Average employment growth is expected, and job opportunities should be excellent for food and beverage serving and related workers as turnover is generally very high among these workers, but job competition is often keen for jobs at upscale restaurants.
Overall employment of these workers is expected to increase by 10 percent over the 2008-18 decade, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. Food and beverage serving and related workers are projected to have one of the largest numbers of new jobs arise, about 761,000, over this period. The growth in jobs is expected to increase as the population continues to expand. However, employment will grow more slowly than in the past as people change their dining habits. The growing popularity of take-out food and the growing number and variety of places that offer carryout options, including at many full-service restaurants, will slow the growth of waiters and waitresses and other serving workers.
Projected employment growth will vary by job type. Employment of combined food preparation and serving workers, which includes fast-food workers, is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations. The limited service segment of the food services and drinking places industry has a low price advantage, fast service, and has been adding healthier foods. Slower than average employment growth is expected for waiters and waitresses, hosts and hostesses, and dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers, as more people use take-out service. Employment of bartenders, dishwashers, and counter attendants, cafeteria, food concession, and coffee shop will grow about as fast as average. Nonrestaurant servers, such as those who deliver food trays in hotels, hospitals, residential care facilities, or catered events, are expected to have average employment growth.
Job opportunities at most eating and drinking places will be excellent because many people in these occupations change jobs frequently, which creates a large number of openings. Keen competition is expected, however, for jobs in popular restaurants and fine dining establishments, where potential earnings from tips are greatest.
Food and beverage serving and related workers held 7.7 million jobs in 2008. The distribution of jobs among the various food and beverage serving occupations was as follows:
|Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food
|Waiters and waitresses
|Counter attendants, cafeteria, food concession, and coffee shop
|Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers
|Hosts and hostesses, restaurant, lounge, and coffee shop
|Food servers, nonrestaurant
|All other food preparation and serving related workers
The overwhelming majority of jobs for food and beverage serving and related workers were found in food services and drinking places, such as restaurants, fast food outlets, bars, and catering or contract food service operations. Other jobs were in hotels, motels, and other traveler accommodation establishments; amusement, gambling, and recreation establishments; educational services; nursing care facilities; and civic and social organizations.
Jobs are located throughout the country but are more plentiful in larger cities and tourist areas. Vacation resorts offer seasonal employment.
Job Zone 1 - Little or no preparation needed
No previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience
is needed. For example, you can become a general office
clerk even if you haven't worked in an office.
These occupations may require a high school diploma or GED
certificate. Some may require a formal training course to
obtain a license.
Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few days
to a few months of training. Usually, an experienced worker
could show you how to do the job.
Bus drivers, forest and conservation workers, general office
clerks, home health aides, and waiters/waitresses.
These occupations often involve following instructions and
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Information about job opportunities may be obtained from local employers and local offices of State employment services agencies.
A guide to careers in restaurants plus a list of 2- and 4-year colleges offering food service programs and related scholarship information is available from:
For general information on hospitality careers, contact:
- International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education, 2810 North Parham Rd., Suite 230, Richmond, VA 23294. Internet: http://www.chrie.org
Sources: O*Net data version 12.0
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Department of Labor
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