The Pros and Cons of Being a Waiter / Waitress

Serve chilled.

There are a lot of different points to think about before considering a job as a waiter or waitress. To some it may seem like a step back in their career, but don’t really understand that it has the potential of being an excellent line of work, whereas others may think it may be the best job without realizing the pitfalls.

So, no matter which attitude you’re starting out with, it’s important to consider a few things before getting to the Pros and Cons of being a restaurant server.

Think about the following:

  • What kind of lifestyle do you want?
  • What kind of pay/income to you need in order to feel secure?
  • Are you willing to give up your weekends?
  • Can you manage a customer service job?
  • Are you willing to go above and beyond for customers?

So, moving on along from that, let’s start off with the list of pros of being a waiter/waitress and serving tables.


  • Always having cash on hand. You make your money mostly on tips, so leaving with your cash after every shift can be refreshing and extremely motivating.
  • Working less hours, but still making money. A lot of times you have the chance to work busy shifts, but end up making a day’s pay in a few hours. Instead of a 9 to 5, 8 hour days, you can make your money in sometimes 5 hours or less.
  • Always active.   Serving tables means running around grabbing this and that, carrying trays, bringing plates to tables, etc. By constantly moving you are constantly keeping fit rather than sitting in one chair for hours at a time, staring at a computer screen. You’re always on the move.
  • You’re around people. Being around people means hearing interesting stories, interacting and laughing. You also get to witness some pretty crazy stuff (read our True Stories) because, let’s face it, there is always something interesting happening if you’re around people. If you’re a social person than this is your best opportunity because the friendlier you are…the better the tips!
  • You have the ability to control your income – a bit. Since most of your income depends on your tips you have a bit of control of how the customers will show their appreciation for your service. The better service you give, they better tips – or at least the better chance of getting a good tip. So if you can charm your way into your hearts and give them the service they need…ka-ching!
  • The ability to be replaced. A lot of restaurants will allow servers to replace other servers as long as they are equal in their capabilities and experience. Being able to be replaced for a shift is excellent if you want a night off or have plans with family. With other types of jobs sometimes you have to take a sick or personal day, whereas with waitressing sometimes you can just call someone up last minute and have someone work your shift!
  • You don’t have to bring your work home with you. Once you’re off the clock, you never have to take work home with you in order to meet deadlines or carry the worry of wondering if the stress of your shift that day will bleed into the next day. Once a day is over – it’s over. Tomorrow is another day, another chance to better your day!
  • Once you’ve worked as a waiter/waitress…you can pretty much work anywhere as a server. Restaurants are always hiring. It may not be the classiest of restaurants, but if you need to move or are stuck without a job you can always turn to serving tables. You can work in hotels, on cruises, fast food restaurants, family owned restaurants, diners…I mean the choices are endless. As long as there are restaurants, there are jobs for servers.
  • Extra money during the holidays and special days. Days like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and around Christmas time you make a lot of extra money. Those times of the year bring in more people, bigger reservations, parties, etc. So there are times during the year where you make a little more than usual. Consider it like your bonus!
  • The good coworkers. What makes working as a server worthwhile sometimes are the people you work with. Your coworkers who have the same kind of work ethic as you will band together and create a strong bond. If you’re lucky, you’ll have other servers helping you out when you’re in the weeds, rooting for you to make more money, help serve your tables if you need a bathroom break, etc. Some coworkers will go above and beyond for you if you’ve got each other’s backs.
  • Employee outings and get-togethers. If you work with a good team, chances are you’re going to want to hang out with the people you work with. Sometimes people plan outings such as going out to a bar for a drink after work, playing team sports on your days off, paintball, going to see movies, house parties, barbecues, staff Christmas parties, etc. If you have good people you work with it’s like a second family where no one is left behind.


  • With experience and loyalty comes great responsibility. That basically means that the more you know about the restaurant, whether it be from hostess to the back of the house, the more work you may have to do compared to your coworkers. People will rely on you and expect more of you, which could make for even more stress from you. Will you get paid for the extra weight you pull? Maybe not.
  • Having to work weekends. If you’re working in a restaurant, there is pretty much a 100% chance of working weekends. While all of your friend, family and loved ones are off on weekend getaways and having dinner parties, you are the one “stuck serving” all the people out for a night on the town.
  • Always having money on hand. Yes – this is also a pro! But, people who are apt to spending the cash they have could have a major problem with managing their money. Cash is so easy to spend, especially if all the staff is going out for a drink afterwards.
  • After a while – it takes a toll on your body. So many times, servers who have been working for years will feel the effects of carrying heavy plates and constantly being on their feet. Back problems and knee problems are not uncommon. Being a server puts a lot of stress on your body.
  • No benefits. Whereas other companies give their employees benefits from sick days to dental, most restaurants do not provide that for their employees. Are you sick? You have to show up or you don’t get paid.’
  • Having to deal with @$$holes. Yup, I hate to say it, but it’s true. People can be jerks and you will deal with a lot of them. It varies from people who know nothing about the restaurant business, impatient people, people who think you’re their slave, and just plain down-right MEAN people. I’m not saying you have to take whatever crap people throw at you, but if you don’t have a thick enough hide to let some thinks just roll off of you…then this is not the job for you.
  • The bad co-workers. Oh my goodness…there are so many of them! Bad coworkers will ruin your day and can make you lose your mind. It’s always the co-workers who are always late, constantly check their phone in the back, sneak out a million times a night for a smoke break, ignore their customers, talk back to the kitchen, are rude to your tables, asking for replacements but never replacing anyone, and run around looking like they are busy but never actually lifting a finger. It can drive you NUTS!!! Sometimes it makes you think “Why do I bother working so hard?” and can make your motivation just plummet to the ground.
  • Having to work with a different set of “rules” than other jobs. What I mean by that is that the restaurant business has a different way of working. Sure you have the same set of work code and rules as other places…but sometimes not. Now, how shall I put this? For example, the busiest Saturday night you could ever imagine. There are people everywhere! A large party in the back corner is partying it up and talking and laughing loudly. There are kids running around the restaurant and their parents don’t seem to care. The ticket printer at the kitchen is running non-stop and drinks are just flying out of the bar. It’s loud. It’s chaotic. Suddenly, you make a serious mistake. You sent a table’s order, but they wanted to wait. Now the customers are furious that their food came out already and they want you to bring the plates back to the kitchen because they are in no way ready for their meals. You’re scared, because you screwed up and walk back towards the kitchen. Whoever is managing the kitchen is working in overdrive, trying to control everything. They’re sweating from calling out orders, yelling out directions and trying to stay on the ball…and now you have to tell them that you effed-up and throw their whole system off. They look at you at first like they don’t believe you…then you get the “Are you f*cking serious?!?!” look. Next think you know they kick a small garbage bin into the wall and call you an idiot. Is that the way people deal with mistakes in other jobs? No…not really. But, in the restaurant business there is a lot of frustration, especially when under the pressure of a jam packed restaurant. People lose their cool, managers yell, dishwashers quit on the spot with no notice, hostesses won’t seat your section if you do something they don’t like, people back stab and try to screw you over. That’s just the way it works sometimes.
  • The high possibility of becoming angry and bitter. Serving tables after a while can leave you feeling angry and bitter. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself constantly bashing your customers to other servers in the back, judging customers as soon as they sit down, getting down right pissed off about the tips that people leave you. It can get so bad that to a certain point there is nothing good about serving any more. You lose your faith in the good of the human race. The worst is that this kind of behavior is contagious. If you’re around other servers who are constantly angry and complaining about the little things, you’ll start to feel that way too unless you are of VERY strong character. You can turn into someone you don’t like…so be careful.
  • Dining out. Some servers aren’t able to dine out in the way people who don’t serve tables dine out. They will start judging their servers more, especially if they are horrible waiters, and constantly be cleaning up the table or stacking empty plates. They expect the same level of service as they give…and sometimes that’s just not the case. They’ll watch the way people work, hear the phone ringing, watch as their drinks just sit at the bar as they wait, and they know when their steak is over or under cooked. They know how things work and it can distract them from just enjoying their night out. That and sometimes being in a restaurant just reminds them of work.
  • Alcohol/drug abuse. Being in the restaurant business and serving tables can lead to all sorts of alcohol and/or drug problems. Where are you going to go to unwind with co-workers after work at 1 am? Most likely a bar or club. And what do people do at bars and clubs? Well, the answer is pretty obvious. Also, the stress of working in the business can lead to people looking for ways to relax and escape the realities of life. If you’re working as a server at a bar, people by you drinks, shots, and are looking for you to have a good time with them. Sometimes it’s just too hard to say no.

 Just remember…

Not all restaurants are the same.  Each individual restaurant has their own sets of advantages and disadvantages to working as a waiter or waitress.  Part of the decision is at least knowing what could potentially happen and having an all around idea of the good and the bad.  Take both sides into consideration when opting to serve tables and be ready for the best…and the worst.

Good luck!

The Waitress Confessions signature JPEG

19 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Being a Waiter / Waitress

  1. Anonymous March 16, 2015 / 1:58 pm

    this is the most accurate and perfectly written description of my life right now lol. spot on mate, spot on

  2. MJV April 4, 2015 / 7:25 am

    well written. spot on

  3. fairycakes September 30, 2015 / 1:05 am

    Being a server, personally, was the *worst* job i’ve ever had. I honestly couldn’t tell you how awful my experience was. It was such a demanding, draining job. The money is good in the moment, but the job is absolutely soul sucking. People are so rude and foul, and I am not just talking about customers, but kitchen staff alike. There is no respect in this industry, the good things that happened while I was a server were so few and far in-between in the end it just was not worth it at all. I’ve met some great people serving, but for the most part the job is demeaning. You basically are a robot. If anything it is a good motivator to go get a higher education so you can be the person being served rather. Good article though!

    • The Waitress Confessions October 26, 2015 / 10:45 am

      Your experience sounds awful! I’m fortunate enough to be working at a place where we are all like family. A lot of respect throughout both the back and front of house combined. We’re a team and handle everything as such. Thanks for your thoughts!

  4. Anonymous October 18, 2015 / 11:59 am

    Any thoughts on one who moves from waiter to manager the skill set differs entirely and it seems as the better waiters don’t always make good managers even if the know the job inside and out..and how would the best way be to teach or learn that skill set needed.

    • The Waitress Confessions October 26, 2015 / 10:42 am

      I’ve gone from server to manager and I have to say that it can be a difficult process, especially if you are a server becoming a manager at the same restaurant.

      It’s important to start off easy and not get right into telling people what to do or disciplining the staff. Watch and observe. Take notes on the things you notice that the staff is doing both right and wrong. If you’re becoming manager at the same restaurant you were a server, you may have a lot of people talking back to you once you do start to point out things they should or should not be doing. Over time that will change. Learn how to talk to people and how to guide them. Ask a lot of questions.

      If you work at a big name restaurant they may train you at another location. This is good because you can focus on the job and learning without worrying about the staff you already know or will come to know.

      Remember you are a person of “authority” and people look up to you. You must be the one to set examples. Follow the rules of the your restaurant because if you don’t your staff definitely won’t. If you’re in a bad mood, your staff will be feeding off that negative energy. Be a team player. If you’re afraid to get your hands a little dirty or roll up your sleeves to help, the staff may not respect you.

      Listen to the people coming up to you with their thoughts on improvement. These are the people who actually care about the restaurant.

      Don’t let the staff take advantage of you if you’re new. They may try to get away with getting discounts or special treatment. Know what you can and can’t do.

      Lastly, you are their manager. Not their friend. Don’t bad talk other employees to your staff. I know there is always so much talk in the restaurant business, but you never want to turn your staff against each other. Not to say you shouldn’t be friendly. You are there to help everyone and make sure they are all at their best. But giving people special treatment because you know them better when you were a server or whatever the case may be, that can’t happen. It’s business.

      Hope this helps :)

  5. D. Conrad January 20, 2016 / 8:36 pm

    I waited tables for thirty nine years. I have been done working for thirteen months now and miss it alot. I worked at a family business. It had booths in the front. Tables in the dinning room. I had worked the dinning room by myself for thirty nine years. In the beginning it was pretty slow back there but it didn’t take me long to build up my bussiness back there. The room seated seventy people. I had big groups early in the mornings at six. I had a great business going back there. It afforded me a great income. I started out working six days a week for eleven years. Then four days a week for twenty years. The last eight years was three days a week. Each day was a nine hour day. All days were very busy. One day my hands were hurting so bad my hips hurt my legs hurt. I just could not do it anymore. I left had surgery for carpel tunnel. Shots in my spine. No help on either one still looking for help with health. This job is very hard on the body. I hate not working loved the people miss them. When they were rude or mean it was a for me to be so nice that I could change them around. I could do it and there tips got bigger also.

    • Anonymous May 19, 2016 / 10:44 am

      Same boat here 6 year going as a manager at family run business already fee tired hah, but is burn your soul sometime ….. Is draining and sometime meaning less working like a robot :(

  6. Anonymous March 5, 2016 / 7:13 pm

    It was really a great article team. I am starting a new restaurant and I want to know what are the cons employees face so that I can help them avoid those situations and help them stay happy and enthusiastic always.

  7. Janet April 6, 2016 / 11:32 pm

    i have been a waitress for 44 years at the same resturant. I am simi-retired. I have cut down to 3 days a week. I was also a runner and I played a lot of tennis. My legs just kill me. So achy deep inside of them. They feel so tired when walking. I have been having the uncomfortable feelings for several years. Plus I have had back surgery, which at this time doesnt bother me as much as my legs, I was wondering if all this running has been what is causing all this pain. Or is it just that I am so much older. When I started this job in 1972 people would say to me,”waitressing is hard work”, I would tell them that it is easy, cause I like being active. Now I tell bus help to get a good education and get out of this business, it will destroy your body. Because I didnt get a job with benifits and pension I have to keep working to live and pay bills. But I dont hate waitressing. Ninety five percent of the people who I wait on are real nice. Once in a while a real jerk comes along. But I see people being jerks to other people at many other kinds of jobs, like cashiers for one. Oh and by the way, I work for a family run business. I know it would have been worse working for a corporate company. So many stupid rules. My place is layed back, nice people to work for. We have our problems but everything works out.

  8. Clint April 13, 2016 / 12:27 am

    I’m a waiter myself, I have been doing this for years but one thing I have noticed is that I can’t seem to get along with other female waitresses. The are drama queens, worry about what your doing and not worry about themselves, talk down to you in front of customers and coworkers, act like innocent victims when you defend yourself, snitches, they form clicks of other drama queens while brown nosing the gm they push to fire people they don’t like,demands respect but shows none,if your avoiding them they come to you starting shit,they are always negative and always trying to find something to grip and bitch about but never ever say anything positive or something to inspire you to want to go the extra mile, etc…. But yet they are supervisors who didn’t train me at all but just say do it and if I make a mistake I’m public enemy number one. This past week 7 other servers quit,I’m the last one from my training group who is still there and I only been there less than a month. Why are female waitresses so hard for me to get along with? Is it because I won’t choke on their shit like other employees would? Why does my gm keep the drama queens there and lose out on good people who don’t cause drama?

  9. Anonymous October 17, 2016 / 7:07 am

    You nailed many great points. Serving is life draining and can make you turn to alcohol to release the stress. People can be rude and others can be great. Some days are perfect while other day you want to run and quit.
    Working for the restaurant business you have to be ready for anything. If you can’t let go of previous encounters with work then maybe it’s time to find another place to work. I’m in that situation as we speak. It’s hard to leave because my coworkers and job is like a second home. I don’t feel like starting over at a new server job. When your comfortable it really is hard to leave. It’s almost like a relationship if you really think about it.
    Remember any future or current servers, it is just a job and it doesn’t have to be your life. Go to school and get your degree if you can and maybe serve or bartend on the side for extra cash but do not make it a life long career!

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