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More than food and drink: Careers in restaurants

Are you considering a restaurant career? If you can keep cool when things heat up, you have many occupational options. One of them could be your meal ticket.

In restaurants, the food’s the thing. But the drinks, presentation, service, and ambience are important, too. And it’s up to restaurant workers to provide diners with a square meal that’s well rounded.

The hard work of the kitchen, bar, and dining-room staff gets food and drink from menu to mouth. Some of the more visible workers may include waiters and waitresses (also known as servers), busboys, hosts and hostesses, bartenders, and sommeliers. Less visible restaurant staff includes chefs, cooks, managers, dishwashers, and janitorial and office staff. All have a role in helping to make a diner’s experience pleasant.

This article begins with an overview of the restaurant industry. It then looks at four occupations—cooks, executive chefs, servers, and bartenders—and describes their job duties; employment, wages, and outlook; and skills and training. You’ll learn what working in a restaurant is like, including its challenges and rewards. Suggested resources for additional information on restaurant careers are at the end.

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U.S. Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor Statistics

Last Updated: June 10, 2009