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What Does it Take to Be a Waiter or Waitress?

Occupation Description Take orders and serve food and beverages to patrons at tables in dining establishment.

What Do Waiters and Waitresses Do On a Daily Basis?

  • Perform food preparation duties such as preparing salads, appetizers, and cold dishes, portioning desserts, and brewing coffee.
  • Prepare hot, cold, and mixed drinks for patrons, and chill bottles of wine.
  • Clean tables or counters after patrons have finished dining.
  • Stock service areas with supplies such as coffee, food, tableware, and linens.
  • Garnish and decorate dishes in preparation for serving.
  • Bring wine selections to tables with appropriate glasses, and pour the wines for customers.

What a Waiter or Waitress Should Know

Below is a list of the skills most Waiters and Waitresses say are important on the job.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Service Orientation: Actively looking for ways to help people.

Social Perceptiveness: Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Coordination: Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Types of Waiter or Waitress

  • Cocktail Server
  • Restaurant Server
  • Banquet Waiter/Waitress
  • Waiter
  • Deck Steward

Job Opportunities for Waiters and Waitresses

There were about 2,600,500 jobs for Waiter or Waitress in 2016 (in the United States). New jobs are being produced at a rate of 7% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 182,500 new jobs for Waiter or Waitress by 2026. The BLS estimates 522,700 yearly job openings in this field.


The states with the most job growth for Waiter or Waitress are Utah, Washington, and Arizona. Watch out if you plan on working in Ohio, West Virginia, or Maine. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Waiter or Waitress Average Salary

Waiters and Waitresses make between $17,330 and $40,780 a year.


Waiters and Waitresses who work in Hawaii, Vermont, or District of Columbia, make the highest salaries.

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Waiters and Waitresses in different U.S. states.

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $19,750
Alaska $25,610
Arizona $30,220
Arkansas $20,040
California $30,250
Colorado $25,510
Connecticut $26,350
Delaware $23,690
District of Columbia $48,120
Florida $26,120
Georgia $20,280
Hawaii $52,110
Idaho $20,780
Illinois $22,900
Indiana $22,300
Iowa $21,850
Kansas $20,140
Kentucky $19,450
Louisiana $18,630
Maine $27,550
Maryland $24,160
Massachusetts $31,920
Michigan $23,920
Minnesota $25,540
Mississippi $20,560
Missouri $21,420
Montana $20,990
Nebraska $25,610
Nevada $24,980
New Hampshire $24,850
New Jersey $27,530
New Mexico $20,770
New York $34,460
North Carolina $22,400
North Dakota $21,140
Ohio $22,650
Oklahoma $20,060
Oregon $28,640
Pennsylvania $24,850
Rhode Island $27,380
South Carolina $20,290
South Dakota $21,930
Tennessee $19,870
Texas $23,520
Utah $24,000
Vermont $34,560
Virginia $24,070
Washington $35,930
West Virginia $23,140
Wisconsin $23,330
Wyoming $23,670

Tools & Technologies Used by Waiters and Waitresses

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Waiters and Waitresses:

  • Facebook
  • Point of sale POS software
  • The General Store
  • Intuit QuickBooks Point of Sale
  • NCR NeighborhoodPOS
  • MICROS Systems HSI Profits Series
  • NCR Advanced Checkout Solution
  • Compris software
  • Compris Advanced Manager’s Workstation
  • Hospitality Control Solutions Aloha Point-of-Sale

Becoming a Waiter or Waitress

What education is needed to be a Waiter or Waitress?


How many years of work experience do I need?


Where Waiters and Waitresses Are Employed


The table below shows the approximate number of Waiters and Waitresses employed by various industries.


Similar Careers

Those interested in being a Waiter or Waitress may also be interested in:

Career changers with experience as a Waiter or Waitress sometimes find work in one of the following fields:


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More about our data sources and methodologies.

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