a variety of restaurant support positions. Courses and internships within these programs offer experiences in different types of restaurants and train you in a number of serving styles, such as table, buffet or tray service. Others focus on preparing you for fine dining or catering. Also, some colleges allow local restaurant owners and managers to provide free seminars at the campus for basic and advanced food service training.

Are There Any Fringe Benefits?

Benefits offered vary by employer. Vacation and sick leave may not be offered to waiters, and you probably won't get extra pay for working on holidays. However, you could receive health insurance, an employee dental plan, life insurance or tuition reimbursement, though you might have to complete a probationary period first. Uniforms and laundry services might be provided, and you often receive free or discounted meals at the restaurant.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Retail sales workers, bartenders and cashiers are all similar positions that do not require any formal education. Retail sales workers sell all types of products to consumers. They may specialize in selling cars, appliances, clothing and more. Bartenders mix and prepare alcoholic drinks for customers who are of age. Cashiers are responsible for handling the monetary transactions for customers at a place of business. They may accept payment for products or services.

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