How to Become a Waitress

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Waitresses take orders and ensure the customers' demands are met at a restaurant. Although there is no formal education required to become a waitress, most employers prefer applicants to have at least a high school diploma or GED. Waitresses work at hotels, restaurants, bars, casinos, cruise ships, convention centers, and banquet halls.[1]

Wikimedia Commons: Json
Education No formal education required[2]
Starting pay $7.79 per hour with tips[3]
Median pay $8.92 per hour with tips[3]
10 yr. growth Slower than average: 6%[2]
Related professions Bartender, cook, restaurant manager
Author Selena Robinson

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Waitress Job Overview

Waitresses, who may also be called servers at some dining establishments, have several duties. Their tasks usually include greeting customers, presenting menus, recommending selections, explaining menu selections and cooking methods, detailing the daily specials, giving a list of ingredients, answering questions, preparing drinks, taking meal orders, relaying the meal orders to the kitchen staff, and serving the meal when it is ready.[1]

Waitress Education

Waitresses are not required to earn a college degree or have a formal education. However, most restaurants and hotels prefer to hire applicants who have earned at least a high school diploma or GED. GED classes and resources are usually available at local libraries, career centers, and community colleges.[4] Students can enroll in online high school diploma and GED classes, such as that provided by Penn Foster. More information is available at

Waitress Training

Waitresses usually practice under the guidance of a senior staff member for three days before working on their own. During this phase, they learn how to use a form of shorthand to take orders. This allows them to take orders quickly. Waitresses also learn how to handle customer complaints and how to follow safety procedures that may be unique to the establishment. They also memorize the menu selection, cooking methods, and ingredients.[5]

Licensing for Waitresses

Some states require waitresses to apply for a license if they serve alcoholic beverages as part of their job duties. While regulations vary from state to state, most guidelines require applicants take a class in safety and sanitation, pass a drug and alcohol screening test, and avoid receiving any felony convictions.[4]

Waitress Interview Process

A typical interview for a waitress job

Also See: How to Become a Caterer, How to Become a Banquet Manager, How to Become a Restaurant Cook, How to Become a Barista


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