California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Dishwashers in California

May also be called: Bus Person Dishwashers; Dishwashing Machine Operators; Kitchen Cleaners; Kitchen Helpers; Kitchen Stewards; and Pan Washers

What Would I Do?

Dishwashers clean cookware, cooking utensils, dishware, glassware, and silverware. Some workers operate a dishwashing machine while others wash dishes by hand. When using a dishwashing machine, workers prepare tableware and cookware by rinsing and removing all food scraps before placing into the machine. After the dishwashing machine is loaded, soap is added, the correct wash and dry cycles are selected, and the machine is started. Whether the items are washed in a dishwashing machine or hand washed they must be clean and dry before being put away in their appropriate places.

Dishwashers’ duties may vary depending on the establishment. At times they may need to help in other areas of the restaurant. This includes setup, cleanup, and breakdown of tables and food preparation areas; preparing food for large events; bussing tables; and maintaining kitchen equipment when necessary. Dishwashers may also help stock supplies, such as fresh food and other food products in cupboards, refrigerators, and serving stations.

Dishwashers maintain a sanitary environment by keeping work areas and equipment clean and organized. They sweep and mop floors; remove and dispose of garbage; and clean countertops, display cases, refrigerators, and stoves. Dishwashers are constantly maintaining the health and safety standards of the businesses where they work.

Tools and Technology

Dishwashers use a variety of tools in the course of their work, including brooms, commercial dishwashers, dish drainers, hand trucks, mops, and trash compactors.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Wash dishes, glassware, flatware, pots, or pans, using dishwashers or by hand.Finger Dexterity
Place clean dishes, utensils, or cooking equipment in storage areas.Static Strength
Maintain kitchen work areas, equipment, or utensils in clean and orderly condition.Multilimb Coordination
Stock supplies, such as food or utensils, in serving stations, cupboards, refrigerators, or salad bars.Trunk Strength
Sweep or scrub floors.Arm-Hand Steadiness
Sort and remove trash, placing it in designated pickup areas.Manual Dexterity
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Dishwashers work in a variety of businesses including bars, hospitals, hotels, restaurants, and retirement homes. Much of their work involves bending, lifting, reaching, standing, and twisting. Dishwashers should also be able to work in a fast-paced environment and lift more than 20 pounds. They may risk suffering injuries from hot water or sharp utensils; however, they can minimize the risk by following proper safety procedures. Some work 40 hours a week, while others may only work part-time. To meet business demand, flexible work hours may be required.

Most Dishwashers are not unionized. However, in some large restaurants and hotels, Dishwashers may belong to unions, such as Unite HERE and the Service Employees International Union.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Dishwasher may appeal to those who enjoy tackling practical hands-on problems and solutions while keeping a clean and safe work environment. In addition, this occupation may also be a good choice for an individual who is task and detailed oriented. The ability to communicate clearly and effectively is helpful.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?


The median wage in 2020 for Dishwashers in California is $26,586 annually, or $12.78 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2020Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2020 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas


Benefits vary widely by employer, but are usually only available to full-time employees. These benefits may include medical insurance, sick leave, and vacation. Some employers may offer reduced-price meals or furnish uniforms.

What is the Job Outlook?

As a result of more individuals eating out there should be increased job opportunities for Dishwashers. However, like many occupations, employment may be sensitive to fluctuations in the economy.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Dishwashers is expected to grow slower than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Dishwashers are expected to increase by 9.4 percent, or 8,200 jobs between 2016 and 2026.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

While there are no specific educational requirements for Dishwashers, most employers prefer at least a high school diploma or general education diploma (GED). New employees usually receive on-the-job training. Some employers may also require a California Food Handler Card. This card shows that the employee has been trained in food safety practices to reduce foodborne illness.


The amount of experience required varies by employer. Entry-level positions usually require little or no previous work experience.

Early Career Planning

High school students planning to become Dishwashers should take courses in basic mathematics, computers, English, and foreign language.

Some Regional Occupational Programs (ROP) offer introductory courses in food service and restaurant careers. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Dishwashers are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Full-Service Restaurants78.8%
Special Food Services3.6%
Community Care Facility for the Elderly2.4%
Other Amusement & Recreation Industries1.4%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Newspaper classified ads, Internet job listings, and word of mouth may also provide job leads. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Dishwashers.

  • Cafes
  • Casinos
  • Diners
  • Fast Food Restaurants
  • Hotels
  • Restaurants

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

Promotional opportunities for Dishwashers in most food and beverage service establishments are limited. However, experienced Dishwashers may become prep cooks or food servers. With additional education and training from vocational or culinary schools, Dishwashers may become sous, pastry, or master chefs.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Dishwashers with links to more information.

Dining Room and Cafeteria Attendants and Bartender HelpersProfile
Packers and Packagers, HandGuide
Waiters and WaitressesGuide

Other Sources

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SOC - Standard Occupational Classification35-9021
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)RCE