Food Service Jobs


This employment sector involves all operations surrounding the serving of food and drinks to customers. Other auxiliary duties include welcoming customers into a restaurant, placing orders correctly and quickly and in some cases food preparation. The food service industry includes customers in fast food chains as well as higher end restaurants, bars and cafes.

Though most employees in the food service sector work behind a counter or till, smaller establishments often require them to take part in basic food preparations, hospitality, cleaning, cashing up at the end of the day and dealing effectively with customer complaints. Other possible tasks include taking bookings and coordinating larger functions or catering on the establishment’s behalf, as well as doing stock taking, training new staff members of maintaining safety and hygiene.

Required Skills

  • Friendliness and politeness are key to all service jobs
  • Familiarity with computerized tills and a willingness to learn
  • A good memory, clear focus and the stamina to stand for long periods of time
  • Attention to detail and care when it comes to food standards being upheld
  • Basic numeracy for taking payment, giving change etc.
  • Speed with clearing tables, submitting orders and replenishing spent stock items
  • The ability to multitask

No formal training is necessary for most food service positions, although experience is always a benefit, particularly if it is experience in a similar establishment. Different roles may require different skill sets, for example airport restaurants or bars may have unusual hours, and speciality restaurants may have unique menus and customer needs.

Though food service jobs require no specific education, on the job training is necessary and a commitment is required to learn new skills quickly. Servers need to be outgoing, punctual and respectful, as well as adaptable and able to work well in a team. Uniforms need to be kept to regulation and work shift times need to be honoured.

While salaries for entry level food service positions are rather low, there is scope for promotion to more supervisory and managerial positions that hold more responsibility. Fast food service assistants can advance their position with more experience.

Career Trajectories

Because there is a high turnover in this sector, new jobs frequently open up on a casual or more full time basis. Many larger corporations offer their employees expanded benefits, training and room for promotion. To land a position, a Matric is generally preferred, as is good communication and the commitment to working hard. Some companies offer paid apprenticeships and advertise them on their websites and many will fund further training for promising individuals.

Typically, food service positions are not held for long as workers move onto more permanent or better paying work, or else are promoted into a managerial position or job related to the food industry.

Possible Job Titles

  • Food Service Apprentice
  • Stock Manager
  • Server / Waiter / Waitress
  • Hostess
  • Wine Steward (more specialized service regarding wines only)
  • Barista (in a cafe)
  • Bartender (including mixing cocktails)
  • Dining Room Manager
  • Counter Server
  • Beverage Manager
  • Bus Person
  • Fast Food Assistant (working in fast food drive throughs)
  • Caterer
  • Tuck Shop Lady
  • Food Server in Hotel or Retirement Village

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