Career Development

What Does a Waiter Do?

Find out what a waiter does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a waiter.

Waiters are the front line of customer service. They interact with customers on a daily basis, providing them with food and beverage service as well as information about the menu, specials, and other offerings at their restaurant.

Waiters must be able to multitask effectively while paying close attention to detail. They need to be friendly and engaging but also professional—they’re often the face of the restaurant they work for, so they have to present themselves in a positive light at all times.

Waiter Job Duties

A waiter typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Providing customers with menu information and taking orders, including alcoholic beverages or specialty items
  • Preparing food and drink orders by chopping fruits and vegetables, grilling meats, baking pastries, preparing salads, or mixing drinks
  • Updating food and beverage inventories, ordering new supplies, and arranging for delivery of orders
  • Presenting food items to guests, answering questions about menu items, and providing descriptions of ingredients or preparation methods
  • Setting tables with silverware, china, linens, and other items as directed by management
  • Ensuring that the dining room is clean and orderly at all times, and that dishes are cleaned promptly after each meal
  • Communicating food allergies or other dietary restrictions to chefs or kitchen staff, as needed
  • Serving food and drinks to customers directly from the kitchen or bar area
  • Providing attentive service to patrons by answering questions about menu items, making recommendations about wine pairings, or suggesting additional courses based on a diner’s preferences

Waiter Salary & Outlook

Waiters’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of restaurant they work in. Waiters who work in upscale restaurants typically earn more than those who work in casual dining establishments.

  • Median Annual Salary: $36,000 ($17.31/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $60,500 ($29.09/hour)

The employment of waiters is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

The need to hire waiters will depend largely on the popularity of full-service restaurants. As more people eat out, demand for waiters will increase. However, technological advances in food preparation may limit the need for waiters in some establishments.

Waiter Job Requirements

There are a few requirements for becoming a waiter, which may include:

Education: Most waiters have at least a high school diploma or GED certificate. Some employers prefer candidates who have completed a hospitality program or certificate. These programs teach candidates how to work in a restaurant environment, including how to interact with customers, how to handle common customer complaints and how to handle difficult situations.

Training & Experience: Many new waiters will receive on-the-job training from their new employer. This training will typically include learning the restaurant’s menu, how to properly serve food and drinks and how to clean and maintain the dining room. Waiters who have previous experience serving food and drinks may only need to learn the specific menu items and specials.

Certifications & Licenses: Waiters are required to be certified in safe food handling techniques. If they are serving alcohol, waiters are required to be certified in the safe sale of alcoholic beverages.

Waiter Skills

Waiter jobs require the following skills:

Active listening: Active listening is the ability to hear and understand what a customer is saying. Waiters should be able to listen to their customers’ requests and answer any questions they may have. This can help you to provide better service and make customers feel valued.

Food and beverage knowledge: Waiters should have a basic understanding of the food and beverage options they’re serving. This can help them answer questions from customers and make informed recommendations. For example, if a customer asks a waiter about the ingredients in a dish, the waiter should be able to provide an answer. This can help the customer make an informed decision about their order.

Time management: As a waiter, you need to manage your time well to ensure you provide excellent service to all of your customers. This includes knowing how long each of your tasks takes so you can plan accordingly. For example, if you know it takes you about five minutes to take an order, you can plan to take a new order every five minutes. This ensures you don’t get behind and allows you to provide consistent service.

Problem-solving: Waiters solve problems every day, from handling customer complaints to resolving issues with the kitchen staff. Being able to think quickly and find solutions to problems can help you provide excellent service to your customers. For example, if a customer is unhappy with their meal, you can offer to replace it or offer a refund.

Teamwork: Working with other members of your wait staff can be a great way to ensure that all of your customers are satisfied. By working together, you can help each other complete tasks, like taking orders or delivering food. You can also help each other learn new skills, like how to operate a new point of sale system.

Waiter Work Environment

Waiters work in restaurants, bars, hotels, and other food service establishments. They typically work long hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. They may work full time or part time, and their schedules may vary depending on the establishment’s hours of operation. Some waiters may be required to work split shifts, which means working for a few hours, taking a break, and then working again for a few hours. Waiters may be on their feet for long periods of time and may have to lift heavy trays of food. They also may be exposed to kitchen hazards, such as sharp knives and hot ovens.

Waiter Trends

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

More Focus on Customer Experience

As customer service becomes more important, businesses are placing a greater emphasis on providing a positive customer experience. This means that waiters will need to be able to provide excellent service and understand the needs of their customers.

In order to be successful in this environment, waiters will need to be able to anticipate the needs of their customers and provide them with what they want without being asked. They will also need to be able to handle difficult situations and deal with customers who are unhappy.

More Attention on Food Quality

As diners become more interested in food quality, waiters will need to focus on providing excellent service. This includes not only serving good food, but also making sure that the dining experience is enjoyable for the customer.

Waiters can capitalize on this trend by developing strong interpersonal skills and becoming familiar with the menu. In addition, they should be prepared to answer any questions that customers may have about the food or the restaurant itself.

The Growth of Casual Dining

Casual dining restaurants are growing in popularity, as more people are looking for an affordable option that still provides a high-quality meal. This is great news for waiters, as it means that there will be increased demand for their services.

As casual dining restaurants grow in popularity, waiters will need to adapt their skills to meet the needs of these customers. This includes being able to provide excellent customer service, as well as knowledge of the menu and the restaurant’s wine list.

How to Become a Waiter

A career as a waiter can be a great way to get started in the hospitality industry. It’s a job that requires a lot of customer service skills, so it’s a great opportunity to learn how to interact with people and make them happy. You’ll also need to be able to work quickly and efficiently, so you can serve multiple tables at once.

As you progress in your career, you may want to move into a more specialized role, such as maître d’ or head waiter. These jobs require additional training and experience, but they can lead to even more opportunities within the industry.

Advancement Prospects

Waiter is often considered an entry-level position in the food service industry. However, with experience, a waiter can be promoted to a position such as maitre d’hotel, head waiter, captain, or food and beverage manager. In some restaurants, the head waiter is responsible for the dining room, and the captain is responsible for the waitstaff. The maitre d’hotel is responsible for both the dining room and the waitstaff. A food and beverage manager is responsible for all food and beverage operations in a restaurant, including the kitchen.

In order to be promoted to a higher position, a waiter must demonstrate leadership qualities, such as the ability to train and supervise other waiters. He or she must also have a thorough knowledge of the menu and the wine list, and be able to make recommendations to diners. In addition, a waiter must be able to handle customer complaints in a professional manner.

Waiter Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we provide our guests with an upscale dining experience, and our waitstaff are a big part of making that happen. We’re looking for a professional waiter to join our team and provide excellent service to our guests. The ideal candidate will have prior experience as a waiter in a fine dining setting, as well as a strong knowledge of food and wine. He or she will be able to upsell menu items and wine selections to guests, and provide knowledgeable and courteous service.

As a waiter at [CompanyX], you will be responsible for taking orders, serving food and drinks, and providing an overall enjoyable dining experience for our guests. You will also be responsible for handling payments and preparing guest bills.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Greet and seat guests in a professional and courteous manner
  • Anticipate guest needs, build rapport, and provide exceptional service throughout the dining experience
  • Take food and beverage orders accurately, inputting them into the point-of-sale system in a timely manner
  • Serve food and beverages promptly and efficiently, checking for proper presentation and temperature
  • Check back with guests regularly to ensure they are satisfied with their meals and taking care of any additional needs
  • Handle guest complaints in a calm and professional manner, escalating them to a manager as necessary
  • Adhere to all food safety and sanitation regulations
  • Work as a team with other servers and support staff to ensure smooth and efficient operations
  • Perform opening and closing side work duties as assigned
  • Maintain a clean and organized workstation
  • Follow up with guests after their meal to thank them for dining with us and invite them back
  • Process guest payments accurately and in a timely manner

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Proven experience as a waiter or waitress
  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Friendly and outgoing personality
  • Good organizational and multitasking abilities
  • Ability to stand for long periods of time

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Some college education
  • Previous experience in a fine dining restaurant
  • ServSafe certification
  • Fluency in another language

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