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How Do I Become a Waiter?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 October 2016
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To become a waiter you will typically need to be hired by a restaurant and trained on the job. Typically, to become a waiter in a high-end restaurant, you will be required to have significant experience as a waiter in less expensive or less formal restaurants. In some cases, a restaurant will want you to work in a supportive role, perhaps by bussing tables or working as a food runner before permitting you to wait on tables.

There are no formal training programs or educational requirements to become a waiter, although waiters generally must be fluent in the language spoken by their customers so that they can take orders and be of assistance. Many people enter into the profession with no experience, though they may be required to start work as a waiter in inexpensive “diners” and cafes. In some restaurants that do a high volume of business, waiters may be assisted by food runners who actually bring food to tables after the waiter has taken the order and sent it back to the kitchen. If you get a job in one of these restaurants, you may be required to start out as a food runner or as a busser prior to being able to work as a waiter.

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Some chain restaurants may have a formal training program that you must complete in order to become a waiter. This training program may include online or video training along with the requirement that you read an employee manual. You may also be required to follow an experienced waiter for several days while learning the organization's procedures and how to appropriately interact with customers. Once you actually become a waiter in the restaurant, you may be assigned to work the less-busy shifts, which may not be as financially lucrative as the times at which business is at its peak, but will enable you gain experience in the restaurant.

In more exclusive restaurants, you will be expected to have experience in food service, along with significant food knowledge, before you begin work as a waiter. Managers and owners of these restaurants typically rely on their waiters and waitresses to sell their food to customers. You may also be required to demonstrate a knowledge of wine and cocktails as these can be a major source of revenue in a restaurant. While you can learn about wine on the job, you may find that taking a wine appreciation class can help further your career as a waiter.

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