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Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers Job Description, Career as a Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers, Salary, Employment

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

Education and Training On-the-job training

Salary Median—$7.68 per hour

Employment Outlook Excellent

Food and beverage serving and related workers are the key players within restaurants, coffee shops, and other food service establishments. They have many responsibilities including greeting and seating customers, providing menus, taking food and drink orders, and serving food and beverages. The main purpose of the team is to help each other improve workflow and to provide excellent customer service for all patrons.

Food and beverage serving and related workers usually work as part of a team which may include a host/hostess, waiters and waitresses, dining room and cafeteria attendants, bartenders and bartender assistants, and counter attendants. These positions vary depending on the type of food service establishment and the roles of each crew member.

Food and beverage serving and related workers should have good interpersonal skills, have a neat appearance, be organized, enjoy working with others, and possess excellent customer service skills.

Education and Training Requirements

Although there are no educational requirements for applying for food and beverage serving and related worker jobs, most employers prefer to employ high school graduates for positions, such as a waiter or waitress, host or hostess, or a bartender. Fast-food establishments, on the other hand, do not require high school completion.

Most food and beverage serving and related workers receive on-the-job training from their employer. Previous work experience is not necessary. Training may include safe food handling procedures and the correct sanitation practices. Other employers may combine on-the-job training with some classroom education.

Many food and beverage serving and related workers are part-time employees who are not planning a career in the food service industry, which may include college students, teenagers, and homemakers.

Getting the Job

Job seekers may apply directly to the food service establishment of their choice, check with state employment offices, scan newspaper ads, as well as Internet resources which post jobs for the food service industry. Applicants with a degree may work together with the college or university placement and career center in locating job opportunities in their field.

Food service employees must possess excellent customer service skills, be hard-working and responsible and be able to work as a team.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Food and beverage servers and related workers can expect excellent job opportunities for the next seven years. New positions will arise due to more individuals and families eating out, as well as the turnover rate which will require replacing those employees who leave the food service industry. The best job opportunities will be in popular restaurants as well as fine dining establishments.

Advancement opportunities are limited for food and beverage serving and related workers. Most advancement comes from within the company and is based on experience. For example, a dining room attendant can move up to become a waitress after several years of experience. Others take their experience and move into positions at other food service establishments in hopes to earn more money. Bartenders, hosts/hostesses, and waiters/waitresses sometimes advance into supervisory roles, such as assistant manager, restaurant general manager, or dining room supervisor. Some employees who show great ambition may be asked to enter the company’s management training program. In addition, some bartenders start their own business.

Working Conditions

Food and beverage serving and related workers spend most of the time on their feet, carrying heavy trays of food and dishes. During the busy times of the day, they work under pressure while providing efficient service for their customers. Although their work environment is rather safe, food and beverage serving and related workers must be careful not to slip, fall, or burn themselves while working.

The food service industry generally maintains long dining hours and offers flexible work schedules for their employees. Most food and beverage serving and related workers typically work part-time and fall between the ages of 16 and 19 years old. Many students and teenagers accept positions as food and beverage serving and related workers for extra spending money and to gain some work experience. Flexible work schedules may include evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Where to Go for More Information

National Restaurant Association
1200 17th St. NW
Washington, DC 20036-3097

The International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education
2810 N. Parham Rd., Ste. 230
Richmond, VA 23294

State employment services and local employers also have information on job opportunities for food and beverage serving and related workers.

Earnings and Benefits

Food and beverage serving and related workers’ earnings are a combination of hourly wages and customer tips. The median salary of all food and beverage serving and related workers combined in 2006 was $7.68 per hour. Each position differs, however, their wages generally fall somewhere between $7.24 an hour to $8.70 an hour. Many inexperienced workers or those entering the work force for the first time earn the Federal minimum wage of the state they reside in. However, some states set minimum wages slightly higher than the Federal minimum.

Food and beverage serving and related workers who receive customer tips, such as waiters and waitresses, may make only $2.13 an hour but are allowed to include all tips as part of their wages. Some establishments require tips to go into a tip pool, which is then distributed to all qualifying employees. This way, employees who don’t usually receive tips directly from customers can share the rewards of good customer service as a team.

Benefits vary by employer. Part-time employees do not receive typical benefits; however, they, in addition to full-time employees, may receive free meals, or meals at a reduced cost. Employers may also supply uniforms for their employees. Full-time workers usually receive typical benefits which may include health and life insurance, and paid vacations.

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