Career Development

Busser Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

Bussers typically work in dining rooms of restaurants, helping waiters and waitresses by clearing tables, carrying away dirty dishes, refilling condiments, and setting tables for new customers. A busser's work is visible and can have a direct impact on customers.

Bussers typically work in dining rooms of restaurants, helping waiters and waitresses by clearing tables, carrying away dirty dishes, refilling condiments, and setting tables for new customers. A busser’s work is visible and can have a direct impact on customers.

Bussers who assist waitstaff are sometimes called front-of-house bussers. Back-of-house bussers work in the kitchen, prepping food, and cleaning. Beverage bussers keep the bar area clean and stocked with beverages for customers. In some restaurants, bussers may fulfill a combination of these roles.

Bussing is usually an entry-level job for people starting out in the hospitality industry. It’s also a common part-time job suited to students.

Busser Job Duties

Bussers are responsible for the following duties:

  • Preparing tables for incoming customers and assisting waitstaff in setting up and arranging tables
  • Setting up and breaking down chairs, tables, and other equipment after use
  • Seeing if additional items such as bread or condiments are needed at each table
  • Clearing dirty dishes from guests’ tables after they have finished eating
  • Cleaning utensils, plates, glasses, flatware, or other items as needed to keep them clean for reuse
  • Serving food to customers as directed by the server or manager
  • Contacting guests directly to address concerns about their dining experience
  • Performing other general duties such as sweeping and mopping floors, polishing silverware, and stocking the bar area with glassware

Busser Salary & Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that, as of May 2020, the median hourly wage for bussers was $11.60, or $24,000 annually.

The need for bussers is expected to grow at a rate of 17% over the next decade. This is much faster than the average for all occupations. The greatest demand is expected to be with establishments that are considered to be quick-service restaurants. 

Busser Job Requirements

The requirements for bussers are as follows:

Education: Although there are no formal education requirements for this position, most employers prefer candidates with at least a high school diploma or GED. Many employers prefer applicants who are familiar with restaurant etiquette and customer service. 

Experience: Some experience in the foodservice industry is preferred, but not required. Job candidates must have the right attitude and desire to work in a restaurant. It’s important to be flexible, reliable, and able to work well with others. Restaurant managers look for candidates who are enthusiastic about learning new skills and improving their job performance.

Training: The position is entry-level, and training can be on-the-job. However, most employers prefer candidates who have had training in the restaurant industry. Some restaurants offer paid training programs for new employees.

Busser Skills

To succeed in this job, you will need to possess the following skills:

Customer service skills: This job requires great customer service skills. You must be able to deal with different types of people and personalities.

Time management skills: bussers must work quickly and efficiently to keep tables cleared, drinks refilled, and meals served on time.

Attention to detail: Your attention to detail is critical because you may be responsible for refilling ketchup bottles, restocking condiments, or placing salt and pepper shakers at each table.

Interpersonal skills: This job requires good interpersonal skills because you are dealing with customers on a regular basis. If you do not get along well with others, then this is not the right job for you.

Team player: You must be able to work well as part of a team in this job because you are working with other employees who are doing the same thing as you are—serving customers at tables. The ability to work well as part of a team is crucial for success in this job.

Busser Work Environment

Bussers are entry-level workers in restaurants, bars, and other food service establishments. They are responsible for cleaning tables, clearing away dirty dishes, assisting waiters, and other general tasks. Bussers must be able to work in a team and take direction from others.

The job is very hands-on and can be physically demanding as bussers are on their feet for most of the day, lifting heavy trays of dishes, glassware, and food. Restaurants are fast-paced environments to work in. Bussers need to maintain a high level of energy and alertness throughout the workday.

Busser Career Advancement

Becoming a waiter or waitress is one of the most common careers for bussers to advance to. This job requires excellent customer service and attention to detail, and many consider it a stepping stone before taking on leadership roles as a head server or manager.

Sometimes bussers advance to become a host, food runner, prep cook, barback, or bartender, depending on the skills they develop and contribute to the restaurant.

Busser Trends

Here are three trends influencing how bussers work. Bussers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Positive Attention on Food Waste:

Food waste is an issue that has long been of concern to environmentalists, but it has only recently become a more mainstream topic of discussion.

While there are still many steps to be taken in the fight against food waste, efforts like the UN’s Think Eat Save initiative and France’s FUSIONS program are bringing increased attention to this problem. As awareness about this issue grows, bussers will need to pay closer attention to serving patrons appropriately in order to prevent food waste at restaurants. 

Increased Awareness of Food Allergies:

Increased awareness of food allergies has led to changes in how bussers handle food in order to ensure safety.

As a result, bussers have become more attentive about the amount of allergy-related products they handle, which can often lead to improved customer service.

Rise of The Professional Busser:

The importance of having a skilled busser is growing as restaurants look to professionalize their operations.

This trend is driven by the rise of the “gourmet busser”, which is becoming increasingly common as more restaurants take steps to appeal to foodies who are eager to share pictures of their dishes on social media.

How to Become a Busser

1. Planning Your Career Path

Though bussing tables may seem like a simple task, there are a few skills required to do the job well. Bussers should be organized and attentive to detail; they should also have a keen sense of spatial awareness so that they don’t bump into other servers or patrons. Those who excel in this position can move up quickly through the ranks by learning new skills such as food preparation and bartending.

2. Writing a Resume

Your resume should highlight your work experience, education, and skills that you have obtained from past jobs or internships. In addition, you should always tailor your resume to the position you are applying for. 

If you do not have much experience in the restaurant industry, emphasize other relevant skills that would make you a good fit for the position. For example, if the restaurant you are applying for emphasizes customer service and teamwork, emphasize these qualities on your resume by describing a time when you were responsible for making customers happy or when you were a leader on a team project. 

3. Applying for Jobs

When searching for a job as a busser, there are many options. The best way to find jobs is to search the internet and speak with local restaurants. You can also ask your friends and family members if they know of any openings. Get involved in local communities and events, and network with people who can help you get your foot in the door. 

4. Ace the Interview

To ace an interview as a busser candidate, be sure to understand the general responsibilities of the job. For example, do you have to run food? Do you have to take orders? What are your duties on the floor?

It is also important to demonstrate that you are responsible and hardworking during an interview. Be sure to dress professionally, show up on time, and know how to use basic restaurant terminology. During the interview, be ready to answer questions about your availability, your experience with restaurant work, and what you would do in certain situations. You will also want to demonstrate your ability to work well with others, so come prepared with questions about the company culture.

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