Who Food Service Workers Are

What Do Food Service Workers Do?

Food service workers can be found at restaurants, fast food outlets, or any other area of the service industry where food is provided to guests. Their responsibilities include more than just taking orders and serving.

Because customer service is an important part of a food service job, ideal employees will have a good disposition for handling customers even when they're difficult. Formal education usually isn't required for food service work, although on-the-job training should be expected.

The job may require operating food preparation equipment like fryers, stoves, mixers, or choppers. These jobs may also require employees to lift weighted objects, work in different temperature settings, stand for extended periods, or perform repetitive motions. Food service workers are also responsible for food preparation, handling customer payments, clean up the dining room and the kitchen, inventory management, and stocking food items from deliveries.

Here are a few more examples of the typical responsibilities and attributes that food service workers will run across in their roles.

  • Preventative maintenance for equipment.
  • Facility repairs and installations, assembling and installing food service equipment components.
  • Have a hard-working attitude.
  • Maintain HVAC systems such as walk-in coolers and freezers to ensure proper food temperature.
  • Prepare and serve food trays.
  • General cleaning
  • Participate in HACCP training to understand how the components of the HACCP system are used during job tasks.
  • Prepare food to order.
  • Work in main kitchen washing dishes and ensuring proper food storage.
  • Prepare for annual governmental and secular health certifications.
Job duties and responsibilities for food service workers can often depend on the type of food service industry they are in. The level of their job will also be a factor. For example, senior food service workers will have more food service management responsibilities than those who just started at the establishment.

What are the Benefits of Being a Food Service Worker?

It's difficult being a food service worker. Restaurants and other sectors of the food industry hire service workers to fill both full time and part time positions.

In 2011, more than 2 million servers, 1 million cooks and 700,000 supervisors were employed in the United Statesfood service industry according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The income of restaurant workers will vary depending on the specific position. On average, a food service worker has an annual salary of $22,006. Top-earning food service workers make $12,000 more than that. The following breaks down income wages according to position.


A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2011 showed that servers earned an average annual income of $20,890. The report also showed servers within the top 10 percent earned almost $30,000 per year. Those servers on the lower end of the spectrum they earned less than $16,070. 50 percent of servers had annual incomes between $17,160 and $22,070.


Bureau of Labor Statistics statistics showed restaurant cooks averaging $23,410 per year in 2011. Fast food cooks earned an average $18,720 per year. Restaurant cooks in the top 10 earned more than $32,160. The bottom 10 earned less than $17,000. Fast food cooks ranked differently with their cooks earning $23,140 annually for the top 10 percent with the bottom 10 obtaining $16,090 per year.

Chefs and Head Cooks

Head cooks and chefs manage other cooks and handle any food-related problems that arise at restaurants. The BLS reports the income of chefs and head cooks at $46,600 in 2011. Those in the top 10 percent of the pay scale earned more than $74,060 a year, while those in the bottom 10 percent earned less than $24,770. Fifty percent of chefs and head cooks earned between $31,600 and $56,940.

Supervisors and Managers

Restaurant supervisors are in charge of servers and food preparation workers. Food service managers take care of the overall operations of the business. Supervisors who oversee the job duties of servers or food preparation workers earned on average $32,020. The top 10 percent earned almost $50,000 per year with the lower end receiving less than $19,780. Food service managers, on the other hand, made $52,620 according to a 2011 report. Their top tier earned more than $81,410 a year, with the bottom 10 percent earning less than $30,570.

Conclusion to Food Service Workers

  • According to a 2011 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics the food service industry saw 2 million servers, 1 million cooks and 700,000 supervisors employed throughout the United States.
  • The average food service worker salary is $22,000 annually with some earning up to $28,000 per year.
  • Food service workers have many job responsibilities other than just taking orders. They can be employed at restaurants, fast food outlets, or any other area of the food service industry where food is provided to guests.

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