Working As a Server (Waitress/Waiter): Job Duties, Requirements, and Other Expectations
Browse articles:
Auto Beauty Business Culture Dieting DIY Events Fashion Finance Food Freelancing Gardening Health Hobbies Home Internet Jobs Law Local Media Men's Health Mobile Nutrition Parenting Pets Pregnancy Products Psychology Real Estate Relationships Science Seniors Sports Technology Travel Wellness Women's Health
Browse companies:
Automotive Crafts, Hobbies & Gifts Department Stores Electronics & Wearables Fashion Food & Drink Health & Beauty Home & Garden Online Services & Software Sports & Outdoors Subscription Boxes Toys, Kids & Baby Travel & Events

Working As a Server (Waitress/Waiter): Job Duties, Requirements, and Other Expectations

With tons of restaurants all over the world, there's always a need for servers. Some people choose a job as a server out of desperate need for a job, while others opt for this position because they find it truly enjoyable and satisfying and find they can earn a decent living with this profession. Find out the requirements and job duties as well as other expectations of the position as server, or waiter/waitress.

There are tons of restaurants all over the world, so there is always a need for servers. Some people choose a job as a server out of desperate need for a job and fast cash, while others opt for this position because they find it truly enjoyable and satisfying and find they can earn a decent living with this profession.

Prerequisites and Requirements

Most establishments will hire someone as a server with or without prior experience, but every restaurant has there own preference and it depends greatly on how the potential employee presents themself during the interview. Many places hire high school students at the minimum age of 15 or 16 years old while some places only hire those over 18; some establishments may only hire those over the age of 21 depending on local laws and jurisdictions, whether there is alcohol and/or gambling on the premises, etc. This position does not usually require any formal education.

Friendliness and a kind face are essential characteristics of a server. They depend mostly on tips as their income, not an hourly wage. Waiter and waitresses must be able to communicate well with customers and have a good working knowledge of the full menu as well as any specials available, such as the "Catch of the Day" or a daily soup, to name a couple examples.

Multi-tasking is often a part of this job. Quite frequently, especially during busy shifts, a server must serve drinks and other refreshments, bread, etc then take an order and place it in the computer system (or give a handwritten order to a cook). Servers must check on multiple tables at a time and handle any requests they receive, such as a parton asking for extra salad dressing or a refill for their drink, among other things. Waiters and waitresses must serve the correct food to the correct customer while it is still hot (or cold, depending on what is being served) and in a timely manner whenever possible.

It is good for the server to have a good relationship with the cooks and the other servers. Sometimes assistance is required if a table has especially fussy or needy customers and the server cannot tend to their other tables as much as they'd like or when the food is ready to be served.

Job Duties of a Server

Aside from tending to customers, some establishments require their servers to do "prep work" such as washing, slicing, and otherwise preparing vegetables for salads, measuring out salad dressings, cleaning out the refrigerators, wiping down counters, appliances, walls, etc, and other duties. Some servers are required to bus, or clean, their tables and set them up for the next patron while other establishments hire a busperson to perform this task. 

Some restaurants also specify that a server must maintain restrooms, clean windows, maintain the outside perimeter such as flowers and other tasks.

This job can be very busy and stressful at times. Unfortunately, some people are condescending and not very kind to servers, which can take a toll if you allow it to get to you. Some people do not leave tips, and sometimes you have "regulars" that frequent the establishment and are always very troublesome with little to show for it (in other words, cheap!).

Pay Scale and Benefits for the Waiter/Waitress Position

As far as a set hourly rate, most servers only earn a few dollars an hour. Because they earn tips, they do not have to be paid the same minimum wage offered to those who do not earn tips. The majority of income earned from a server result from any tips they receive. Some establishments only pay about $3 an hour as the wage while others may pay upwards of $10 an hour or more sometimes, depending on location, duties required, experience, success of the business, and other factors.

Servers may fing part-time or full-time work. Some establishments provide benefits (such as health insurance and 401K) but most do not provide any benefits. Most servers work a flexible schedule, meaning their shifts may vary from day to day or week to week. Most servers must also work weekends as many establishments are open Saturdays and Sundays and these tend to be some of the busiest days in the restaurant business.

Many things vary from restaurant to restaurant, as aforementioned, and dress code is no exception. Some establishments provide uniforms while others require you to dress in certain colors and others may not care so much how you dress.

Of course, this set of requirements is generally speaking and all establishments are different, so if you are considering applying to be a server, be sure to ask any questions you may have so you are prepared for whatever may be required of you by your employer.


personal past experience as a waitress

Additional resources:

Need an answer?
Get insightful answers from community-recommended
in Part-Time Jobs on Knoji.
Would you recommend this author as an expert in Part-Time Jobs?
You have 0 recommendations remaining to grant today.
Comments (12)

I have not been a server but you offer a good outline here of the position. Well done.

Bethany, Thank you for the interesting facts on the job of a server and I really appreciated your insightful knowledge.

I think this series you are writing will prove useful to many people, nice work Bethany!

Well detailed article.

I was a waitress while in high school and college. Loved it! Met a lot of nice people (most people are nice) and always had pocket change.

Impressive work

Good outline of a server poosition

In Canada Waitstaff is paid a proper wage, often minimum wage but you can get raises, plus the tips too - which they should declare on taxes. It is hard work keeping track of the customers who are sometimes rude or demanding. I use to wait tables. One of the worst experiences was when jr hockey teams would come they made a heck of mess, emptying ketchup into their drinks, sugar onto the table... Do parents really let their kids behave like this at home? Why let them do it in public? With these teams of kids - you rarely got tips.

really tough job, good to see that you are writing for them

Good job description here. My aunt had a restaurant. When I was still in high school I would help out. Its great to meet people.

When I was in college, I worked as a server/waiter in the canteen of the university so I can study. I serve mostly girls and they gave me tips, in return I gave them tips in every examination, well composed Beth.

I'm a server/waiter in Myrtle Beach, a great tourist location with extreme varience in seasons of being slammed with 4-5 tables or slow as dirt with upto 10 tables.  It is crazy how often people come in contact with servers without having a general understanding of what we do and how our compesation works. 

Great article and thanks for the mutual support!