- On average, waiters and waitresses make $7.14 an hour
- Tips usually make up most of waiters' and waitresses' pay
- Waiter and waitress jobs are great for people with outgoing personalities
Are you the type of person who can charm even the grumpiest of old men? Could you carry a hot bowl of soup through a hurricane without breaking a sweat? Then you’ve got what it takes to be a great waiter or waitress. Most waiters and waitresses, also called servers, work in full-service restaurants. They greet customers, take food orders, bring food and drinks to the tables and take payment and make change.
Casual dining restaurants and cafes will expect you to be quick, efficient and friendly. Casual dining restaurants can be small family-owned restaurants or larger chain restaurants like Applebee's and Cracker Barrel . You may have to make drinks, salads and desserts all while serving several tables at one time.
Upscale restaurants will require a little more of you. You may need to know about wine and food pairings, understand how each dish is prepared and be able to make food recommendations to customers. Some fine dining restaurants even require servers to prepare specialty food items at a customer's table.
Make no mistake, being a waiter or waitress is hard work. You will have to deal with rude customers, screaming children and people who don't tip. You will roll a lot of silverware and clean a lot of ketchup bottles. Your feet will hurt. But it's a great career for someone who likes to work with people, and waiting tables can be great money for someone with the right mix of personality and serving skills.
How much do waiters and waitresses make?
Since most of your pay will likely come from tips, the better a server you are, the more money you'll make. But on average, waiters and waitresses make $7.14 an hour. The minimum a restaurant can pay you is $2.13 an hour - the rest of your pay will come from tips. However, if you score a job in a busy, expensive restaurant, you can make upwards of $20 an hour on a good night. Beware, though: if you get stuck with bad tippers or a bad shift you can end up walking out with little or no money.
You'll be getting a lot of on-the-job training as a server, but for the most part, no formal education is required. Some do require that you have a high school diploma. Having a bachelor's degree is always a plus - especially if you want to end up in a fine dining restaurant or eventually enter management.
Career paths for waiters and waitresses
After working your way up to a coveted shift at your first waiter or waitress job , it's likely that you'll move on to a better-paying server position at a different restaurant. After working there for a few years, you may transition into a managerial role. Some restaurants have a formal manager training program, while others require several years of experience before promoting servers.
The future of waiter and waitress jobs
People like to go out to eat, and that's not going to change anytime soon. According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), there will be nearly 2.6 million waiter and waitress jobs available by the year 2016, which is 13 percent more than are available now.
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