Learn About Being a Busser
What does a busser do?
A busser (also known as a "busboy" or "busgirl") is an entry-level position in the restaurant industry. Bussers work with kitchen and waitstaff to keep the tables clean and ready for the next customers. Other busser responsibilities include:
- Clearing plates, glasses, napkins and used silverware from tables
- Setting tables for the next customers
- Refilling items such as salt and pepper shakers and condiment bottles if they are missing or empty
- Alerting servers if guests at a table have empty glasses that need to be refilled
- Refilling glasses if servers are busy
- Cleaning up spills
- Serving food, if the restaurant is busy
Salaries for bussers can vary depending on location, type of restaurant and the busser’s level of experience.
- Common salary in the U.S.: $10.61 per hour
- Some salaries range from $7.25 to $19.35 per hour.
While there are skills and personal attributes that can help you become a good busser, there are no certifications or specific education required. Here is some more information on the busser requirements:
Generally, there are no educational requirements to be a busser. In some cases, you may find that a restaurant asks for a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) certificate that is equivalent to a diploma.
Bussers do not require a certification to do their job. However, if you are interested in progressing in a food industry career, you may consider a food safety certification from the ServSafe program. This credential, offered by the National Restaurant Association, demonstrates your knowledge of food preparation, serving and storage practices. You can earn this certification by completing an online course and passing an exam.
Most newly hired bussers will receive on-the-job training from their managers or other kitchen personnel. This training could include safety and cleanliness procedures, as well as some basics of customer service.
While there are no formal certifications necessary to become a busser, certain skills will be useful.
- Stamina: Bussers will be on their feet or walking quickly throughout their shift. There will be little, if any, time where you are sitting down, so physical stamina is an important quality for a busser to have.
- Attentiveness: An observant busser is more likely to notice when a diner’s glass is running empty, or if a child needs a booster chair or crayons. A busser can either attend to those needs or alert the server they are working with. This skill will also help a busser weave through a crowded room without bumping into anyone or spilling food or drinks.
- Strength: Bussers will often have to carry multiple plates and dishes at one time. They may also carry out full trash bags to the dumpster or move tables to create larger seating arrangements.
- Teamwork: Along with the host/hostess, servers, bartenders, sommeliers and other front room employees, a busser is part of a team of workers. It is important for a busser to be able to follow instructions, anticipate demands and understand when to fill in for one of the other team members during a busy mealtime.
- Good customer service skills: A busser will spend a large part of their work day interacting with diners. They will need to have a pleasant, polite and professional demeanor when dealing with guests.
Busser work environment
Bussers work in many restaurant types that can range in size, price and location. They find employment in large chains, small family-owned restaurants, upscale bistros and casual eateries. Larger establishments will likely have more bussers, especially if it is a popular place that is busy on weekends and evenings. As a busser, your work environment will also include the kitchen, where you will be surrounded by chefs, cooks and kitchen equipment.
How to become a busser
To become a busser, you should identify a need in the market and then position yourself to fill that need. Here are steps you can take to become a busser:
- Create a resume. Make sure to list your past experience, education and skills and target the resume to the specific job you are applying for. For example, if you only have space to list four out of the seven jobs you have held, mention the ones in food service first, followed by any you may have that involved customer relations.
- Identify open positions. You can use Indeed.com to find a list of restaurants that are hiring for this position.
- Follow instructions. Read the listing to find out the employer’s requirements for applying, whether it is by emailing a resume, calling a provided number or filling out an online application.
- Prepare for an interview. Dress professionally, take a few hard copies of your resume and prepare answers to some common interview questions ahead of time. After the interview, email a thank you note to your interviewer for their time.
Busser job description example
Our busy family restaurant is looking for bussers who can work weekends and some weeknights. The busser will help servers deliver bread and water to the table, bring booster chairs for children and clean up spills. The position also calls for clearing up and immediately resetting tables with clean plates and flatware. We are a popular restaurant for Saturday dinners and Sunday brunches, so we need someone who can work in a fast-paced environment and work cooperatively with others. Prior restaurant experience preferred, but not required.
A restaurant hires many different workers to cook, serve and clean up. Here are other restaurant jobs you may be interested in: