Are you considering serving tables? Here’s our breakdown of how to become a server and if it’s even worth it.
As someone who spent most of her hospitality career as a server, I can easily say that being a server is worth it.
Even after all the work nightmares and all the memories of shitty customers that still boil my blood— serving tables taught me invaluable skills.
It shaped me into a more confident and competent version of myself.
It’s hard, honest work, and yes— it’s one of the more lucrative roles within a restaurant. Beyond the obvious, it can also be gratifying.
There’s just something about working with a team to facilitate fun and memorable times for others. It feels good to do good.
While I chose the server life, that doesn’t mean it will be the best option for everyone else.
There are a lot of areas in hospitality someone could get into, and it’s worth taking the time you need to weigh your options.
So while you decide if being a server is ultimately worth it, here are some crucial aspects to remember as you research.
How To Become a Server
Serving isn’t an entry-level position—typically, you work your way up from a busser or server assistant position.
I was a busser for six months before I was promoted to server.
While I was barely surviving off minimum wage and the few tips I did get, bussing did teach me the foundational aspects of working in the front of house (FOH), and I don’t think I could have just jumped into serving without that.
So the first step is to get an entry-level FOH job and have the patience and budgeting skills to work a lower-paying job for a while.
Once you’re in, getting that promotion is up to you. Here’s what worked for me.
1. Demonstrate Reliability
When starting out, demonstrating that you’re reliable is like 80% of the job.
Employers and other teammates count on you to show up on time and ready to give the job your all— so that’s your top priority.
Of course, no one is perfect. Sometimes you might be late or need to take time off. Part of showing reliability is being responsible to keep communication open.
Call your manager when it looks like you’ll be late to give them a heads up and ETA. Stay on top of your schedule and give your boss enough notice before requesting time off.
These things are appreciated and demonstrate you take the job seriously.
2. Listen and Learn From Your Mistakes
We all make mistakes, especially when we’re starting a new job. Just be sure you’re asking questions and learning the correct way of doing things—and absorb that shit.
Restaurant work is fast and hectic. If you continuously make the same errors, you will slow other people down, and it will be noticed quickly.
Trust me, becoming a good listener is not just a soft skill you’ll need to become a great server—you’ll also need it in every other part of your life.
3. Work Hard, Play Later
When you’re on the clock—just keep moving. As a busser or server assistant, you want to be one step ahead of the servers, and the best way to do that is to be active on the floor.
Work in the shadows but keep a running tab on everything. Are the bus tubs filling up, and should you remove and replace them? How are the ice bins? Do the server stations have enough appetizer plates, silverware, or glassware? Are there tables with empty dishes, and do they have their checks?
The more you move around the dining room, the more you’ll be able to anticipate the servers’ needs—which is excellent training for becoming a server yourself.
Participating in the comradery of a restaurant is a unique and amazing experience, but you can bond after the shift. When you’re on the clock, stay focused on your job.
4. Share Your Goals
As long as you’re doing your current job well, there’s nothing wrong with letting your managers and co-workers know you have goals to become a server.
Tell your manager that you’d love to train as a server if the opportunity arises. You can also ask what the manager looks for when promoting workers and how you can improve to get there.
Additionally, if your co-workers know you want to move up, they might be willing to start training you during lulls in business.
Is Being a Server Worth It?
So is being a server worth it? From my personal experience—yes!
If you enjoy working with people and have the patience for it, you can make decent money quickly and learn a lot along the way.
You’ll develop skills that will follow you throughout your life, like empathy, patience, problem-solving, communication, teamwork, working efficiently—and maybe most importantly, how to not let people get the best of you.
Serving is not easy work; like any other job, there are highs and lows. Customers will be rude, managers can suck, and co-workers can be unreliable—but servers are valuable and wanted everywhere, so your employability is high.
If you’re considering becoming a server, go for it! Many restaurants are currently staffing up for the Spring and Summer, so now is a great time to get your foot in the door.