Fast Food Worker

Career Information

fast food worker
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Job Description

Working in a fast food restaurant isn't glamorous and it can hardly be considered skilled work. However, a fast food worker has flexibility in scheduling work time which makes it a perfect job for a high school student who can earn money and gain valuable customer service experience. Fast food workers take and fill customers' orders for food and drinks. They assemble some items, for example, sandwiches and salads. They also collect payment. In addition, they maintain dining areas, including clearing and cleaning tables, emptying trash cans and washing or vacuuming floors.

Establishments have a variety of names for fast food workers. They include crew member, team member, store associate, cashier and customer service associate.

Employment Facts

There were close to three million fast food workers employed in the United States in 2012. As compared to other occupations, a disproportionally large number of them were teenagers.

Since fast food restaurants are usually open every day of the week and for many hours each day, employees can have flexible schedules. That is something that appeals greatly to many people, particularly students. The downside is that these schedules often include working on weekends and holidays. Please note that although some restaurants are open 24 hours a day child labor laws prohibit minors from working late at night or early in the morning. In addition, there are restrictions as to the number of hours a teenager may work during the school week.

Some states also require that those under age 18 have employment / age certificates, commonly known as working papers.

Educational Requirements

Preparation for this occupation typically involves only short-term on-the-job training. While some restaurants prefer to hire workers with experience, many are willing to provide training.

Other Requirements

Fast food workers need good customer service skills since most of what they do all day is serve the public. That means always being polite and respectful. You must be able to keep your cool when customers aren't as nice as you'd like. If you want a job in a fast food restaurant, get ready to stand on your feet throughout your shift. For this, you need good physical stamina which will also enable you to lift heavy items and clean work areas. Teamwork is important to the functioning of these establishments so you must be able to work well with others.

Job Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job growth for fast food workers will be as fast as the average for all occupations through 2020. Due to a high rate of turnover, there will be more job openings in this field than in most others.


Fast food workers, in 2014, earned median hourly wages of $8.85. This translates into $18,410 annually (US). 

In addition to monetary compensation, some fast food establishments offer other benefits such as health insurance and vacation time to workers including those who are employed part time. These establishments are the exception to the rule, unfortunately. Many fast food restaurants pay their workers minimum wage and don't offer benefits to their part-time workers. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Some states are beginning to increase their minimum wage, which some say could improve the lives of those who work in this or similar occupations.

Others argue that it could mean fewer jobs for them since employers will be reluctant to pay wages that may be as high as $15 per hour for fast food workers.

Use the Salary Wizard at to find out how much a fast food worker currently earns in your city.

A Day in a Fast Food Worker's Life

Here are some typical job duties taken from online ads for fast food workers found on

  • Prepare and cook food
  • Take food and drink orders
  • Serve customers
  • Meet and greet customers
  • Operate cash register and receive payment from customer in cash or credit card
  • Provide excellent customer care
  • Responsible for the cleanliness and organization of assigned food venue
  • Promote positive guest relations

Occupations With Related Tasks or Activities

Description Hourly Salary (2014) Educational Requirements


Takes payment for merchandise in the form of cash or a credit card $9.16 No educational requirements, but employers hiring full-time cashiers often prefer a high school diploma

Short Order Cook

Prepares food that can be cooked quickly or is served cold $9.71 On-the-job training

Waiter or Waitress

Serves food to customers in restaurants $9.01 On-the-job training

Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers.
Employment and Training Administration, US Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers.