Host Or Hostess

Job Duties

Hosts and hostesses have the responsibility of immediately establishing the atmosphere of a restaurant for the customers when they first walk in the door. They greet customers with courtesy and class and direct them to the appropriate table or accompany them to the table, providing menus and letting the customers know which waiter or waitress will be serving them. They take and schedule reservations over the phone. They may also help customers plan special events that will take place at the restaurant. For these events, hosts and hostesses may supervise and coordinate dining room staff.

Hosts and hostesses make ever effort to ensure that the patrons’ dining experience is an enjoyable one. If a customer has a complaint, they will often be the one to listen and make any necessary adjustments. They make sure that all service stations are neat and clean. Some serve as cashiers. Their duties do not end with customer interaction, however. They often interview, hire, train, and fire new staff. They sometimes schedule worker shifts and keep records of employee work times. Some even assist the chef and owner in planning the menu.

Job Skills

Those interested in host or hostess positions should have a neat and well-groomed appearance. They need to have a courteous and pleasant personality. Their customer relations skills must be of the highest caliber, and they should be able to function calmly in situations where stress is extremely high.


The earnings of hosts and hostesses depend largely on the restaurant in which they work. Those who have little or no experience may earn an hourly wage of between $4.25 and $8.75. Those who have experience may earn as much as $13.50 per hour. Most work shifts that include nights and weekends. Students are particularly drawn to these jobs because they offer extremely flexible shift options. Most hosts and hostesses receive discounts on food and beverages from their employer. Some large restaurants offer employees health insurance and paid vacations.

Training and Education

Many employers prefer to hire applicants for host and hostess positions who have a high school diploma. Beyond this, there are usually no particular educational requirements. Most employers train hosts and hostesses on the job once they are hired. For those who are more ambitious and envision a career in the restaurant industry, specialized training from schools specializing in restaurant occupations may be of special value. Depending on the type and size of the restaurant in which they work, hosts and hostesses may advance to waiter or waitress, dining room supervisor, or restaurant manager.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of hosts and hostesses is expected to increase about as fast as the average. This will be due to increases in population, personal incomes, and amount of leisure time available. The occupation has an extremely high turnover rate, and most job openings are a result of workers leaving their jobs.

To learn more about hospitality, retail, and travel related careers, please visit our section on Hospitality Schools for more information.