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THE JOB WAITERS and WAITRESSES work in a lot of other places besides restaurants. You could work in hotel or motel dining rooms, coffee shops, diners, or other places where food and drinks are served. To be a Waiter or Waitress you have to be able to think fast and have a good memory and be good at arithmetic. That's because in a lot of places the customers want their food right away, and you have to be able to remember their orders and write them down on the check correctly. You have to add up the items on the check without making a mistake and be able to figure out the tax. In fancier places the customers are not in so much of a rush, but that also means they expect extra courtesy and better service. So, in these places you can relax a bit more, but you have to pay more attention to the customers. They might want you to explain what goes into their meal and how it is cooked. You might recommend what wine they'd like to drink or you might prepare simple items like salads at the table. Some smaller restaurants might have you doing things other types of workers are usually expected to do, like showing customers to their tables, or cleaning and setting up tables, or refilling salt and pepper shakers and making sure the mustard and ketchup bottles are full. WORKING CONDITIONS Working conditions are generally nice. You work in clean, comfortable places, but there can be a lot of stress because you often have to work very fast under pressure during busy hours. Waiters and Waitresses have to do a lot of bending, carrying, lifting, reaching, standing, and stretching. The job has some dangers. It's possible to get burned by hot liquids or slip on food on the floor or to get hit by swinging doors. EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK The California Projections of Employment, published by the Labor Market Information Division of the Employment Development Department, estimates that the number of Waiters and Waitresses in California will reach 323,240 by 2005, an increase in new jobs of 109,830 over the number there was in 1993. There will also be an estimated 140,670 job openings due to people retiring or leaving the occupation. Added to the 109,830 new jobs expected, this makes for an estimated total of 150,500 job opportunities through 2005. (These figures do not include self-employment nor openings due to turnover.) Over the next ten years, there will be more job opportunities for Waiters and Waitresses than for any other kind of job in California. WAGES, HOURS, AND FRINGE BENEFITS Although some very few are paid as much as $12.25 per hour, Waiters and Waitresses are usually paid minimum wage, plus tips. The amount of money you earn depends on the type of restaurant where you work. The bigger the restaurant the more tips you get; the more expensive the restaurant the bigger the tips you get. Waiters and Waitresses generally work a 40-hour, five-day workweek. The employer usually provides one or two free meals per shift, depending on the length of the shift. Some employers provide life insurance and health and dental insurance. These benefits often are tied to and dependent upon the number of hours worked per week. In some work places, uniforms are provided for Waiters and Waitresses and sometimes the employer takes responsibility for uniform laundering. Some Waiters and Waitresses in California belong to the Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union (AFL-CIO). ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS AND TRAINING Waiters and Waitresses in restaurants that serve liquor must be at least 21 years old to serve alcohol. In some counties you have to pass a Food Handler course, which costs between $12.00 to $15.00, before being hired. Contact your county health department for a list of authorized schools that give the course. In some Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc., restaurants knowing how to speak the language is a plus and sometimes necessary. ADVANCEMENT A few Waiters and Waitresses advance to supervisory jobs, like Head Waiter, Dining Room Supervisor, or Restaurant Manager. FINDING THE JOB If you're interested in getting work as a Waiter or Waitress, you should contact employers directly or file an application with the California Employment Development Department. You should also contact the local unions or read the newspaper want ads. ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION The National Restaurant Association 150 Michigan Ave., Suite 2000 Chicago, IL 60601 (312) 853-2525 American Hotel and Motel Association 1201 New York Ave., NW Suite 600 Washington, DC 20005-3931 (202) 289-3100 RELATED OCCUPATIONAL GUIDES Bartenders No. 498 OCCUPATIONAL CODE REFERENCES DOT (Dictionary of Occupational Titles, 4th ed., Rev. 1) Waiter/Waitress, Formal 311.477-026 Waiter/Waitress, Informal 311.477-030 OES (Occupational Employment Statistics) System Waiter/Waitress 650080 Source: State of California, Employment Development Department, Labor Market Information Division, Information Services Group, (916) 262-2162.Note: This is NOT a job opening. The purpose of This California Occupational Guide is to provide you with useful information to help you make career decisions. If you are searching for a job, go to:
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