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Dishwasher Job Description, Career as a Dishwasher, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: On-the-job training

Salary: Median—$7.35 per hour

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Sparkling glasses and clean silverware make a good impression on restaurant customers. A clean table setting suggests that the restaurant will offer good service and wholesome food. The person responsible for providing clean tableware is the dishwasher.

After customers have completed their meal, a dining room attendant takes the dirty dishes to the dishwasher. Dishwashers scrape, sort, and stack the dishes, and then load them into dishwashing machines. Dishwashers fill the machines with soap and turn them on. When the dishes are clean, dishwashers unload them and put them in their proper places so that other kitchen workers and waiters and waitresses can find them.

In very large establishments dishwashers may perform only one or two jobs. For example, one dishwasher may scrape plates, while another dishwasher may be in charge of washing large pots and pans. Dishwashers often are responsible for other cleanup jobs. Sometimes they clean floors, cabinets, sinks, and counter-tops. Occasionally they perform some of the tasks of dining room attendants such as clearing tables and assisting waiters and waitresses.

Dishwashers work in every establishment that serves food, including restaurants, buffets, hotels, coffee shops, hospitals, and schools.

Education and Training Requirements

Dishwashers learn all their duties on the job. Some states require that dishwashers have a health certificate stating that they are free of communicable diseases.

Getting the Job

The best way for an interested individual to get a dishwashing job is to apply directly to restaurants or other places where they would like to work. Newspaper want ads often have listings for dishwashers. The state employment office may also list job openings.

Dishwashers must be strong enough to lift heavy dishes and pots and pans, and they must have enough stamina to stand or bend for long periods. (© Tim Garcha/zefa/Corbis.)

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

After obtaining some experience, dishwashers may advance to other jobs such as kitchen helper, dining room attendant, cook, or waiter or waitress. Taking courses in cooking and food service is helpful to those who wish to advance to a better job.

The employment outlook for dishwashers is expected to be good through the year 2014. The turnover rate for dishwashers is very high because about half of all dishwashers are students who change jobs when they graduate. Prospective dishwashers can almost always find jobs.

Working Conditions

The dishwashing area in a kitchen is often hot, damp, and noisy. Sometimes the work gets hectic when the restaurant is busy. This job requires lifting heavy baskets of dishes along with heavy pots and pans. In addition to strength, dishwashers need stamina because they stand for long periods during the workday.

Restaurants are open for long hours to best serve the public. As a result dishwashers are often required to work evenings, weekends, and holidays. Sometimes they work split shifts, in which they work for a few hours, leave, and return to work a few hours later. Full-time dishwashers work from forty to forty-eight hours per week; however, about half of all dishwashers work part time. The average workweek for dishwashers is less than thirty hours. Many dishwashers belong to labor unions.

Earnings and Benefits

Dishwashers typically start out earning the minimum wage. They may make more money if they work in a large, upscale restaurant. Dishwashers who belong to labor unions generally earn higher pay. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, dishwashers earned a median hourly wage of $7.35 in 2004.

Where to Go for More Information

The International Council on Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education
2810 Parham Rd., Ste. 230
Richmond, VA 23294
(804) 346-4800

275 Seventh Ave.
New York, NY 10001-6708
(212) 265-7000

Benefits vary according to the employer, the job's location, and whether the dishwasher works full time or part time. Most dishwashers receive free meals while at work. Full-time dishwashers may receive paid vacations and health insurance.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesHospitality and Recreation