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How to become a Waiter/ Waitress

waiter/ waitress careers

What does a Waiter/ Waitress do?

Waiters and waitresses serve customers by taking orders, serving food and preparing tables. Making customers feel welcome and comfortable is an important part of their job. The exact duties performed vary with the working environment.

Waiters and waitresses greet customers as they arrive and show them to a table. They also give out menus, and take orders for food and drinks. At the end of the meal they deal with payment of the bill, and then ensure tables are clean and tidy. Sometimes drinks orders are taken by a specialist wine waiter or waitress.

In more formal restaurants silver service is provided. This involves serving the main part of the dish separately to the vegetables or accompaniments. In such restaurants a team of waiters and waitresses may be supervised by the head waiter or waitress, known as the maitre d’.

Senior waiters and waitresses, responsible for specific tables, are known as chefs de rang. They advise diners on menu choice, as well as serving food. There are also commis de rang waiters and waitresses, who are learning the skills involved under the guidance of an experienced member of staff.

Waiters and waitresses sometimes serve food at a carvery or buffet. In gueridon service the food is cooked at the table.

What's the working environment like working as a Waiter/ Waitress?

Waiters and waitresses are usually required to work evenings, and some weekends and public holidays. It is common to do shift work. Those working for contract caterers are more likely to work office hours.

Most employers expect waiters and waitresses to wear uniforms. These are often supplied or paid for by the employer.

Waiters/waitresses spend most of their time in the dining area. Some time will be spent in the kitchen, where it is likely to be hot, humid and noisy.

What does it take to become a Waiter/ Waitress?

Waiters and waitresses should be:

  • welcoming, friendly, and polite
  • comfortable with dealing with customers
  • interested in food and have a knowledge of drinks
  • clean and tidy, with high standards of personal hygiene
  • able to remain calm under pressure
  • aware of health and safety issues
  • able to memorise orders
  • numerate for dealing with bills and payments
  • physically fit
  • able to work on their own and as part of a team.

Waiter/ Waitress Career Opportunities

Employment opportunities exist in hotels, restaurants, cafes, bistros, bars, fast food outlets and contract catering companies throughout the UK.

It is possible to work overseas, although this usually requires a working knowledge of the language used.

Promotion prospects are related to the size of the organisation. Smaller organisations are unlikely to have a career structure. It may be necessary to change jobs to gain a promotion. Larger organisations are more likely to have a clear promotion structure, which may provide the opportunity to progress to head waiter or waitress, or restaurant supervisor.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Waiter/ Waitress that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Springboard UK
3 Denmark Street
Tel: 020 7497 8654

2nd Floor
Armstrong House
38 Market Square
Tel: 0870 060 2550

Facts and Stats:

  • The biggest curry was made in Essex in 1998 and weighed 2.65 tonnes
  • Restaurant grader, Fred Magel of Illinois USA, ate out a record 46,000 times in 50 years.
  • The most expensive meal recorded cost £13,091.20 for three in 1997, at Le Gavroche in London.
  • Denmark is the country with the highest calorie consumption per capita, closely followed by Portugal and then the USA. The UK does not rank in the top 10.