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How to Become a Food and Beverage Serving or Related Worker

Most food and beverage service jobs are entry level and do not require a high school diploma. The majority of workers receive short-term on-the-job training.


All new employees receive some training from their employer. They typically learn basic customer service, kitchen safety, and safe food-handling procedures and sanitation.

Some employers, particularly those in fast-food restaurants, teach new workers using self-study programs, online programs, audiovisual presentations, or instructional booklets that explain food preparation and service skills. But most food and beverage serving and related workers pick up their skills by watching and working with more experienced workers.

Some full-service restaurants also provide new dining room employees with classroom training that alternates with periods of on-the-job work experience. These training programs communicate the operating philosophy of the restaurant, help new employees establish a personal rapport with other staff, teach formal serving techniques, and instill a desire to work as a team.


Advancement opportunities are often limited to those who remain on the job for a long period of time. After gaining experience, some dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers may advance into jobs as a waiter, waitress, or bartender.

Important Qualities

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 quickly attend to customers’ requests.

Stamina. Food and beverage serving and related workers must be able to spend much of their work time standing, carrying heavy trays, cleaning work areas, and attending to customers’ needs.

Teamwork. Food serving places can often be fast-paced and hectic during peak dining hours. Food and beverage serving and related workers must be able to work well as a team to ensure that customers feel welcomed and receive prompt service.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition