Waiting staff

waiter waitress sommelier server maître d'

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


Five year job forecast


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures.

What's it like?

You would serve customers in a restaurant or cafe and make sure they enjoy their meals. You’d answer their questions and bring them their food and drinks.

As a waiter or waitress, you would:

  • Greet customers and show them to their tables
  • Give out menus and advise on menu choices
  • Take orders for food and drink
  • Serve food and drinks
  • Give customers their bill and take payments
  • Keep tables clean and tidy

You would usually work in a team managed by a head waiter or waitress, known as the maître d’. In some restaurants you would be given your own area of tables to look after.

In formal restaurants your work may include silver service, when you would place the food directly on to a customer’s plate at their table. You would receive special training in the correct way of doing this.

You could also specialise in work as a wine waiter or waitress. In this role you may be known as a 'sommelier' and would use your expert knowledge of wine and other alcoholic drinks to advise customers.

Working conditions


You are likely to work shifts including evenings, weekends and public holidays.


Restaurants and kitchens can be hot, humid, noisy and busy at key meal times. You will need a smart appearance and you would usually be provided with a uniform.

UK employment status





Self employed


People behind the job

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Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Cooperating
  • Supporting
  • Verbal communication
  • Empathising
  • Attention to detail
  • Managing resources
  • Taking responsibility
  • Understanding

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.


There are no formal qualifications required to enter this role but most employers value a good general education.

Experience often counts for more than educational qualifications.

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths
  • Health and food technologies

You will also need

You will need numeracy skills for working out bills.

If you are required to serve alcohol you will need to be at least 18 years old. 



Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show some knowledge of health and hygiene and customer service skills such as Skills for Work Hospitality (SCQF level 4/5). 

Relevant work-based qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Food Service (SVQ level 2) or be willing to work towards qualifications once in a job.