Waiter

Waitress, waiting staff, server

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Waiters serve food and drinks to customers in restaurants and cafes, take orders and handle payments.

Salary range: £12,000 to £27,000

How to become a waiter

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • volunteering
  • applying directly

College

You could prepare for this job by doing a college course to get some of the skills you’ll need. Courses include:

  • Level 1 Award in Introduction to Employment in the Hospitality Industry
  • Level 1 Certificate in Food and Beverage Service

Entry requirements

You may need:

  • 2 or fewer GCSEs at grades 3 to 1 (D to G), or equivalent, for a level 1 course

More information

Apprenticeship

You could get into this job through a hospitality team member intermediate apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship

More information

Volunteering and experience

You could volunteer in a cafe run by a local community organisation or a charity like the Royal Voluntary Service. This will help you to develop your skills before you apply for paid work.

You can find more volunteering opportunities through Do-it.

Direct application

You can apply for jobs without experience, though you’ll have an advantage if you’ve worked in customer service before. Your employer will train you on the job.

More information

Further information

You can get more details about working as a waiter from the Hospitality Guild.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • customer service skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • a desire to help people
  • active listening skills
  • a good memory
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • greeting customers as they arrive and showing them to their table
  • giving out menus and taking orders for food and drink
  • serving food and drinks
  • dealing with bill payments
  • making sure tables are clean and tidy

Working environment

You could work at a restaurant.

Your working environment may be hot, humid and noisy.

You may need to wear a uniform.

Career path and progression

With experience you may be able to progress to head waiter or waitress, or restaurant supervisor.

You may also be able to go into related areas of work like restaurant and kitchen management or purchasing.

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