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Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop
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Description: what do they do?
Serve food to diners at counter or from a steam table.
Also known as:
Sandwich Artist, Server, Snack Bar Attendant, Cafeteria Worker, Line Server, Cafeteria Server, Food Service Worker, Cafe Server, Food Service Assistant, Food Server

    What does this information tell me?

    This description is a quick overview of what workers in this career might do.

    "Also known as" shows other common names for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from an O*NET database. Learn more on the Help page.

Career video
    Transcript: Food service workers perform customer service, food preparation, and cleaning duties… in food service establishments from fast food restaurants to hospitals and hotels. Counter attendants and baristas take orders, process payments, and serve food at fast food restaurants, snack bars, cafeterias, movie theaters, and coffee shops. They heat simple food items and assemble salads or sandwiches. Counter attendants also fill beverage orders and may prepare specialties, such as milkshakes and ice cream sundaes. Dining room and cafeteria attendants, also called bussers, clean and set tables, remove dirty dishes, and keep serving areas stocked with trays, dishes, and silverware. They may also fill water glasses and distribute dishes to diners. Bartender helpers clean bar equipment and glasses. These workers spend most of the time on their feet and often carry heavy trays. During busy dining periods, they are under pressure to serve customers quickly and efficiently. Minor injuries such as slips and burns are common. To reduce risks, workers often wear gloves, aprons, or nonslip shoes. Part-time work, seasonal work, and early morning or late evening hours are common… especially for fast food workers. Workers serving alcohol generally must be 18 years of age or older. Most food and beverage service workers receive short-term, on-the-job training. There are no formal educational requirements.
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Outlook: will there be jobs?
Image. Employment outlook for this occupation
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.

This occupation is:
  • Projected to have a large number of job openings


    What does this information tell me?

    Outlook information can tell you whether a career is expected to be in demand in the future—that is, whether there are likely to be job openings if you choose this career. Careers can have one of three outlooks:

    • A Bright outlook means new job opportunities are very likely in the future
    • An Average outlook means that a small number of new job opportunities are likely in the future (less than an 8 percent increase)
    • A Below Average outlook means new job opportunities are less likely in the future

    You can also view local job listings in this field by clicking "Find job openings" above. This can help you see if local businesses are hiring—another way of looking at demand.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET Bright Outlook occupations, 2019. Note this information is only available at a national level, so even if you selected a state, you’ll only see this information for the whole country.

Projected employment
United States
480,200
2018 Employment
496,300
2028 Employment
3%
Percent change
107,600
Annual projected job openings

    What does this information tell me?

    Projected employment shows how much employment is expected to grow in this occupation over a 10-year period. This can help you decide if this career is a good choice for future job opportunities. You can look at projected employment in your state, or in other states where you might consider living.

    You can see the total number of people employed in this occupation in 2016 (for states) or 2018 (for the United States), the number expected to be employed in 2026 (for states) or 2028 (for the United States), and rate of growth over those years.

    The projections are based on assumptions of unemployment rates and labor productivity growth rates.  While the projected numbers may not be exact, they are helpful to compare one career to another, or one location to another.

    What is the source of this information?

    State-level data come from Projections Central and each state's Labor Market Information office, 2016-26.

    National-level data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, 2018-28.

Typical wages

Annual wages for Fast Food and Counter Workers* in United States
This graph displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
* You’re seeing wages for Fast Food and Counter Workers because we don’t have information for Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop.
This chart displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
LocationUnited States
10%$17,580
25%$19,210
Median$22,740
75%$25,780
90%$30,410


    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you a range of how much most workers in this occupation earn per hour, in the location that you selected.

    You can select from three views of this data:

    • The Graph shows you wages at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. Note that the lowest (10th %ile) wage shown is not necessarily a "starting wage." Instead it means that 10 percent of all workers in this career earn less that this amount, and 90 percent earn more. However, you can assume that you might earn close to the 10th or 25th %ile wages when you start out in most careers.
    • Select "Chart" to see a visual comparison between national wages and wages in the location you selected.
    • Select "Table" to see more wage data the national and local level.

    Please note that wage data are not available at the city or ZIP code level. If you selected a city or ZIP code, you will see wage data for the regional area.

    You can learn more about wages for this and other occupations by clicking “See more wages” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    The wage information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics Program, May 2019 survey. For more detailed state wage data, please find the link to your state's wage data program in the Other Resources box.

Typical education
How much education do most people in this career have?
Chart. Percent of workers in this field by education level attained

    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you the range of education levels that people who currently work in this field have. You can use this to see if you fit in this range. Note that this includes ALL people who work in this field and not just those getting started.

    Interested in getting qualified for this career? You can search for programs that lead to the education needed, in your local area, by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Educational attainment for workers 25 years and older by detailed occupation, 2016–17.

Certifications: show your skills
Let employers know you have the skills to do well at this job.
Earning a certification can help you:
  • Get a job
  • Get a promotion

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find certifications" you'll see a list of national certifications that are related to this career. From there, you can learn how to achieve one of these certifications to help you enter or get ahead in this field.

    What is the source of this information?

    This collection of occupational certifications is collected and regularly updated by CareerOneStop. Learn more at Certification Finder Help.

Licenses: do you need one?
Some states require an occupational license to work in this career.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find license details in your state" you'll see the license name and contact information for the agency in your state that oversees licensing for this field. If you have not selected a location, you'll see a list of all state licenses for this occupation.

    What is the source of this information?

    Information on licensed occupations is gathered in each state by Labor Market Information units under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Learn more at License Finder Help.

Apprenticeships: learn on the job
Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job-training with classroom lessons.

Activities: what you might do in a day
  • Clean food preparation areas, facilities, or equipment.
  • Operate cash registers.
  • Clean tableware.
  • Process customer bills or payments.
  • Take customer orders.
  • Balance receipts.
  • Serve food or beverages.
  • Cook foods.
  • Prepare hot or cold beverages.
  • Arrange tables or dining areas.
  • Collect dirty dishes or other tableware.
  • Cut cooked or raw foods.
  • Add garnishes to food.
  • Order materials, supplies, or equipment.
  • Package food or supplies.
  • Communicate dining or order details to kitchen personnel.
  • Stock serving stations or dining areas with food or supplies.
  • Schedule dining reservations.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical work activities that people in this career might do on the job. You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More activities” to see more detailed examples of activities for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these activities to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET’s Detailed Work Activities.

Knowledge
People in this career often know a lot about:
  • 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.
  • 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.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of general knowledge areas that are most commonly required for jobs in the career. Knowledge is typically gained through education and related experience.

    This list can help you learn if you are prepared for a job in this career. It can also help you decide on education or training programs that could help you prepare for the career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Knowledge descriptors.

Skills
People in this career often have these skills:
  • Active Listening - Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list the work-related skills most commonly required for jobs in the career.

    This list can help you understand how well your current skills fit this career. It can also help you plan your education or professional development.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Skills descriptors.

Abilities
People in this career often have talent in:
  • Oral Comprehension - Listening and understanding what people say.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list of personal qualities that might influence work and are most commonly required for success in this career.

    This list can help you understand if your natural strengths and abilities are a good fit for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Abilities descriptors.

Interests
  • Enterprising - Occupations with Enterprising interests frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. Many involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
  • Social - Occupations with Social interests frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. Most involve helping or providing service to others.
  • Realistic - Occupations with Realistic interests frequently involve practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of work environment-preferences that are most commonly associated with the career. It can help you understand if your natural interests are a good fit for this career.

    Click "Take an interest assessment" for a quick 30-question assessment that can help you understand your interests and see careers that might be good matches for them.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Interest descriptors.

Typical tasks
  • Scrub and polish counters, steam tables, and other equipment, and clean glasses, dishes, and fountain equipment.
  • Prepare bills for food, using cash registers, calculators, or adding machines, and accept payment or make change.
  • Take customers' orders and write ordered items on tickets, giving ticket stubs to customers when needed to identify filled orders.
  • Perform cleaning duties such as sweeping, mopping, and washing dishes, to keep equipment and facilities sanitary.
  • Balance receipts and payments in cash registers.
  • 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.
  • Cook food or prepare food items, such as sandwiches, salads, and ice cream dishes, using standard formulas or following directions.
  • Serve salads, vegetables, meat, breads, and cocktails, ladle soups and sauces, portion desserts, and fill beverage cups and glasses.
  • Brew coffee and tea, and fill containers with requested beverages.
  • Set up dining areas for meals and clear them following meals.
  • Carve meat.
  • Add relishes and garnishes to food orders, according to instructions.
  • Order items needed to replenish supplies.
  • Wrap menu item such as sandwiches, hot entrees, and desserts for serving or for takeout.
  • Deliver orders to kitchens, and pick up and serve food when it is ready.
  • Replenish foods at serving stations.
  • Arrange reservations for patrons of dining establishments.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical tasks that people in this career might do on the job.  You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More tasks” to see more detailed examples for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these tasks to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET‘s Tasks.

    What does this information tell me?

    These are additional online resources related to this career. You may find different or more detailed information at these sources.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information is collected and maintained by CareerOneStop.