Non-restaurant Food Servers
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Serve food to individuals outside of a restaurant environment, such as in hotel rooms, hospital rooms, residential care facilities, or cars.
Titles for this career often contain these words
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Responsibilities and activities

Food and beverage serving and related workers typically do the following:

  • Greet customers and answer their questions about menu items and specials
  • Take food or drink orders from customers
  • Relay customers’ orders to other kitchen staff
  • Prepare food and drink orders, such as sandwiches, salads, and coffee
  • Accept payments and balance receipts
  • Serve food and drinks to customers at a counter, at a stand, or in a hotel room
  • Clean assigned work areas, dining tables, or serving counters
  • Replenish and stock service stations, cabinets, and tables
  • Set tables or prepare food trays for new customers

Food and beverage serving and related workers are the front line of customer service in restaurants, cafeterias, and other food service establishments. Depending on the establishment, they take customers’ food and drink orders and serve food and beverages.

Most work as part of a team, helping coworkers to improve workflow and customer service. The job titles of food and beverage serving and related workers vary with where they work and what they do.

The following are examples of types of food and beverage serving and related workers:

Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food, are employed primarily by fast-food and fast-casual restaurants. They take food and beverage orders, prepare or retrieve items when ready, fill cups with beverages, and accept customers’ payments. They also heat food items and make salads and sandwiches.

Counter attendants take orders and serve food over a counter in snack bars, cafeterias, movie theaters, and coffee shops. They fill cups with coffee, soda, and other beverages, and may prepare fountain specialties, such as milkshakes and ice cream sundaes. Counter attendants take carryout orders from diners and wrap or place items in containers. They clean counters, prepare itemized bills, and accept customers’ payments.

Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers—sometimes collectively referred to as bus staff—help waiters, waitresses, and bartenders by cleaning and setting tables, removing dirty dishes, and keeping serving areas stocked with supplies. They also may help waiters and waitresses by bringing meals out of the kitchen, distributing dishes to diners, filling water glasses, and delivering condiments. Cafeteria attendants stock serving tables with food trays, dishes, and silverware. They sometimes carry trays to dining tables for customers. Bartender helpers keep bar equipment clean and glasses washed.

Food servers, nonrestaurant, serve food to customers outside of a restaurant environment. Many deliver room service meals in hotels or meals to hospital rooms. Some act as carhops, bringing orders to customers in parked cars.

Hosts and hostesses greet customers and manage reservations and waiting lists. They may direct customers to coatrooms, restrooms, or a waiting area until their table is ready. Hosts and hostesses provide menus after seating guests.

Median salary: $25,910 annually
Half of those employed in this career earn between $22,200 and $30,830.
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for this career compare to other jobs' salaries?
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Salary growth for non-restaurant food servers
Is this job likely to reward you for sticking with it through pay raises and promotions? The higher a job’s “experience quotient,” the more you are likely to get as you stay there.
Experience quotient percentile
Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?
Salary distribution
Number employed
About Non-restaurant Food Servers
How do benefits for this career compare to other jobs? The availability of health care, especially employer provided health care, and pension plans can add significantly to the value of compensation you receive in a career. These charts compare how this career compares to other careers with regard to health care and pension plans.
Employee has health insurance
Employer is providing health insurance
Employer-provided pension plan is available
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of non-restaurant food servers who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Time Pressure (82%)
  • Responsible for Others' Health (67%)
  • Unpleasant or Angry People (64%)
  • High Conflict Frequency (44%)
  • Exposed to Disease or Infections (31%)
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Personality and skills
Can you see yourself in the ranks of Non-restaurant Food Servers? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.
Communication skills
Food and beverage serving and related workers must listen carefully to their customers’ orders and relay them correctly to the kitchen staff so that the orders are prepared to the customers’ request.
Customer-service skills
Food service establishments rely on good food and customer service to keep customers and succeed in a competitive industry. As a result, workers should be courteous and be able to attend to customers’ requests.
Physical stamina
Food and beverage serving and related workers spend most of their work time standing, carrying heavy trays, cleaning work areas, and attending to customers’ needs.
Physical strength
Food and beverage serving and related workers need to be able to lift and carry stock and equipment that can weigh up to 50 pounds.
Injury and Illness
About 122 non-restaurant food servers become injured or ill for every 10,000 workers, making this job more dangerous than 85% of other careers. The most common specific illnesses or injuries are detailed following.
Heat (thermal) burns
Bruises and contusions
All multiple traumatic injuries
Education pathways to this career
Education attained by non-restaurant food servers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), non-restaurant food servers typically hold no formal educational credential.
Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as non-restaurant food servers as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.
Details: Education and training recommended for non-restaurant food servers

There are no formal education requirements for becoming a food and beverage serving worker.

Education level of Non-restaurant Food Servers
Only 9% of non-restaurant food servers have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by non-restaurant food servers
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Where are the jobs
State-by-state employment numbers
Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.
Select a state to see local area details
Number of Non-restaurant Food Servers per 1,000 workers (ACS)
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Job density versus job count
Which states hire the most non-restaurant food servers? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as non-restaurant food servers. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where non-restaurant food servers earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio
We use two methods to compare salaries across states:
  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for non-restaurant food servers compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for non-restaurant food servers.
We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which non-restaurant food servers earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this figure might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
Location-adjusted median salary for Non-restaurant Food Servers (ACS)
50% of Non-restaurant food servers are working part time.
We’ve found that some jobs have a huge number of part-time workers, and typically that is because they are unable to find full-time work or the job itself can’t provide full-time hours. With 50% part-time workers, this occupation has a higher percentage of part-time workers than 94% of careers.
Employer types
This donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire for this career.
Employers of undefined (ACS)
Private for-profit
Private not-for-profit
Local government
State government
Federal government
Self-employed incorporated
Self-employed not incorporated
Working without pay
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Distribution: Salaries of non-restaurant food servers by type of employer
Here are the salary distributions based on employer type.
$24K$25K$24K$27K$22K$23K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Non-restaurant food servers and gender
With 63% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 75% of careers.
Gender of Non-restaurant food servers
Men (37%)
Women (63%)
Distribution: salaries by gender
Does gender greatly influence your salary in this career? The closer the bars are, the less discrepancy there is.
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.
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Context: Women in the workforce
How does this career compare to other careers with regard to the percentage of women in the career.
Context: Salary inequity
The median (middle) salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%, and the difference for non-restaurant food servers tops that, with the median salary for men 22% higher than the median salary for women.
Race and origin of Non-restaurant food servers
This donut shows the distribution of race and origin among those employed as Non-restaurant food servers.
Race/origin of non-restaurant food servers
White (53% )
Black (26% )
Other (9% )
Asian (7% )
Multiracial (3% )
Hispanic (1% )
American Indian (1% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Distribution: salaries by race/origin
Some careers might have a pay disparity based on race or origin, the closer the below bars are the less of a discrepancy is present.
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.