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Career profile Food Server

Also known as Food Server, Food Service Worker, Kitchen Runner, Room Server, Room Service Server, Tray Server

Food Server

Also known as Food Server, Food Service Worker, Kitchen Runner

Interests Profile
  • Social
  • Realistic
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$19,350 - $37,910 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Active Listening
  • Speaking
  • Service Orientation
Knowledge Areas
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Food Production
  • Administration and Management
Core tasks
  • Place food servings on plates or trays according to orders or instructions.
  • Clean or sterilize dishes, kitchen utensils, equipment, or facilities.
  • Monitor food distribution, ensuring that meals are delivered to the correct recipients and that guidelines, such as those for special diets, are followed.
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What does a Food Server do?

Food Servers serve food to individuals outside of a restaurant environment, such as in hotel rooms, hospital rooms, residential care facilities, or cars.

What kind of tasks does a Food Server perform regularly?

Food Servers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Place food servings on plates or trays according to orders or instructions.
  • Clean or sterilize dishes, kitchen utensils, equipment, or facilities.
  • Monitor food distribution, ensuring that meals are delivered to the correct recipients and that guidelines, such as those for special diets, are followed.
  • Examine trays to ensure that they contain required items.
  • Load trays with accessories, such as eating utensils, napkins, or condiments.
  • Take food orders and relay orders to kitchens or serving counters so they can be filled.
  • Monitor food preparation or serving techniques to ensure that proper procedures are followed.
  • Remove trays and stack dishes for return to kitchen after meals are finished.
  • Carry food, silverware, or linen on trays or use carts to carry trays.
  • Record amounts and types of special food items served to customers.
  • Stock service stations with items, such as ice, napkins, or straws.
  • Prepare food items, such as sandwiches, salads, soups, or beverages.
  • Determine where patients or patrons would like to eat their meals and help them get situated.

The above responsibilities are specific to Food Servers. More generally, Food Servers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Performing General Physical Activities
Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

What is a Food Server salary?

The median salary for a Food Server is $25,910, and the average salary is $27,460. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Food Server salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Food Servers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Food Servers earn less than $19,350 per year, 25% earn less than $22,200, 75% earn less than $30,830, and 90% earn less than $37,910.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Food Servers is expected to change by 13.8%, and there should be roughly 45,700 open positions for Food Servers every year.

Median annual salary
$25,910
Typical salary range
$19,350 - $37,910
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
13.8%

What personality traits are common among Food Servers?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Food Server are usually higher in their Social, Realistic, and Enterprising interests.

Food Servers typically have very strong Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Also, Food Servers typically have moderate Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Lastly, Food Servers typically have moderate Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Food Server tend to value Relationships, Support, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Food Servers moderately value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Food Servers moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Lastly, Food Servers somewhat value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Food Servers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as self-control, stress tolerance, and attention to detail.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Food Servers, ranked by importance:

Self-Control
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.

What education and training do Food Servers need?

Working as a Food Server usually requires a high school diploma.

Food Servers need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Food Servers

  • 14.9% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 41.9% completed high school or secondary school
  • 23.7% completed some college coursework
  • 7.7% earned a Associate's degree
  • 9.9% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 1.7% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.1% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Food Servers

Food Servers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as customer and personal service, food production, or administration and management knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Food Servers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Food Production
Knowledge of techniques and equipment for planting, growing, and harvesting food products (both plant and animal) for consumption, including storage/handling techniques.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.

Important Abilities needed by Food Servers

Food Servers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Food Servers need abilities such as oral comprehension, oral expression, and near vision in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Food Servers, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Selective Attention
The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
Speech Recognition
The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.

Critical Skills needed by Food Servers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Food Servers frequently use skills like active listening, speaking, and service orientation to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Food Servers, ranked by their relative importance.

Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Service Orientation
Actively looking for ways to help people.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.