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What’s the Career Path After Working as a Waitress/Waiter?

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While serving can be a great starting point in the hospitality industry, it’s not something most people see themselves doing for a long time.

Fortunately, the service industry provides plenty of opportunities for advancement as long as you’re willing to work on yourself and learn new things.

In this article, we’ll discuss which skills are transferable, what the ideal jobs after serving are and the steps you can take to successfully transition from waiting tables.

Transferrable Skills From Waitress/Waiter

A good Waitress/Waiter already knows how to provide excellent customer service. In the restaurant and hospitality industry, being service-oriented is important, no matter the role. This is something future employers will undoubtedly value since interpersonal skills are always sought-after.

Waiting tables is arguably one of the most demanding jobs since it’s physically and mentally exhausting. If you’ve been working as a Waitress/Waiter, you’re probably physically active and can work other jobs that require standing for extended periods of time or lifting heavier objects.

Other soft skills that translate to many jobs in the service industry include multitasking, attention to detail, effective communication and teamwork.

Career Options After Waitress/Waitress

There are plenty of career options for Servers in the restaurant and hospitality industry.

Here, we list a few of them to give you a general idea of what your options are.

Barback or Bartender

These are two of the best jobs to take on as a former Server. Why? Well, simply because they’re quite similar to the role of Server, making them some of the easier career transitions.

Of course, you’ll need to learn your way around the bar, but you’ve probably been around bars long enough to have a good idea of what they’re like.

Mixology skills can always be acquired through watching how-to videos and practicing. In fact, there are plenty of online bartending courses and bartending schools that you can enroll into. These courses and schools offer hands-on training to equip you with all the skills and knowledge you’ll need to work as a Bartender.

Some bartending schools even offer bartending certificates and licenses that a lot of establishments look for when hiring. Those certificates and licenses can make you stand out from other candidates when applying for barbacking and bartending jobs.


Sommeliers specialize in serving wine in fine-dining restaurants. Becoming a Sommelier can be a significant step-up in your professional career.

While the serving duties of a Waitress/Waiter and Sommelier are somewhat similar, there are a few key skills that Sommeliers possess and Servers do not.

For starters, Sommeliers are wine experts. To become a Sommelier, you’ll probably need to attend a course from one of four renowned institutions:

These institutions award certificates to their graduates that credit them for having varying levels of knowledge about wine.

This knowledge can cover the different types, flavors and textures of grapes, the different popular regions, different glassware, serving techniques and so on.

Once you get into the role of a Sommelier, you can aspire to become a Master Sommelier. There are less than 300 Master Sommeliers in the world. This makes it one of the most prestigious positions in the restaurant and hospitality industry.

While going through the courses of the aforementioned four institutions will definitely make it easier for you to land a job as a Sommelier, they’re not necessary. If the establishment you currently work in already has a Sommelier, you can ask them for training to start learning about the job.

This is where you can use your interpersonal skills to develop a relationship with the Sommelier.

Restaurant Manager

If you’ve proven yourself as a hardworking Waitress/Waiter in a restaurant or bar, you might be considered for a managerial role.

Most of the time, you’ll be approached by the owner or upper management, so it might not be in your control whether you get this position over somebody else.

However, if you have the confidence and a work history of doing a great job at the establishment, you can ask for a promotion and explain why you’d do great in your new role.

Most restaurants would rather give the role of Restaurant Manager to someone who has already worked for them and has proven their worth, rather than an “outsider” looking to step in.

Cook jobs

If you enjoy cooking and want to pursue a career in a kitchen, you can take up a Line Cook job or Prep Cook job. These are entry-level kitchen jobs that teach a lot about what it’s like to work in a fast-paced kitchen.

Keep in mind that kitchens are often high-stress environments where you need to communicate loudly and clearly, as well as work well under pressure.

Fortunately, former Servers can apply many of their skills in these kitchen roles.

For example, good communication is just as important with other kitchen employees as it is with customers. You’ll need great organizational and multitasking skills to juggle between different tasks at the same time.

Processes in the kitchen need to be streamlined. In order to accomplish that, teamwork is an absolute must.

If you’re a beginner, make sure to ask as many questions as possible. It’s better to ask questions you think are irrelevant than to waste time redoing something. Ask for help if something is not ready on time. More often than not, more experienced people will be willing to assist you.

Steps to Transition 

There are a few steps you can take to ensure a successful transition to jobs after serving.

Willingness to learn

First and foremost, you need to be willing to learn new things and work hard. This can take you out of your comfort zone, but if you truly want to advance, it’ll be worth it.

Thanks to the internet, you have a huge amount of educational content about any role out there. You can watch videos, follow popular people in the industry and learn from them.

Bartending schools, for example, are a great source of practical and theoretical knowledge for barbacking and bartending positions.

Similarly, there are cooking courses that will help guide you into the culinary world.

Update your resume

Once you feel confident in your knowledge and skills about the role you want to apply for, list them in your resume.

Even if you don’t have all the necessary skills required for a certain role, you probably have transferable skills that you gained while working as a Waitress/Waiter.

Take advantage of your networking

The nature of the restaurant and hospitality industry means you get to work with people from different backgrounds every day. You can take advantage of that and make connections not only with co-workers, but clients as well.

For that reason, it’s important to always be friendly, have a smile on your face and make yourself approachable.

Of course, building a relationship with a client can be delicate. Avoid discussing business opportunities at work.

The clients are probably not looking to do business with anyone when they’ve gone out to eat or have a drink. For that reason, only consider making personal connections with them and leave business chats for another day.

Ready to Take the Next Step After Waiting Tables?

Are you ready to take the next step and advance your career in the service industry?

The roles we talked about and the tips we provided should give you a general idea of what you can look forward to, and what it will take to transition to another role successfully.

There are plenty of opportunities for hard workers in the restaurant and hospitality industry, so it comes down to your personal preference about what you want to do next. 

At the end of the day, the best jobs are the ones we enjoy doing. So set a goal for yourself and work towards it!

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