Restaurant server highlights
- Restaurant servers average around $2.13 per hour plus tips.
- Restaurant server jobs offer flexible scheduling and the opportunity to walk out of each shift with cash in your pocket.
- You'll need to be social, able to multitask and work in a team.
What do restaurant servers do?
Do you love making people feel welcome and comfortable? Do your dinner parties create a buzz because of your ability to play host and your enthusiasm about providing people with an excellent experience? High-end waiters and waitresses get to do all this without having to worry about the cooking or the cleanup. That's because restaurant servers focus on guest experience. If you have excellent customer service skills, this may be a potential career path for you.
The role of fine dining servers isn’t just about taking orders and getting the food to the table. Really good restaurant servers (i.e. the ones who make the big bucks) create a warm, hospitable dining experience for their guests, which means you’ll need to enjoy interacting with people. This is also a sales role so you will need to be able to upsell and push specials. You'll be responsible for greeting guests as they are seated and handling multiple tables while making each one feel like you only have eyes for them. Each guest has his or her own food preferences (or allergies) so you will need to be able to remember guests' special requests. You must be able to work independently, but also be ready to step in and help serve other tables, take requests and perhaps running food as needed.
Don’t expect to just walk into a five star restaurant and land a serving job – fine dining establishments typically require extensive experience waiting tables (and it always helps to know someone who works there, too). If you enjoy being part of a successful wait staff already, becoming a restaurant server can be the next step in your career. Employers will expect you to have solid sales skills, so they will put you through their training programs so you can start bringing in the dough (not actual dough, the kitchen gets orders of that every week). People will have all sorts of food questions and requests – how items are prepped and cooked as well as what ingredients are used- so you will need to know the menu inside and out.
How much do restaurant servers make?
The average hourly pay for servers is around $2.13 per hour. That's it? The restaurant server's bounty comes from tips. The $2.13 per hour is there to cover taxes so you can walk out each shift with cash in your pocket. Depending on the night, fine dining restaurant servers can average $20 to $50 per hour in tips.
What are the education requirements to be a server?
A high school diploma or GED is sufficient education for a restaurant server position. Though you will probably need prior experience waiting tables to land a high end server position, most employers will offer short-term, on-site training so you can learn the ins-and-outs of their restaurant and menu.
Career paths for restaurant servers
The restaurant industry is ripe with career opportunities. There are many opportunities to move up, depending on the location and establishment. A high-end restaurant server can make a very good career. Some restaurants won’t let you start as a server. At some of the high-end establishments, food runners and servers assistants are entry-level positions for candidates with little to no experience in the industry. From there you can learn more about the food, business and craft of serving. Wait staff can become shift leaders, bar tenders and even restaurant managers. Employers usually provide the additional training required for ambitious individuals. Each restaurant typically has several assistant managers, who oversee each area of the restaurant (kitchen, front of the house, etc.), and one general manager who oversees the entire restaurant's operation. These positions require additional training, which is usually provided by the employer.
The future of restaurant server jobs
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of restaurant server jobs is expected to grow slowly over the 2008-2018 decade. The position offers job security and growth opportunities.