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Job Outlook for:
Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers

SOC: 35-3022        OOH: U221

Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers
Quick Stats
Total Jobs in 2016 5,122,600
Expected Growth 14%    (Faster than average)
New Jobs To Be Added
from 2016 to 2026
694,500
Median Pay Less than $25,000

 

 


Short video describing: Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers

 

 

Employment Outlook for Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers

Overall employment of food and beverage serving and related workers is projected to grow 14 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth, however, will vary by occupation. (See table below for details.)

As a growing population continues to dine out, purchase take-out meals, or have food delivered, more restaurants, particularly fast-food and casual dining restaurants, are expected to open. In response, more food and beverage serving workers, including fast-food workers, will be required to serve customers.

In addition, nontraditional food service operations, such as those inside grocery stores and cafeterias in hospitals and residential care facilities, will serve more prepared meals. Because these workers are essential to the operation of a food-serving establishment, they will continue to be in demand.

Job Prospects

Job prospects for food and beverage serving and related workers will be excellent because many workers leave the occupation each year, resulting in a large number of job openings.

Workers with related work experience and excellent customer-service skills should have the best job prospects at higher paying restaurants. Still, those seeking positions at these establishments will face strong competition because the prospect of higher earnings attracts many applicants.

 

 


 

Typical Pay for Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers

The median hourly wage for food and beverage serving and related workers was $9.44 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.13, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $12.98.

Median hourly wages for food and beverage serving and related workers in May 2016 were as follows:

Food servers, nonrestaurant $10.21
Food preparation and serving related workers, all other 10.14
Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers 9.71
Hosts and hostesses, restaurant, lounge, and coffee shop 9.60
Counter attendants, cafeteria, food concession, and coffee shop 9.60
Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food 9.35

In May 2016, the median hourly wages for food and beverage serving and related workers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private $10.68
Healthcare and social assistance 10.52
Retail trade 10.26
Special food services 10.01
Restaurants and other eating places 9.30

Although some workers in these occupations earn tips, most get their earnings from hourly wages alone. Many beginning or inexperienced workers earn the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour as of July 24, 2009), although many states set minimum wages higher than the federal minimum.

Tipped employees earn at least the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour, as of July 24, 2009), which may be paid as a combination of direct wages and tips, depending on the state. Direct wages may be as low as $2.13 per hour, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Also according to the FLSA, tipped employees are employees who regularly receive more than $30 a month in tips. The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor maintains a website listing minimum wages for tipped employees, by state, although some localities have enacted minimum wages higher than their state requires.

In some restaurants, workers may contribute all or a portion of their tips to a tip pool, which is distributed among qualifying workers. Tip pools allow workers who do not usually receive tips directly from customers, such as dining room attendants, to be part of a team and to share in the rewards for good service.

Employers may provide meals and uniforms, but may deduct the costs from the worker’s wages.

Many food and beverage serving and related workers were employed part time in 2016. For example, about half of combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food, the largest occupation in this profile, worked part time in 2016. Because of dining hours in food service and drinking establishments, early morning, late evening, weekend, and holidays work is common. Those who work in school cafeterias have more regular hours and may work only during the school year, usually 9 to 10 months.

In addition, business hours in restaurants allow for flexible schedules that appeal to many teenagers, who can gain work experience. Compared with all other occupations, a much larger proportion of food and beverage serving and related workers were 16 to 19 years old in 2016.



 

What Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers Do All Day

Food and beverage serving and related workers perform a variety of customer service, food preparation, and cleaning duties in restaurants, cafeterias, and other eating and drinking establishments.

Duties

Food and beverage serving and related workers typically do the following:

  • Greet customers and answer their questions about menu items and specials
  • Take food or drink orders from customers
  • Relay customers’ orders to other kitchen staff
  • Prepare food and drink orders, such as sandwiches, salads, and coffee
  • Accept payments and balance receipts
  • Serve food and drinks to customers at a counter, at a stand, or in a hotel room
  • Clean assigned work areas, dining tables, or serving counters
  • Replenish and stock service stations, cabinets, and tables
  • Set tables or prepare food trays for new customers

Food and beverage serving and related workers are the front line of customer service in restaurants, cafeterias, and other food service establishments. Depending on the establishment, they take customers’ food and drink orders and serve food and beverages.

Most work as part of a team, helping coworkers to improve workflow and customer service. The job titles of food and beverage serving and related workers vary with where they work and what they do.

The following are examples of types of food and beverage serving and related workers:

Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food, are employed primarily by fast-food and fast-casual restaurants. They take food and beverage orders, prepare or retrieve items when ready, fill cups with beverages, and accept customers’ payments. They also heat food items and make salads and sandwiches.

Counter attendants take orders and serve food over a counter in snack bars, cafeterias, movie theaters, and coffee shops. They fill cups with coffee, soda, and other beverages, and may prepare fountain specialties, such as milkshakes and ice cream sundaes. Counter attendants take carryout orders from diners and wrap or place items in containers. They clean counters, prepare itemized bills, and accept customers’ payments.

Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers—sometimes collectively referred to as bus staff—help waiters, waitresses, and bartenders by cleaning and setting tables, removing dirty dishes, and keeping serving areas stocked with supplies. They also may help waiters and waitresses by bringing meals out of the kitchen, distributing dishes to diners, filling water glasses, and delivering condiments. Cafeteria attendants stock serving tables with food trays, dishes, and silverware. They sometimes carry trays to dining tables for customers. Bartender helpers keep bar equipment clean and glasses washed.

Food servers, nonrestaurant, serve food to customers outside of a restaurant environment. Many deliver room service meals in hotels or meals to hospital rooms. Some act as carhops, bringing orders to customers in parked cars.

Hosts and hostesses greet customers and manage reservations and waiting lists. They may direct customers to coatrooms, restrooms, or a waiting area until their table is ready. Hosts and hostesses provide menus after seating guests.

 



 

Work Environment for Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers

Food and beverage serving and related workers held about 5.1 million jobs in 2016. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up food and beverage serving and related workers was distributed as follows:

Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food 3,452,200
Counter attendants, cafeteria, food concession, and coffee shop 505,200
Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers 431,200
Hosts and hostesses, restaurant, lounge, and coffee shop 409,200
Food servers, nonrestaurant 263,800
Food preparation and serving related workers, all other 60,900

The largest employers of food and beverage serving and related workers were as follows:

Restaurants and other eating places 74%
Retail trade 5
Special food services 5
Healthcare and social assistance 4
Educational services; state, local, and private 4

Food and beverage serving and related workers spend most of the time on their feet and often carry heavy trays of food, dishes, and glassware. During busy dining periods, they are under pressure to serve customers quickly and efficiently.

Injuries and Illnesses

Food preparation and serving areas in restaurants often have potential safety hazards, such as hot ovens and slippery floors. As a result, counter attendants, food servers, dining room and cafeteria attendants, and bartender helpers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Common hazards include slips, cuts, and burns, but the injuries are seldom serious. To reduce these risks, workers often wear gloves, aprons, or nonslip shoes.

Work Schedules

Many food and beverage serving and related workers were employed part time in 2016. For example, about half of combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food, the largest occupation in this profile, worked part time in 2016. Because food service and drinking establishments typically have extended dining hours, early morning, late evening, weekend, and holidays work is common. Those who work in school cafeterias have more regular hours and may work only during the school year, usually 9 to 10 months.

In addition, business hours in restaurants allow for flexible schedules that appeal to many teenagers, who can gain work experience. Compared with all other occupations, a much larger proportion of food and beverage serving and related workers were 16 to 19 years old in 2016.

 


 

How To Become a Food and Beverage Serving or Related Worker

Most food and beverage service workers receive short-term on-the-job training. There are no formal educational requirements.

Most states require workers, such as nonrestaurant servers, who serve alcoholic beverages to be 18 years of age or older.

Education

There are no formal education requirements for becoming a food and beverage serving worker.

Training

Most workers learn through on-the-job training, usually lasting several weeks. Training includes basic customer service, kitchen safety, safe food-handling procedures, and good sanitation habits.

Some employers, particularly those in fast-food restaurants, teach new workers with the use of self-study programs, online programs, audiovisual presentations, or instructional booklets that explain food preparation and service procedures. However, most food and beverage serving and related workers learn duties by watching and working with more experienced workers.

Some full-service restaurants provide new dining room employees with classroom training sessions that alternate with periods of on-the-job work experience. The training communicates the operating philosophy of the restaurant, helps new employees establish a personal rapport with other staff, teaches employees formal serving techniques, and instills a desire in the staff to work as a team.

Some nonrestaurant servers and bartender helpers who work in establishments where alcohol is served may need training on state and local laws concerning the sale of alcoholic beverages. Some states, counties, and cities mandate such training, which typically lasts a few hours and can be taken online or in-person.

Advancement

Advancement opportunities are limited to those who remain on the job for a long time. However, some dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers may advance to waiter, waitress, or bartender positions as they learn the basics of serving food or preparing drinks.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Food and beverage serving and related workers must listen carefully to their customers’ orders and relay them correctly to the kitchen staff so that the orders are prepared to the customers’ request.

Customer-service skills. Food service establishments rely on good food and customer service to keep customers and succeed in a competitive industry. As a result, workers should be courteous and be able to attend to customers’ requests.

Physical stamina. Food and beverage serving and related workers spend most of their work time standing, carrying heavy trays, cleaning work areas, and attending to customers’ needs.

Physical strength. Food and beverage serving and related workers need to be able to lift and carry stock and equipment that can weigh up to 50 pounds.

 

 

 

 

 

"Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers"   SOC:  35-3022     OOH Code: U221

Thank you BLS.gov.