How to become a waiter or waitress
By: Jean-Paul Diaz-Caneja
Reading time: 3 min

Being a waiter is so much more than taking people’s orders, dropping them to their table and then collecting the cheque at the end. It’s a job that’s not only popular, but one that can also lead to a remarkable number of roles across different restaurants, bars, events and gatherings. Furthermore, it can serve as the first role on the way to much greater steps up the hospitality ladder.

So, what can you expect from a job as a waiter, and what skills should you have to do the job to the expected standard? Let us guide you through this popular career option…

Job basics

  • Entry salary: Around £15,000pa
  • Experienced salary: £20,000+pa
  • Average hours: 35-40 (full-time); 15-20 (part-time)

What do waiters do?

  • Welcome, take orders from, and serve guests
  • Respond to any questions or complaints
  • Take payments using the technology provided
  • Offer food and drink recommendations, and let people know of any sales or specials on offer
  • Clean and reset tables between guests
  • Communicate important information with the kitchen, e.g. dietary requirements or allergies

What qualities should a waiter have?

As with any job in the service industry, one of the most important things you need to have is a positive, helpful personality, and plenty of confidence. You’ll likely deal with people from all backgrounds, so a keen understanding of people is essential – especially if you’re working for tips!

However, behind all of this, you need to have your eyes on the bottom line. You’ll be dealing with numbers, and with large orders – even with the help of a trusty notepad, or even a more up-to-date iPad – you need an incredible memory to remember the different parts of an order, from allergies to simply the way people prefer their food or drink.

You’ll also need a steady hand (especially if you’re carrying food), perfect hygiene, and a level of unflappability; after all, you could be waiting on lots of tables at once, so you can’t be seduced by stress when trying to (not literally) spin plates throughout a shift. If this sounds up your alley, there are countless opportunities with waiters for hire.

How do I become qualified?

Luckily, most waiting jobs have a degree of flexibility when it comes to qualifications. It’s a popular job among students and those looking to get a role where they can learn on the go. That said, if you’re in university or at college and want to make the most of it, then look to get into Hospitality or Catering, and work from there. You could also do a short course that’s waiter-specific, too – it might literally only be a morning or afternoon, but you could learn a lot in very little time indeed!

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