Restaurant Server: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Oct 20, 2021

A restaurant server's job description includes serving guests and meeting their needs for a pleasant dining experience. Find out more about server responsibilities and other aspects of a food server job description, like salary and job outlook.

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What Does a Restaurant Server Do?

A restaurant server may also be known as a food server or waiter/waitress. These servers work to help ensure customers in a restaurant have everything they need and enjoy their experience. Below, we break down different aspects of a food server's job, including job duties, requirements, and salary.

Restaurant Servers Job Description and Work Environment

A restaurant server may only work part-time but is often required to work irregular hours, such as evenings, weekends, and holidays. Depending on the establishment, servers may be required to wear a uniform as they serve guests, and they are on their feet most of their work shift. Working as a server is often fast-paced and requires serving multiple guests at once.

Primary Server Responsibilities

The primary responsibilities for restaurant servers include anything having to do with directly caring for guests. This usually begins with the server greeting customers, taking drink and food orders, and delivering orders to the kitchen staff. Once the food is ready, servers bring the food to the customers and make sure everything is correct. Other duties helping customers may include:

  • Answering questions about the menu
  • Getting any utensils, condiments, or other items customers need
  • Preparing the check
  • Processing payment

Additional Server Duties

Depending on the restaurant, servers may have additional duties that are not directly involved in serving customers. These duties typically help keep the restaurant running smoothly and may be shared amongst other positions, such as bussing staff. Some of these duties may include:

  • Clearing and cleaning tables after customers have left
  • Preparing dining areas
  • Stocking supplies and service areas
  • Learning the menu, such as specials and allergy information

What Is Required to Be a Restaurant Server?

Usually restaurant servers are not required to have any formal education but typically undergo some on-the-job training. Some states require servers to obtain certification or training in food service and safety, and most states require servers to be of a certain age to serve alcohol.

Although formal education is not usually required for servers, there are many free online hospitality courses and training programs available, as well as schools that offer free online hospitality and service management education. Individuals considering a career in hospitality may also consider an undergraduate degree in the field, such as an associate's degree in hospitality management or bachelor's in hospitality and tourism management.

How Much Does a Restaurant Server Make?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the average annual salary for waiters and waitresses was $25,830 as of 2018. However, servers who worked in the travel arrangement and reservation services industry made the highest average salary of $45,680 in the same year. Top paying states for waiters and waitresses in 2018 included Hawaii, Washington, and New York.

What Is the Job Outlook for a Restaurant Server?

The BLS also reported that employment of waiters and waitresses was expected to grow 6% from 2018 to 2028. This is as fast as the national average and may be attributed to a growing population and expected growth in the number of restaurants. There is also usually a high turnover rate in the profession.

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