Career Development

What Does a Waitress Do?

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

Waitresses are the frontline employees of the restaurant industry. They are responsible for taking orders, serving food and beverages, clearing tables, and interacting with customers. They work hard to ensure that every customer has a positive experience at their restaurant—and they do so while juggling multiple tasks and competing demands on their time.

Waitress Job Duties

Waitresses have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Taking food orders from patrons and serving food and drinks to customers at their tables
  • Cleaning tables, floors, and other surfaces in the dining area as needed
  • Collecting payment for bills from customers, handling cash transactions, and making change for large bills
  • Assisting waiters or waitresses in serving food and beverages to customers at their tables
  • Clearing plates and flatware from tables between courses of a meal
  • Stocking serving supplies such as silverware, glassware, napkins, and plates in the kitchen
  • Answering phone calls to take reservations or make changes to existing reservations
  • Cleaning and organizing the kitchen area of the restaurant as needed, including washing dishes and scrubbing floors
  • Serving alcoholic drinks to customers who are of legal age to consume alcohol

Waitress Salary & Outlook

Waitresses’ salaries vary depending on their level of experience, the type of restaurant they work in, and the size of the restaurant.

  • Median Annual Salary: $25,000 ($12.02/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $70,500 ($33.89/hour)

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

Employment growth will be driven by the continued popularity of casual, full-service restaurants. However, some employment growth may be limited by the increasing popularity of food delivery services, which allow customers to order food from their phones or computers and have it delivered to their homes.

Waitress Job Requirements

A waitress may be required to have the following:

Education: Most waitresses have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED certificate. Some employers prefer a minimum of one to two years of experience in a customer service or hospitality role. Some employers may require a minimum of an associate’s degree in hospitality or a related field.

Training & Experience: Most waitresses learn the specific skills and techniques they need for their role while on the job. Training may include learning how to use the point of sale system, taking orders and serving food and beverages. Training may also include learning how to clean and maintain the dining area. Waitresses who have previous experience in the food service industry may transfer skills such as customer service and cash handling to work in a new establishment.

Certifications & Licenses: Waitresses need to obtain a food handler’s permit in the state in which they work. While some restaurants may require waitresses to have a certified food handler’s certificate, most waitresses can obtain a permit to show their knowledge of safe food handling techniques.

Waitress Skills

Waitresses need the following skills in order to be successful:

Customer service: Customer service skills are a necessary component of being a waitress. You should be able to interact with customers in a friendly and welcoming manner. You should be able to answer questions about the menu, take orders and make recommendations. You should also be able to handle any customer complaints professionally.

Communication: Waitressing is a job that requires you to communicate with customers, other wait staff and kitchen staff. You should be able to listen to and understand customers’ needs, as well as relay messages to other employees. You should also be able to communicate with customers to take orders, explain menu items and answer questions.

Organization: Waitressing is a fast-paced job that requires you to multi-task and stay organized. You should be able to prioritize tasks and keep track of your tables’ orders. This can help you serve your customers more efficiently and keep your tables happy.

Attention to detail: Waitresses should have excellent attention to detail to ensure they provide quality service to their customers. This skill allows them to notice if a customer needs more water, if a table needs to be cleared or if a customer’s order is ready. It’s important that waitresses are able to notice any changes in their environment so they can adjust accordingly.

Flexibility: Flexibility is the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Waitresses should be flexible in order to handle any situation that arises. This includes being able to change a table’s order if the customer decides they don’t want what they originally ordered. It also includes being able to change a table’s order if the customer is ready to pay before they’ve finished their meal.

Waitress Work Environment

Waitresses work in restaurants, coffee shops, cafeterias, and other food-service establishments. They typically work shifts that include evenings and weekends, and they may work more than 40 hours per week. Some waitresses work part time, and some work full time. The work can be physically demanding, and waitresses may be required to stand for long periods of time and to lift heavy trays of food. They also may be exposed to kitchen hazards, such as sharp knives and hot ovens. The work can be stressful, and waitresses must be able to handle customer complaints and demands in a professional manner.

Waitress Trends

Here are three trends influencing how waitresses work. Waitresses 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 waitresses will need to be able to provide excellent service and understand what customers want.

Waitresses can use this trend to their advantage by developing skills in customer service and hospitality. They can also focus on creating a positive atmosphere for customers by being friendly and welcoming.

The Growth of Casual Dining

Casual dining is becoming increasingly popular as people look for ways to enjoy good food without having to dress up or make a reservation. This trend is causing a growth in the restaurant industry, which is good news for waitresses who are looking for work.

As casual dining becomes more popular, waitresses will need to be familiar with the menu items and be able to provide excellent customer service. In addition, they will need to be able to handle busy shifts and be comfortable working in a fast-paced environment.

More Diversity Among Customers

As the world becomes more diverse, so too does the population of customers that waitresses serve. This means that waitresses will need to be prepared to deal with a variety of different cultures and customs.

In order to be successful in this environment, waitresses will need to be able to communicate effectively and understand the needs of their customers. They will also need to be able to adapt quickly to changes in the workplace.

How to Become a Waitress

A waitress career can be a great way to get started in the hospitality industry. It’s a job that offers flexibility, so you can work when you want and where you want. You may also have the opportunity to move up the ladder and become a manager or even own your own restaurant.

To be successful as a waitress, you need to be friendly and outgoing, able to handle difficult customers, and have good communication skills. You should also be able to work quickly and efficiently, stay on your feet for long periods of time, and be able to lift heavy objects.

Advancement Prospects

The most common way to advance in this career is to move up the ladder within a single restaurant. For example, a waitress might start out as a server and eventually become a head server or manager. Another way to advance is to move to a better paying position in a different restaurant. For example, a waitress might move from a family-style restaurant to a more upscale establishment. In both cases, the waitress would likely need to have several years of experience and a good track record to be considered for the new position.

Some experienced waitresses open their own restaurants. This can be a risky proposition, but if successful, it can lead to a very lucrative career. Other waitresses use their experience to get into related fields such as catering or event planning.

Waitress 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, experienced waitress to join our team. The ideal candidate will have excellent customer service skills, the ability to multi-task and stay organized in a fast-paced environment, and a positive attitude. He or she will be responsible for taking orders, serving food and drinks, and providing a high level of customer service to our guests.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Greet customers as they arrive and seat them at their table
  • Take orders for food and drinks, and relay this information to the kitchen staff
  • Serve food and drinks to customers according to their order
  • Check with customers periodically to ensure that they are satisfied with their meal and service
  • Handle customer complaints in a professional and courteous manner
  • Clear away used dishes and cutlery from tables
  • Reset tables for the next customer
  • Prepare bills and process payments
  • Stock supplies such as napkins, utensils, and condiments
  • Perform cleaning duties such as sweeping and mopping floors, and cleaning bathrooms
  • Assist in the preparation of food items when necessary
  • Adhere to all health and safety regulations

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Proven experience as a waitress
  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Friendly, positive attitude
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to multitask and work in a fast-paced environment
  • Basic math skills

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Some college coursework
  • ServSafe certification
  • Bilingual
  • Previous experience in a fine dining restaurant
  • Extensive knowledge of food and wine

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