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Counter Attendants Career

Career Description

Counter Attendants serve food to diners at counter or from a steam table.

Common Work Tasks

  • Scrub and polish counters, steam tables, and other equipment, and clean glasses, dishes, and fountain equipment
  • Serve food, beverages, or desserts to customers in such settings as take-out counters of restaurants or lunchrooms, business or industrial establishments, hotel rooms, and cars
  • Replenish foods at serving stations
  • Take customers’ orders and write ordered items on tickets, giving ticket stubs to customers when needed to identify filled orders
  • Prepare food such as sandwiches, salads, and ice cream dishes, using standard formulas or following directions
  • Wrap menu item such as sandwiches, hot entrees,  and desserts for serving or for takeout
  • Prepare bills for food, using cash registers,  calculators, or adding machines, and accept payment or make change
  • Deliver orders to kitchens, and pick up and serve food when it is ready
  • Serve salads, vegetables, meat, breads, and cocktails, ladle soups and sauces, portion desserts, and fill beverage cups and glasses
  • Add relishes and garnishes to food orders,  according to instructions

Other Job Titles

Counter Attendants are also known by other titles,  including:

  • Cooks
  • Waiters and Waitresses
  • Food Preparation Workers
  • Servers

Education, Training, and Experience

Education and Training
  Most counter attendants require little education or training to start because most skills are learned on the job. Training generally starts with basic sanitation and workplace safety and continues with instruction on food handling, preparation,  and cooking procedures. Training in food handling, sanitation, and health and safety procedures are mandatory in most jurisdictions for all workers.

      Counter attendants must be efficient, quick, and work well as part of a team. Manual dexterity is helpful for cutting, chopping, and plating. These workers also need creativity and a keen sense of taste and smell. Personal cleanliness is essential because most States require health certificates indicating that workers are free from communicable diseases. Knowledge of a foreign language can be an asset because it may improve communication with other short order staff, vendors, and the short order’s clientele.


The median annual salary for a Counter Attendant is $17,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $23,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $14,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of counter attendants are:

  • Limited-Service Eating Places - $16,990
  • Special Food Services - $19,310
  • Motion Pictures and Video Industries - $16,210
  • Elementary and Secondary Schools - $20,300
  • Full-Service Restaurants - $17,740

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  N/A
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: N/A
  • Employment 2006 : N/A
  • Employment 2016:  N/A
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