Server and Waiter: Is There a Difference?

Although most people assume that a server and waiter are the same things but in reality, there is a huge difference between the two. While a server as the term suggests “serves” the customers, waiters on the other hand are much like “Attendants”. They are there to answer customer queries and guide them about food. Moreover, they are also responsible for taking orders and waiting while the customer makes food decisions. Let us take the discussion a bit further and try to explain server and waiter differences more extensively.

Things You Need To Know As a Waiter

As mentioned previously, waters are responsible for serving food and beverages in restaurants. It is indeed a tough job that requires skill and experience. If you are someone who is planning to pursue a career as a waiter, there are certain things you need to know.


The first thing you need to know if you are pursuing a career as a waiter or a waitress is that this profession is only for those who have flexible schedules such as students. Due to this reason alone, many waiters prefer working part-time since slots are available for early morning, afternoon, or evening. Those who need an extra job can become a waiter as well. Since it is a beginner-level position, no formal education is needed.

As a result, many of those who are just starting their careers and wish to become independent as soon as possible adopt this profession. However, if you are working at a restaurant that serves alcoholic beverages, the law in some states requires that you must be at least 18 years old.


The best thing about being a waiter is that you do not need formal education. Learning is done on the job by following the experienced waiters and supervisors. Furthermore, there are several schools and academies as well that offer courses particularly related to working in restaurants. If you were to acquire a certificate or a degree from such institutes, your chances of working in an elite restaurant increases. One of the most important trainings provided to waiters is patience.

A waiter needs to be patient and calm 24/7 while on duty. He/she is not allowed to talk back to the customer or argue. You have to follow the “Customer is always right” rule. Therefore, if you are someone who has a temper issue, you might want to work on that before you apply for the waiter position. 


As soon as the customer is given a table to sit at, the waiter is supposed to present the menu and wait for the customer to order. During that, if the customer happens to ask questions, the waiter is bound to reply politely and calmly. Becoming irritated after several questions is not the job of a waiter and is not at all accepted. If that is the case, you are at the risk of losing your job on the very first day. After the order has been given, the waiter hands it to the kitchen staff that begins to prepare it.

At the same time, if another customer pops in, the same customer has to accommodate him/her as well. In simple words, a waiter has to be on his/her feet all the time carrying heavy trays and crockery.


Waiters on average earn around $20,890 per year, which makes it roughly $10 per hour. Not bad for an entry-level job. However, those in the top 10 percent earn comparatively more than that. The best thing about being a waiter is that apart from the fixed income, you get tips as well. Therefore, you get to take home a reasonable compensation for the day. Tips also motivate the staff to work harder as well. The more the tip, the bigger the share received by each staff member.

Tips on being a good waiter

The customer is always right

If you plan on being a waiter for a long-time you should not settle on being average. Instead, you should work towards being amongst the top if not the top. With that being said, one of the primary principles as mentioned previously is that the “Customer is always right”. Customers are paying good money for the quality of food your restaurant boasts about. If the food does not come out as expected and the customer is not satisfied, you should not argue. Immediately, take it back and inform the manager. The manager will come to the table and speak with the customer.

Be friendly and professional

Being friendly is one thing and being a professional is another. One of the most common mistakes waiters tend to make is that they become too friendly. This makes customers feel uncomfortable. Therefore, it is suggested that you are friendly but professional at the same time. Remember, that a customer is a customer, not a friend. He/she is paying for the food you are serving and not for chitchats. Even if the customer jokes around you for a while, maintain your professionalism. Engaging in unnecessary jokes can land you in hot waters.

Things you need to know as a server

Be Efficient

As a server, turning tables efficiently is key to making more money but there is a difference between turning tables and rushing guests. If you were to develop efficient skills, you will keep up with the restaurant’s average table turn time and keep a steady predictable flow of customers and even profits as well. Furthermore, great servers know that free time in a restaurant is scarce. They will never go from one place to another empty-handed.

There is always something that needs to be taken care of. Even if you are not assigned for a while, develop the habit of helping others, or managing things on your own to save time and make more customers get in.

Be diplomatic with the campers

While it is great that your customers are having a great time and enjoying the conversation, what they might not know is that they are wasting your restaurant’s valuable time. The more time they spend in the restaurant after having dinner, the more customers you are going to lose. Such guests are called “campers”. Moreover, while campers would like to take their time, you should not be forcing them to leave or be rude. Instead, deal diplomatically. Request the customers politely to leave the table as someone who has made a reservation is waiting for the table.

Be Observant

A restaurant is a big and busy place. While you cannot keep an eye on every table but be observant Furthermore, you do not need to visit each table to ask how everything’s going. Simply walk past the tables and if there is, anything required by the customers, they will let you know. At the same time, keep track of time. Take note of how far along in the meal the customers are. Could they use more drinks? Perhaps you notice that the wine bottle is getting low and the glasses are empty. This might be the perfect opportunity to step in and ask if they would like another bottle of wine.

Exercise good manners

Although servers are meant to shift the food from the trays to the dining table, they must exercise good manners. It is something that goes beyond the job itself. Good manners involve looking in the customer’s eye while they are talking to you and perhaps pulling out a chair for them to sit. It is also about smiling and listening when the customers are talking. Most importantly, it is about putting the customer’s interest before your own.

Final Word

Being a waiter or server is no doubt a tough job. It has more to do with skills rather than experience. While both are respectable and one of the most sought professions in the world of restaurants, you should consider the above-mentioned tips to become the best. With time, these tips will help shape and polish your personality that will open doors for better opportunities in the future as well.