Fast Food Jobs: Salary of Fast Food Workers

Name: Tyler Zimmerman
Job Title: Fast Food Worker (Cashier)
Where: Carbondale, Illinois
Employer: Arby’s
Years of Experience: 1 and a half years
Education: GED
Salary: According to PayScale’s Research Center, the median salary of fast food workers ranges from $5.91 to $8.86 per hour in different U.S. cities.

Salary of Fast Food Workers

Fast food jobs vary as much as the people who work them. For some, fast food jobs are a part-time gig, for others, an entry into the job market, temporary position or a full-time career. Tyler Zimmerman is a teen who has worked for Arby’s for almost two years; that’s a veteran in fast food jobs.

In this Salary Story, Tyler gave us his fast food cashier job description, plus a behind-the-scenes look into the salary of fast food workers, things that annoy fast food workers, challenges of fast food restaurant jobs, factors that affect the salary of a fast food worker and current trends in fast foods. This is one super-sized combo you don’t want to miss!

Fast Food Cashier Job Description:

I take orders in the drive-thru and on the front-line (counter), and gather the fast food together to give to the customer. I also go through the lobby, where people eat, and clean it up. Sometimes I work on the back-line too make the food.

Once a week, I unload the truck with all the food (frozen) and put it in the cooler; that takes about an hour. Then you put the food in the oven and heat it up. At Arby’s, we have roast beef so it takes 4 hours to cook and put it in the slicer.

To make shakes, I pour a liquid into a machine that makes the shake. We are supposed to clean it every night because the liquid dries up. So we clean it out by pouring hot water inside. We also have to clean out the fry bin.

The fry bin has holes in it and the grease rolls down through the holes and sits there all day. At nighttime, we clean it and there’s like half a gallon of grease down there!

What are things that annoy fast food workers?

Fast food jobs are not bad. Dealing with rude customers is the worst part about fast food jobs. I don’t think I’ll be able to deal with it for a really long time. A lot of customers complain for no reason. They get mad if it takes a few extra minutes to get their food ready.

Usually I have to deal with one rude customer every day. On the good side, I get half off the food prices. I’m tall, so sometimes I hit my head on the drive-thru window when I stick my head out.

How did you enter the world of fast food jobs?

I was 16 when I started working at Arby’s. I put in applications everywhere. The general manager was a family friend, so I knew him well. They called me so I went to an interview and got the job. I was still in high school so I couldn’t work ful-time at the time.

Before Arby’s, I worked at Bonanza when I was 15. In Illinois, you have to get a work permit at 15 if you want to work. Fast food is about the only place around here that will hire teens.

What are the healthiest fast foods?

I usually eat fast food at least 5 times a week, I don’t have a lot of time on my lunch breaks, so I’m usually in a hurry. Each restaurant has unhealthy and healthy foods, but overall I would have to say that Subway is the healthiest. They have salads at Arby’s, but the dressing has calories, so eating salad without dressing is healthiest.

Any advice for people who want to work fast food restaurant jobs?

They would be much better off getting a different job. Fast food restaurant jobs aren’t where you want to be for the rest of your life. Fast food is more of a job for high schoolers and young adults. And if you don’t like working with customers, fast food isn’t for you.

Some customers can be really nice, but others can be extremely rude so you have to be careful how you act and what you say; because you can say one thing to someone and they may not be offended, but the next customer might think you were rude.

I had no cooking experience, but fast food is easy. You don’t really have to cook anything, just put it all together.

What is the outlook for fast food jobs?

There are more fast food jobs because towns are getting bigger and more people are coming to America. People quit a lot because fast food jobs are not what most people really want to make into a career. Fast food jobs are for someone who needs a short-term job, or college kids who take part-time jobs.

When fast food managers interview you, they don’t really care about your experience. They just ask “What kind of goals do you have?” or “Are you reliable for work?”

What factors can affect the salary of a fast food worker?

Each restaurant has there own policy about setting the salary of a fast food worker. Arby’s usually pays more than McDonalds. Managers and assistant managers get paid around $2.00 – $3.00 more than the regular salary of a fast food worker. When you get certified on the front line and/or back line, you get a raise.

We get certified on front line – working the counter, learning register, learning the combos, changing sauces in the lobby (where people eat) – and on the back line – making sandwiches, learning how to take the food from the cooler and heat it up; that can all affect the salary of a fast food worker.

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