Fast Food and Counter Workers
Perform duties such as taking orders and serving food and beverages. Serve customers at counter or from a steam table. May take payment. May prepare food and beverages.
Sample of reported job titles: Cafe Server, Cafeteria Server, Cafeteria Worker, Deli Worker (Delicatessen Worker), Food Server, Food Service Assistant, Food Service Worker, Prep Cook (Preparation Cook), School Cafeteria Cook, Server
Also see: Baristas
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Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Communicate with customers regarding orders, comments, and complaints.
- Accept payment from customers, and make change as necessary.
- Scrub and polish counters, steam tables, and other equipment, and clean glasses, dishes, and fountain equipment.
- Perform cleaning duties such as sweeping, mopping, and washing dishes, to keep equipment and facilities sanitary.
- Balance receipts and payments in cash registers.
- Request and record customer orders, and compute bills using cash registers, multi counting machines, or pencil and paper.
- Serve food, beverages, or desserts to customers in such settings as take-out counters of restaurants or lunchrooms, business or industrial establishments, hotel rooms, and cars.
- Prepare daily food items, and cook simple foods and beverages, such as sandwiches, salads, soups, pizza, or coffee, using proper safety precautions and sanitary measures.
- Clean and organize eating, service, and kitchen areas.
- Monitor and order supplies or food items and restock as necessary to maintain inventory.
- Brew coffee and tea, and fill containers with requested beverages.
- Serve customers in eating places that specialize in fast service and inexpensive carry-out food.
- Collect and return dirty dishes to the kitchen for washing.
- Wash dishes, glassware, and silverware after meals.
- Wrap menu item such as sandwiches, hot entrees, and desserts for serving or for takeout.
- Notify kitchen personnel of shortages or special orders.
- Prepare and serve cold drinks, or frozen milk drinks or desserts, using drink-dispensing, milkshake, or frozen custard machines.
- Select food items from serving or storage areas and place them in dishes, on serving trays, or in take-out bags.
- Replenish foods at serving stations.
- Perform personnel activities such as supervising and training employees.
- Take customers’ orders and write ordered items on tickets, giving ticket stubs to customers when needed to identify filled orders.
- Distribute food to servers.
- Set up dining areas for meals and clear them following meals.
- Add relishes and garnishes to food orders, according to instructions.
- Deliver orders to kitchens, and pick up and serve food when it is ready.
- Arrange tables and decorations according to instructions.
- Plan, prepare, and deliver meals to individuals with special dietary needs.
Find occupations related to multiple tasks
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- Computer based training software — Quizlet
- Data base user interface and query software — Data entry software; Menu and nutrition database software
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office
- Operating system software — Microsoft Windows
- Point of sale POS software — Aldelo Systems Aldelo for Restaurants Pro; Foodman Home-Delivery; Intuit QuickBooks Point of Sale; Plexis Software Plexis POS (see all 10 examples)
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Web page creation and editing software — Facebook
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
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- 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.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- 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.
- Sales and Marketing — Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
- 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.
- Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Production and Processing — Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
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- 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.
- Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
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- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
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- 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.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
- Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
- Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
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Detailed Work Activities
- Clean food preparation areas, facilities, or equipment.
- Clean tableware.
- Process customer bills or payments.
- Communicate with customers to resolve complaints or ensure satisfaction.
- Take customer orders.
- Balance receipts.
- Operate cash registers.
- Serve food or beverages.
- Clean food service areas.
- Cook foods.
- Order materials, supplies, or equipment.
- Prepare hot or cold beverages.
- Collect dirty dishes or other tableware.
- Arrange tables or dining areas.
- Add garnishes to food.
- Move equipment, supplies or food to required locations.
- Package food or supplies.
- Communicate dining or order details to kitchen personnel.
- Arrange food for serving.
- Stock serving stations or dining areas with food or supplies.
- Deliver items.
- Manage preparation of special meals or diets.
- Prepare foods or meals.
- Train food preparation or food service personnel.
- Schedule dining reservations.
Find occupations related to multiple detailed work activities
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- Spend Time Standing — How much does this job require standing?
- Contact With Others — How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
- Face-to-Face Discussions — How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
- Work With Work Group or Team — How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
- Deal With External Customers — How important is it to work with external customers or the public in this job?
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
- Spend Time Walking and Running — How much does this job require walking and running?
- Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — How much does this job require making repetitive motions?
- Physical Proximity — To what extent does this job require the worker to perform job tasks in close physical proximity to other people?
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — How much does this job require using your hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools or controls?
- Frequency of Decision Making — How frequently is the worker required to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the image and reputation of the organization?
- Responsible for Others’ Health and Safety — How much responsibility is there for the health and safety of others in this job?
- Coordinate or Lead Others — How important is it to coordinate or lead others in accomplishing work activities in this job?
- Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — How frequently does the worker have to deal with unpleasant, angry, or discourteous individuals as part of the job requirements?
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the image or reputation or financial resources of your employer?
- Time Pressure — How often does this job require the worker to meet strict deadlines?
- Freedom to Make Decisions — How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — How responsible is the worker for work outcomes and results of other workers?
- Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — How often does this job require working exposed to sounds and noise levels that are distracting or uncomfortable?
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — How important is repeating the same physical activities (e.g., key entry) or mental activities (e.g., checking entries in a ledger) over and over, without stopping, to performing this job?
- Telephone — How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — How much does this job require wearing common protective or safety equipment such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hard hats or life jackets?
- Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings — How often does this job require exposure to minor burns, cuts, bites, or stings?
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|Title||Job Zone One: Little or No Preparation Needed|
|Education||Some of these occupations may require a high school diploma or GED certificate.|
|Related Experience||Little or no previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, a person can become a waiter or waitress even if he/she has never worked before.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few days to a few months of training. Usually, an experienced worker could show you how to do the job.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations involve following instructions and helping others. Examples include food preparation workers, dishwashers, sewing machine operators, landscaping and groundskeeping workers, logging equipment operators, and baristas.|
|SVP Range||(Below 4.0)|
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Interest code: RCS Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- Realistic — 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.
- Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
- Social — Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
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- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- 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.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Independence — Job requires developing one’s own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
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- 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. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
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Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2020)||$11.47 hourly, $23,860 annual|
|Employment (2020)||3,455,500 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Much faster than average (15% or higher)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||804,600|
|Top industries (2020)||
Accommodation and Food Services
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
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Job Openings on the Web
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Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education
- National Restaurant Association
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Food and beverage serving and related workers
- School Nutrition Association
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