Be a Fast Food Worker: Skills & Requirements

Learn what it takes to be a fast food worker. Understand the education requirements, job duties, average wages and necessary skills to see if working in the fast food industry is the right job for you. Schools offering Art of Cooking degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Fast food workers cook food, serve customers and perform general cleaning duties in restaurants that offer fast food or take out options. No formal degree or previous work experience is required; most establishments train workers on the job. The chart below gives a brief overview of fast food work.

Training Required On-the-job training
Key Skills Basic math ability, customer service skills, knowledge of food safety procedures
Job Growth (2016-2026) 17%*
Median Salary (2017) $20,180 per year*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Fast Food Workers Do?

Fast food cashiers are asked to greet customers, take food and drink orders, work the register, handle change and relay the order information to the prep staff. Fast food kitchen staff typically prepare food according to a company's specifications, cooking it to order while paying close attention to food safety regulations. Other duties might include wiping tables after customers leave, cleaning the bathrooms, restocking supplies or scrubbing the kitchen for the next day. Many establishments open their doors early and stay open late at night - some are even open 24 hours - so employees may be asked to work irregular hours.

What Kind of Training Is Required?

No formal training or certification is required to become a fast food worker. Many fast food restaurants have a training program in place that teaches prospective employees how to perform the job. Training might consist of watching training videos, shadowing another worker or just learning on the fly. Training is generally quite quick.

What Types of Skills Are Useful for Fast Food Workers?

Since they have to give change, fast food workers will benefit from a basic understanding of math. And because they work in the service industry, they'll also need to be able to maintain their cool under pressure, communicate effectively with customers and practice proper hygiene.

How Much Do Fast Food Workers Make?

The most recent salary data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics was for May 2017. It showed that the median hourly wage for fast food workers was $9.70. That's a median salary of $20,180 per year. The top 10% took home at least $12.85 per hour, while the bottom 10% made $8.16 or less. The rail and water transportation industries were among the most lucrative for fast food workers - they earned $23.43 and $14.86 per hour, respectively. A large number of individuals in the fast food industry worked part time in 2017.

What's the Job Outlook for Fast Food Workers?

There's a high turnover rate in the fast food industry. Workers move on to higher education or other employment on a regular basis, so there are almost always vacancies. Additionally, the requirements for employment are low, which creates a favorable climate for workers looking for employment. The BLS's projections bear that out - it foresees a higher than average growth for the fast food industry when compared to all other occupations. It predicts a rise of 17% in employment for fast food workers between 2016 and 2026.

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