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Waiting staff

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Waiting staff serve customers in restaurants and cafes by taking orders and payment, serving food and preparing tables.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £12,000 to £27,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements, but you'll need a good standard of maths and English and excellent communication skills. Previous customer service experience would be helpful.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • the ability to remain calm under pressure
  • the ability to memorise orders
  • numeracy skills

3. What you'll do

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

You'll also be on hand to answer any questions and make sure that customers enjoy their experience.

In formal restaurants your work may include silver service (plating the items of a meal at the table). You'll usually work in a team under the supervision of a head waiter or waitress, known as the maître d’.

You could also specialise in work as a wine waiter or waitress, called a sommelier.

4. Salary

Starter: £12,000 to £16,000

Experienced: £17,000 to £20,000

Highly Experienced: £22,000 to £27,000 (head waiter/waitress)

You'll usually be paid a set hourly rate. Tips may increase your income.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work shifts including evenings, weekends and public holidays.

Restaurants and kitchens can be hot, humid, noisy and busy.

You'll need a smart appearance and you'll usually be provided with a uniform.

6. 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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Last updated: 28 September 2018