Waitress and Bartending Salary

Food and beverage servers are the face of customer service at full service restaurants. They are responsible for seating customers, distributing menus, taking and serving drink and food orders as well as providing other requests to the best of their abilities. They are also responsible for knowing menu items to be able to answer customer questions and meet dietary needs. Servers are an integral part of the house staff to help regulate the flow of traffic in and out of the restaurant as well as to make sure basic customer needs are met.

Salary Overview

Overall take home wages are a combination of hourly pay and tips given by customers. Earnings usually vary depending on the type of establishment as well as the location in which the establishment operates. In many full service restaurants, tips received may be higher than the earnings made per hour depending on party size and cost of entire bill. In some restaurants, workers may contribute their tips to part of a pool in order to give an equal share to house staff and other workers who normally do not receive tips.

The median average hourly salary of waitresses and bartenders is usually the local minimum wage. This can be anywhere between $8.00 per hour to $8.75 per hour depending on local regulations. Factoring in additional tips usually accounts for a higher take home pay.*

*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/

Job Description and Outlook

Duties will vary based on the type of establishment in which you are employed. Regular full service restaurants will require serves to deliver basic food orders such as salads, soups, and entrees to customers seated at tables. Restaurants which also offer full bar service will also be required to serve alcoholic beverages and are responsible for checking identification of customers in order to verify he or she meets the age requirements and restrictions to purchase alcoholic beverages. Fine dining establishments will have set courses which need to be delivered in a specific order and will perform other duties such as filling water glasses and cleaning table tops in between service. Servers must also coordinate between the kitchen and table to update customers on the status of their meals to ensure everything is delivered hot and in a timely manner.

Waitresses and servers may perform other duties such as seating guests to their tables, as well as busing tables to clear them of dishes in preparation for the next group of guests and operating a cash register to total the customer’s final bill. Bartenders will fulfill drink orders given either directly from the customer or delivered by the server. Bartenders serve mixed drinks or serve on tap or bottled beverages quickly and accurately to meet customer needs and requests. Bartenders must be know how to mix a number of requested drinks accurately and in a timely manner from memory and be able to take custom orders. Other duties include taking and maintaining bar stock, as well as operating a cash register and cleaning bar ware and stemware for use.

Both Bartenders and Waitresses/servers must be able to stand on their feet for extended periods of time. They must also be able to lift and carry orders of dishes without incident or spilling to the customer. Often times, injuries from slipping, tripping or wet surfaces may occur.

Depending on the type of establishment, employers may require additional duties from bartenders and waitresses such as singing and dancing to provide entertainment to diners and customers. Additional bartenders may also be required to perform tricks, known as Flair bar tending to entertain customers while fulfilling drink orders.

Opportunities for Waitresses and Bartenders are expected to maintain current growth for the next 10 years.*

*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/

Training and Education Requirements

Training requirements can vary from state to state. Some states may require a food handling or health card be carried by anyone who works in a restaurant or facility which serves food or beverages. Most employers require at least a high school diploma, GED or equivalent, however this requirement may vary depending on location and facility needs. New hires receive on the job training from their employer. Since waitresses and bar tenders interact directly with customers, a good sense of customer service is needed. Experience working with the general public is also helpful.


No formal certifications are needed for waitresses or bartenders, however this can vary from state to state according to local regulations. Some cities may require anyone who works in an environment where food is served to have a current registered health card or alcohol awareness card before beginning work.

Professional Associations

There are no professional associations for waitresses and bar tenders. However, there are many trade shows and conventions for the industry which take place across the country throughout the year. These conventions can showcase new up and coming trends and technologies in the area.

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