Food Service Workers

Food Service Worker Greets Customer

Food service workers include waiters (the term waiter refers to both male and female servers) of many different types, as well as counter attendants, dining room attendants, hosts, fast food workers, kitchen assistants, and others. These workers take customers' orders, serve food and beverages, make out customers' checks, and sometimes take payments. These basic duties, however, may vary greatly depending on the specific kind of food service establishment. There are more than 12.5 million food preparation and serving related workers employed in the United States.

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Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) Bartenders, Captains, Counter Attendants, Dining Room Attendants, Fast Food Workers, Headwaiters, Hosts, Kitchen Assistants, Maitre d's, Sommeliers, Waiters
Duties Take customers’ orders; serve food and beverages; prepare customers’ checks; take payment and give change
Salary Range Below $25,000 to $50,000
Work Environment Primarily Indoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Opportunities exist in all regions, but are best in large, metropolitan areas with heavy tourist and business traffic
Minimum Education Level
  • High School Diploma
School Subjects
  • Business
  • Family and Consumer Science
  • Speech
Experience Volunteer or part-time experience serving food
Personality Traits
  • Hands On
  • Helpful
  • Outgoing
  • Interpersonal
  • Mechanical/Manual Dexterity
  • Organizational
Certification or Licensing Required
Special Requirements Bartenders and sommeliers must be at least 21 years of age to serve alcohol; many states require food service workers to pass a physical examination and receive a certificate that confirms that they are not carriers of contagious diseases
Employment Prospects Excellent
Advancement Prospects Good
Outlook Faster than the Average
Career Ladder
  • Restaurant Owner
  • Food Service Manager
  • Food Service Worker
  • Food Service Trainee