what is a food service worker?

Food service summarises all activities from food preparation to serving the meals to customers. As a food service worker, you are responsible for how meals are prepared in your setting, whether it's a cafe or a food court. Your duties include taking orders and preparing and serving the food to customers.

Your responsibilities change depending on your working environment. For instance, working in a cafe-style restaurant involves serving the general public while, in schools, your customers are students. Some food service workers also serve food in hospitals, delivering the food items to various wards.

The job involves preparing different kinds of food, including salads, beverages and hot and cold foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You also perform cashiering services and provide customers with relevant product information. That means you greet customers as they enter the restaurant and answer any questions about the menu items.

As a food service worker, you work in a fast-paced environment requiring multitasking skills and excellent customer service abilities to keep the customers happy. Attentiveness to detail is also crucial in food preparation since it ensures the food items are prepared according to the recommended recipes and meet the desired health and safety standards.

Would working as a food service worker suit your customer service skills and multitasking abilities? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a food service worker role.

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average food service worker salary

According to ONS, a food service worker receives an average salary of £26,520 per year or £13.60 per hour. On the lower scale, entry-level food service workers take a compensation package of £21,158 annually. However, experienced workers earn more than £36,000 annually, depending on their skill and experience level. The duties you perform as a food service worker affects your earnings. For instance, if you are a barista serving coffee in cafes and coffee shops, your salary ranges from £12,500 to £20,000 per year, while a food service manager could take home between £18,000 and £30,000 per year.

How to increase your salary as a food service worker

The compensation package of food service workers depends on their experience and qualifications. While most food service jobs don't require formal qualifications, a post-secondary course improves your salary prospects. Besides, it improves your skills and helps you specialise in a particular area. For instance, you could focus on food preparation and cooking tasks to earn an additional salary as a cook or chef. Waiters with extensive knowledge of coffee preparation techniques can become baristas. Your experience level also influences your earnings. You have minimal knowledge of the role at entry-level positions, but as you improve your experience, you gain expertise and perform complex tasks.

womale pouring juice in a glass
womale pouring juice in a glass

types of food service workers

Some of the common types of food service workers include:

  • hospital food service workers: as a hospital food service worker, you prepare meals and serve them to patients, employees and visitors. You also clean kitchen equipment and dishes after meals. You stock the food supplies in hospitals and ensure patients eat healthy food.
  • hosts or hostesses: these food service workers welcome guests and manage the reservation desks at the front of the restaurant. Your job is to greet guests, lead them to their tables and provide menus.
  • waiters or waitresses: you assign tables to guests and hand out menus. However, your primary role is to take customers' orders to the kitchen and serve food and drinks. You serve the meals to guests and clean their tables when they leave.

working as a food service worker

As a food service worker, you assist in preparing meals and serving them to customers. Below are more responsibilities and the types of places you are likely to work:


education and skills

Food service workers don't require formal education, but some pursue the following post-secondary courses to improve their career prospects:

  • college course: completing a college course equips you with the necessary skills for performing your duties. You can pursue a Level 1 Award in professional food and beverage service skills or a Level 2 Certificate in the same course. For further training and career development, complete a Level 2 Diploma in food and beverage service.
  • apprenticeship: some food service workers train through a hospitality team member intermediate apprenticeship. The programme takes a year and covers on-the-job training and coursework.

food service worker skills and competencies

Some of the qualities of a food service worker include:

  • communication skills: as a food service worker, you require good communication skills to answer customers' questions and build a rapport with them. You should also explain the dishes to customers as you serve them.
  • attention to detail: food preparation and serving require attentiveness to ensure adherence to the strict health and safety guidelines. It is vital to clean the work surfaces thoroughly to avoid contamination.
  • customer service skills: as a food service worker, you interact with various people, from guests to customers and other staff. It is important to provide excellent service to all customers.
smiling female surrounded by fruits and vegetable in the kitchen
smiling female surrounded by fruits and vegetable in the kitchen


FAQs about working as a food service worker

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