Waiter/Waitress  What They Do

Just the Facts


Takes orders and serves food and beverages to patrons in dining establishments.

This career is part of the Hospitality and Tourism cluster Restaurants and Food/Beverage Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Checks with customers to ensure that they are enjoying their meals and take action to correct any problems.
  • Collects payments from customers.
  • Writes patrons' food orders on order slips, memorizes orders, or enters orders into computers for transmittal to kitchen staff.
  • Prepares checks that itemize and total meal costs and sales taxes.
  • Takes orders from patrons for food or beverages.
  • Checks patrons' identification to ensure that they meet minimum age requirements for consumption of alcoholic beverages.
  • Serves food or beverages to patrons, and prepares or serves specialty dishes at tables as required.
  • Presents menus to patrons and answers questions about menu items, making recommendations upon request.
  • Cleans tables or counters after patrons have finished dining.
  • Prepares hot, cold, and mixed drinks for patrons, and chills bottles of wine.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Exerting oneself physically over long periods of time without getting out of breath
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Rotating shift work
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Bartender -- Mixes and serve alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Car Hop -- Serves food and refreshments to patrons in cars.
  • Cocktail Server -- Takes drink orders and serves beverages and additional duties may include cleaning off tables, ringing up totals at the register and checking identification to make sure customers are old enough to drink.
  • Food and Beverage Server -- Takes patrons' food and beverage orders and serve orders to patrons.
  • Host/Hostess -- Greets arriving guests, welcomes them into the establishment and seats them.
  • Sommelier -- Specializes in all aspects of wine service as well as wine and food pairing.