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Dishwasher Career – 2024 Complete Guide on Duties & Salaries

This guide offers insights into the Dishwasher role, including responsibilities, salaries, work conditions and career progression.

What Is a Dishwasher?

A Dishwasher cleans dishes and other kitchenware used for food service. They work with dishwashing equipment and cleaning agents to ensure sparkling clean dishes are ready for the next meal.

Dishwashers play an important role in maintaining a sanitary kitchen and keeping things in order for everyone else.

Should establishments provide bonuses or shared profits with employees?

What Does a Dishwasher Do?

A Dishwasher’s daily responsibilities include:

  • Cleaning dishes, utensils and cookware thoroughly to ensure hygiene standards
  • Efficiently loading and unloading the dishwasher to optimize space and prevent breakage
  • Washing various kitchen equipment to maintain cleanliness and prolong their life span
  • Keeping the kitchen floors shining with regular sweeping and mopping
  • Jumping in to help with tasks like chopping veggies or prepping ingredients
  • Assisting with additional kitchen tasks as necessary to support the team’s operations

Dishwasher Salary in the US

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the average base salary for Dishwashers in the United States (U.S.) is $29,560 per year or $2,463.33 a month.

Check out the map below for the average Dishwasher salaries per state across the U.S. Know that average salaries can vary per state depending on the local economy, cost of living, market demand, population density, etc.

[Source: BLS]
This map is interactive. Hover your mouse over different parts of the map to see detailed data. 

Washington, the District of Columbia, California and New York are the four top-paying states for Dishwashers, respectively. In contrast, states like Mississippi and West Virginia pay the lowest.

Salary ranges for Dishwashers do not only depend on the state where the employee is located. They can also depend on the industry they’re working in, their professional experience, whether they’re working full-time or part-time and more.

Miami

Annual mean wage

$29,010

# of employees

11,610

New York City

Annual mean wage

$36,220

# of employees

29,780

Chicago

Annual mean wage

$33,970

# of employees

11,270

Los Angeles

Annual mean wage

$37,860

# of employees

25,690

[Sources: BLS; New York State Department of Labor; Illinois Department of Employment Security; California Employment Development Department]

What Is the Workplace of a Dishwasher Like?

A Dishwasher works in the back of the kitchen. Their workstation has a loading area with countertops and sinks where dishes are sorted.

Dishwashers typically operate alongside a mechanical dishwasher unit, equipped with racks designed to accommodate plates, bowls, glasses and utensils efficiently. Using this unit, Dishwashers load and unload items swiftly to maximize the unit’s efficiency, especially during peak hours.

Common Dishwasher equipment

 

The environment can be hot and humid, particularly near the dishwasher unit. It can get loud as well, with the clatter of dishes and the sound of machinery.

Because of the nature of the work and potential hazards, Dishwashers often wear appropriate attire, such as no-slip shoes, to prevent accidents in wet conditions. They also wear aprons to shield against splashes and spills and sometimes protective gear like gloves to safeguard against hot surfaces and chemicals.

These attire choices enhance safety and contribute to the comfort and well-being of the Dishwasher throughout their shift.

The pace is fast, particularly during peak feast times when messy dishes pile up rapidly. Dishwashers need to be efficient to keep up with the flow.

While dishwashing may require little creativity, it can still be physically demanding work. You’ll likely be standing for long periods, coming to, lifting and carrying loads of dishes.

Dishwasher Industry Trends in 2024

The Dishwasher role is expected to grow by 0.46% in the next 10 years, which is much lower than the average national job growth in the U.S. for all positions, which is 3.71%.

[Source: BLS]
This map is interactive. Hover your mouse over different parts of the map to see detailed data. 

As of 2022, there are 431,840 Dishwashers across the U.S. This was a 9% increase after the big drop in the number of Dishwashers in 2020, when only 395,660 Dishwashers were employed.

Which Industries Employ the Most Dishwashers the Most?

The Dishwasher role is in high demand in the following industries:

  • Restaurants and food service establishments: This category includes everything from casual diners and cafes to fast-food chains. Dishwashers mainly wash dishes, utensils and cookware for food service.

Industries with highest employment for Dishwashers

  • Special food services: This category includes food trucks, delivery services and catering companies that offer specialized menu items. Dishwashers in special food services keep mobile kitchens or unique prep areas clean and sanitary.
  • Traveler accommodation: Hotels and resorts rely on Dishwashers to maintain clean kitchen areas. This includes washing dishes utilized in lodging areas, catering events and room service. Dishwashers can also do other tasks that go beyond dishwashing, such as washing sheets, towels and linens.
  • Amusement and recreation venues: Theme parks, stadiums, arenas and entertainment complexes often employ Dishwashers. In these settings, Dishwashers clean dishes used in concession stands, restaurants, VIP lounges and catering services for events held within the venue.
  • Institutional settings (hospitals, schools, nursing homes): Dishwashers play a vital role in hospitals, schools, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. They guarantee the sanitation of dishes, utensils and plates utilized by patients, understudies, residents and staff by following strict cleanliness and sanitation protocols.

If you’re on the lookout for which industries pay the most for Dishwashers, check the table below.

Industry Annual Mean Wage
Other Personal Services $36,060
Traveler Accommodation $35,050
Colleges, Universities & Professional Schools $34,810
Management of Companies & Enterprises $34,280
Other Miscellaneous Retailers $33,900

[Source: BLS]

How To Become a Dishwasher

Many people start as Dishwashers and then move up to higher-level roles, such as Servers and Hosts. They then move on to more management-level positions like Assistant Restaurant Manager.

To get started, here are some steps to take to grow as a Dishwasher.

Prepare Your Credentials

Formal education and prior experience are not typically mandatory for Dishwasher roles. However, restaurants and other establishments value dependable and hardworking individuals.

While a high school diploma or GED may be a plus for some establishments, the most sought-after qualities are reliability and a strong work ethic.

Target Your Job Search

Restaurants consistently seek reliable Dishwashers. To identify opportunities, maximize online job boards and restaurant websites.

Be proactive by visiting restaurants or other establishments you would like to work for and inquiring about potential openings.

Showcase Your Skills

When applying for Dishwasher positions, highlight your transferable skills, such as your ability to work effectively as part of a team or learn quickly.

During the interview, present yourself professionally, arrive punctually and express your enthusiasm for working in a kitchen environment.

Embrace On-the-Job Training

Most Dishwasher training is conducted in the workplace. Training will most likely cover dishwashing procedures and the establishment’s standards of cleanliness.

Top Skills of the Best Dishwasher

In a fast-paced kitchen environment, Dishwashers play a basic part in maintaining smooth operations and guaranteeing that all food safety standards and cleanliness guidelines are met.

Best skills for Dishwashers

 

  • Equipment mastery: Dishwashers need to have basic knowledge of how to operate dishwashing equipment. This includes the capability to stack and empty dishes based on material, cycle needs and the intensity of the cleaning process. Dishwashers should also be able to troubleshoot minor machine breakdowns.
  • Organizational efficiency: Effective Dishwashers should always maximize their workflow. This includes categorizing messy dishes based on material and soil level to optimize wash cycles.
  • Time management: Dishwashers should strategically prioritize tasks based on what’s urgent and important. They expect busy periods and pre-wash soiled kitchenware to avoid a backlog.
  • Sense of cleanliness: It is important to stay current with your establishment’s cleanliness guidelines. This will keep you mindful of your work and its quality. When you’re done washing dishes and other kitchenware, make sure they are spotless. Apply the appropriate sanitization techniques to avoid cross-contamination and follow food safety guidelines.
  • Team collaboration: Successful Dishwashers collaborate consistently with kitchen staff and Servers. Open communication cultivates a cohesive work environment where everybody is adjusted on errands and needs.

Food Service Training for Dishwashers

There are usually minimal to no requirements to be a Dishwasher. Most of the time, it’s an entry-level role for other higher-level positions.

Job seekers or Dishwashers can get these certifications if they wish to advance their careers. Meanwhile, employers can specify these certifications in their job descriptions if they’re looking for people with specializations.

Food Handler’s Permit

Many states in the U.S. require food service workers to hold a Food Handler’s Permit. Training courses cover safe food handling practices and other topics related to kitchen work.

Dishwashers can consider acquiring a Food Handler’s Permit, especially if they want to work towards becoming a Prep Cook or perform other food service roles.

First Aid and CPR Certification

First aid and CPR certifications can be valuable in any industry. Being trained to respond appropriately to kitchen accidents can help you bring more value to the team.

Professional Kitchen Training Courses

There are many online and in-person courses out there related to kitchen work that you can take as a Dishwasher. Choose from different topics such as kitchen safety, equipment operation, food preparation techniques and more to help you advance beyond dishwashing duties and into other higher-level roles.

Dishwasher Career Progression

Given that the Dishwasher role is typically an entry-level position in the industry, there are many ways Dishwashers can advance their careers.

Here are a few examples of how Dishwashers can level up their career in the culinary, food service and hospitality industries.

Dishwasher
Culinary
Dishwasher
Avg Salary $ 29,560
Prep Cook
Avg Salary $ 32,427
Line Cook
Avg Salary $ 33,829
Sous Chef
Avg Salary $ 56,013
Food Service
Dishwasher
Avg Salary $ 29,560
Busser
Avg Salary $ 30,040
Server
Avg Salary $ 35,457
Assistant Restaurant Manager
Avg Salary $ 50,775
Hospitality
Dishwasher
Avg Salary $ 29,560
Porter
Avg Salary $ 33,130
Receptionist
Avg Salary $ 34,600
Concierge
Avg Salary $ 38,270

Dishwasher FAQs

Yes, it is relatively easy to get hired as a Dishwasher. Dishwashing roles are frequently available in restaurants, hotels and other food service establishments.

This position typically does not require formal qualifications or prior experience, making it accessible to individuals entering the workforce or seeking employment in the culinary industry for the first time

A formal CV (curriculum vitae) is not required to apply for a Dishwasher position. Employers may primarily request a job application or resume that highlights relevant experience, skills and availability.

Yes, dishwashing can be an excellent first job for individuals entering the workforce, especially for those with little to no prior work experience.

It provides an opportunity to learn basic workplace skills such as time management, teamwork and attention to detail.

Additionally, working as a Dishwasher can offer valuable insights into the operations of a kitchen or restaurant environment, which may be beneficial for individuals considering a career in the culinary industry or hospitality sector.

Yes, many employers provide on-the-job training for new Dishwashers to familiarize them with the specific tasks, equipment and procedures involved in dishwashing.

Training may include instruction on operating dishwashing machines, proper handling of utensils and kitchen equipment, sanitation protocols and safety guidelines.

Below are some of the challenges:

  • Heavy workload: During peak hours, the volume of dirty dishes can be overwhelming.
  • Physical demands: Standing for long periods, lifting heavy objects and repetitive motions can lead to fatigue and soreness.
  • Heat and humidity: Dishwashing areas can be hot and steamy, especially near dishwashers.
  • Working with chemicals: Proper handling and storage of detergents and sanitizing solutions is crucial.

Wear comfortable, non-slip shoes to prevent falls. Also, practice proper lifting techniques to avoid back strain.

Remember to take breaks to stretch and move around to reduce fatigue. Be careful with hot water, and use gloves to protect your hands from harsh detergents and sharp objects.

Most importantly, report any broken equipment or unsafe conditions to your supervisor. This can prevent injuries to you and your team members.

Here are some steps you can take to improve your efficiency as a Dishwasher:

  • Organize your workspace: Keep clean and dirty dishes separated for a smooth workflow.
  • Scrape off food particles: This prevents food from clogging the dishwasher and ensures a better clean.
  • Load the dishwasher strategically: Maximize space without overloading to avoid damage or improper cleaning.
  • Learn the different wash cycles: Choose the right cycle for different types of dishes to optimize cleaning.
  • Maintain the dishwasher: Regularly clean the filters and spray arms to ensure proper operation.

Absolutely! Dishwashing is a great entry point into the restaurant industry. By showing your work ethic and willingness to learn, you can move up to roles like:

  • Prep cook: Assisting with chopping vegetables, preparing ingredients and basic food prep tasks
  • Line cook: Working on a specific cooking station to prepare dishes
  • Server: Taking customer orders, delivering food and providing excellent table service
  • Sous chef: Assisting the Head Chef with supervising the kitchen and ensuring smooth operations

To maximize your contribution to your team, you can take the following steps:

  • Take initiative: Don’t wait for instructions when you find yourself not doing anything. Look for ways to help others on the kitchen crew. If you’re just starting and are confused about something, don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure it out for yourself. Ask a team member who has more experience.
  • Maintain a positive attitude: A good work ethic and positive outlook contribute to a better work environment for everyone. The fast-paced kitchen setting can already get stressful, so it’s best to take everything in stride and remain calm and collected.
  • Ask questions and show your openness to learn: Let your supervisor know you’re interested in expanding your skills. Your establishment may have more opportunities for you, and you’ll expand your skillset and experience in the process.
  • Be reliable and punctual: Showing up on time and being dependable will make you a valuable asset to the team.

Unlike a Dishwasher, whose primary task is to clean dishes, glassware, utensils and other kitchenware, Kitchen Stewards have a broader range of responsibilities, including basic food preparation, supply inventory, etc.

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