Workers reveal what it's really like to work at Taco Bell

When it comes to fast food Mexican, nobody dominates the market quite like Taco Bell. A 2018 Harris poll even found that it was the "favorite Mexican restaurant" in the United States. With such popularity, it's understandable that Yum! Brands is growing their Taco Bell empire, and this means hiring a lot more people to work for the Bell.

Taco Bell is growing so quickly, in fact, that it plans to add nearly 100,000 jobs by 2022 (via QSR Magazine). At that rate, Taco Bell might want to think about changing their slogan from Live Más to Work Más.

So what can a potential new Taco Bell employee expect when it comes to working for the fast food chain? In many ways, a job at Taco Bell isn't that much different than any other job at a chain fast food joint. Getting hired is usually easy and you may encounter some odd customers.

That said, there are a few things that differentiate working at Taco Bell from other fast food jobs, such as the educational opportunities and potential to actually make really good money as a restaurant manager. Here's what you should know about working for the maker of Doritos Locos tacos, the Quesarito, and so many other inventive fast food items.

Landing a crew job at Taco Bell is pretty easy

Securing an entry-level job on the crew at Taco Bell isn't the most difficult thing in the world, which is probably why it's a popular place for a person's first job.

There's also no need to pour over pages of internet job searches. Finding a job at Taco Bell is as easy as hitting up their website and plugging in your location. Chances are, the Taco Bell closest to you is hiring. One person on Indeed said that upon filling out their online location they were immediately notified that they had been selected for an interview the following day. Landing a job interview doesn't get much easier than that.

As far as the Taco Bell interview itself, well, let's just say it's not going to be a long and grueling process. The questions tend to range from asking prospective employees to tell a little about themselves to how they might handle certain job situations. Numerous people on Indeed described it as relatively short and even "relaxing" with them being either hired on the spot or shortly thereafter.

Taco Bell employees are clocked on their serving time

While nailing the Taco Bell job interview is a breeze, the demands of the job can at times be a little more challenging. With Taco Bell being fast food, "fast" is an aspect that factors into the job, and managers pay close attention to how quickly crew members are taking orders, assembling, and serving food.

According to one employee on Reddit, their Taco Bell when firing on all cylinders, served around "100-200 customers in the drive-thru" and "100 in the store" per hour. In order to make these customer service numbers, employees are clocked on their speed per customer.

Another employee on Reddit said that for an employee working the drive-thru, they were expected to take a customer's order and send them on their way in the span of three minutes and 30 seconds.

The one thing that really throws off this Taco Bell speed clock is when a customer places a huge order of a bunch of small items. "I always feel bad for people who order like one item or just a drink and have to sit behind three cars with 70+ items between them," the employee said.

Maybe consider cutting the Taco Bell employees a break and going inside next time you want 50 soft tacos.

The pay at Taco Bell is pretty average for a fast food job

Fast food jobs don't have a reputation for being especially high paying, and you won't get rich rolling burritos. According to Indeed, the average pay for a Taco Bell employee in a non-management position is $9.79 per hour — roughly $2.50 higher than the federal minimum wage.

The good news is that Taco Bell does give raises as well as promotions. A former employee on Reddit said it all boiled down putting solid effort into the job. "If you stand out, you'll get it. I worked at Taco Bell for 14 months and I went from $8 to $13." That's a pretty sweet pay bump in a relatively short period of time.

Employees can also make a little more if they climb the ranks with shift managers making an average of around $12 an hour and general managers making over $16 per hour.

By and large, the determining factor to how much a person makes starting out at Taco Bell mostly depends on the rate set by the franchisee. Taco Bell makes this known on their online job applications stating, "Franchisees are independent business owners who set their own wage and benefit programs..."

Taco Bell employees seem to back up this statement with some saying their franchise location had a policy of yearly raises. Others on Indeed said they were getting raises anywhere from every few months to... never.

Some Taco Bell managers can make a six-figure salary

Store managers are the captains of the Taco Bell ship and are responsible for keeping order and making sure a particular restaurant is hitting sales goals. It's no doubt a tough job and if you're tasked in charge of running a Taco Bell you could probably expect to make around $47,000 a year (via Indeed).

If you've got what it takes, however, and are working at the right Taco Bell, you could be making a whole lot more. In early 2020, Taco Bell announced that it would be paying some of its store managers a salary of $100,000 a year. Holy guacamole!

Here's the catch, remember how we mentioned that it's franchise owners who set the pay rates for their employees? Well, this six-figure salary only applies to corporate-owned Taco Bell restaurants (via Fox Business). The big reason for paying some managers the six-figure salary is that Taco Bell wants to hold on to good talent and nothing keeps people from looking for greener pastures quite like money. 

Over 90 percent of Taco Bells in the United States are owned by independent franchisees, so finding one willing to pay $100,000 could be tricky, but they're out there (via The Balance Small Business).

Taco Bell's corporate jobs have some pretty cool perks

Is working for Taco Bell's corporate offices in sunny southern California like partying at a music festival? Probably not most days, but their corporate promo video sure would make you think so. With the video's soundtrack of high-energy electronic music and endless quick-cut edits, working at Taco Bell's corporate offices looks like a blast.

According to The Muse, the Taco Bell offices are outfitted with Foosball tables, and employees can opt for the standard desk or working on the couch in the "Boom Boom Room." There's also an on-site gym, dry-cleaning, and yes... a nail/hair salon. Because you can't market Mexican fast food if your nails aren't looking fresh, right?

As for getting a job as a global marketing manager or digital analyst, it's going to be a little tougher than landing a job in the restaurant. Those that do work for Taco Bell's headquarters in Irvine, California can enjoy onsite childcare, four weeks of paid vacation, and of course — free Taco Bell. 

With those sorts of perks, it's no surprise it has a relatively high employee satisfaction rating on Glassdoor.

Serving people under the influence comes with the territory at Taco Bell

Working at Taco Bell and having to serve inebriated customers is just part of the job — especially for any employees stuck working the late-night shift.

Multiple Taco Bell employees have said that they had their fair share of interactions with some less than sober customers. "High/drunk people make up a solid percent of the people we serve," said one employee on Reddit. Another employee said that it wasn't uncommon for people to get in fights at the drive-thru lane or fall asleep before even picking up their orders. "People would pass out in their cars at the order speaker, but we didn't go outside once the doors were locked for security reasons, so we just had to call the cops and wait."

In US states where marijuana has been legalized, working the graveyard shift seems like something straight from a Cheech & Chong movie (via New York Post). One Taco Bell employee said that they had seen everything from a customer confusing them for KFC to a guy who regularly comes in and "pays almost 30 bucks for a bag of 24 tortillas."

As weird as some of the encounters may be, it's bound to make the night a little more interesting. "Surprisingly (or maybe not), stoned people make really good customers. They're mellow a lot of the time, and they become regulars more often than not," said an employee. 

Working at Taco Bell could pay your way through college

Besides the perks of being first in line to try whatever new creations roll out of the Taco Bell food lab, working at the Bell can provide employees with more than a paycheck.

Since 2015, Taco Bell has been helping employees pursue their educational and professional dreams through a host of programs with their Live Más scholarship program leading the way (via QSR Magazine). The scholarships range anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 per person and allow employees ages 16 to 24 to pursue their post-secondary academic goals. Unlike so many other scholarship applications, there's no essay or school grade evaluation needed, just a quick video from the applicant stating their passions. Awarded applicants can also apply for scholarship renewal for additional educational funds.

So far, millions in scholarships have been handed out and Taco Bell plans on boosting the Live Más scholarship program to $21 million in scholarships by 2021. 

The brand also has a GED certification program for employees who want to get their GED, as well as an employee retention program. For example, their Start With Us, Stay With Us campaign aims to help college students and employees fresh out of college shift into more long-term roles with the company. It seems to be working too, and in the first six months of the program, the brand saw a 30 percent retention in its workers.

Taco Bell employees scrambled to keep up with the demand for Doritos Locos tacos

Every blue moon, a fast food company strikes gold with a certain menu item that catches fire with the public and in no time flat, the brand is serving up its new item like gangbusters. In 2012, it was Taco Bell's moment to shine with the rollout of the Doritos Locos tacos.

"We saw it and knew, wow," Taco Bell's vice president of marketing, Stephanie Perdue told The Atlantic. "This is one of those eureka moments." It didn't take long for the Doritos Locos tacos to catch fire with the public and in no time flat, they were selling a million of them a day.

Just like the fast food phenomenon of the Popeye's chicken sandwich in 2019, Taco Bell employees scrambled to keep up with the demand for the tacos. "I empathize with them Popeyes employees, because I was working at Taco Bell when the Doritos Locos came out and whew! Talk about tired," said a former Taco Bell employee on Twitter.

The new tacos were such a hit that Taco Bell hired 15,000 extra workers to help with the taco frenzy (via Business Insider). "Apparently Taco Bell employees don't appreciate it when you order a dozen Cool Ranch Doritos Locos tacos," one customer said

Taco Bell pulled some of the Doritos tacos versions in 2019, so at least that gave employees some relief from the Doritos Locos mania.

Taco Bell employees regularly watch training videos

Nobody is born knowing how to perfectly assemble a Crunchwrap Supreme or roll a 7-Layer burrito — it's a learned art form. In order to make sure that Taco Bell employees can keep up with the rotating menu and assemble food orders correctly, training videos are a regular part of the gig.

"There is also a video every month that you will watch to learn about new items or review safety and current product builds," a former employee and team trainer wrote on Quora. While one employee on Indeed did say that the "training process is frequently ignored" employees are compensated at their regular hourly rate for watching whatever training video is assigned to them. 

As for what some of those training videos look like, well, they're a combination of live-action and low-budget-looking early 2000s animation. Some of the videos also include quiz portions. For example, with a video detailing how a Crunchwrap Supreme is made, employees have three choices for how long it's supposed to be on the grill (via YouTube). Answer incorrectly and the animated Taco Bell trainer scolds you.

Yeah, making a fast food taco correctly is no joke. 

Taco Bell employees actually make most of the food

The rather simple list of ingredients that dominate the Taco Bell menu, compounded with the fact that it is fast food, could easily lead on to believe that microwaves and freezers are the only things in the kitchen area. While the cooking (and we use that term loosely) at Taco Bell isn't gourmet, the employees are involved in making your meal.

"We do everything. We fry everything, prep everything, make the food (no premaking food either), make the drinks..." said one employee before adding that they don't even have a mixer but whisk everything by hand.

Another employee went on to say that the beans aren't from a can, but are shipped dry and Taco Bell employees boil the water for them each day (via Reddit). As for the ground beef, well, that's one thing that Taco Bell seems to have a unique way of cooking.

One employee who worked there in the '90s, said the meat prep actually turned them off from eating there. "The one thing I distinctly recall was that the 'meat' came in preformed tubes, and I had to run it over some sort of grater," the former employee recalled. "It was beyond disgusting, watching it sluice through." More recent employees noted that this process has changed, fortunately.

While the preparation may be less than appetizing, a worker did state that they're "100 percent required to wear gloves on the line at all times." Whew, that's a relief.

They do their best to keep the bathrooms clean at Taco Bell

Nobody wants to eat at a restaurant that's dirty, and a dirty bathroom can really turn off customers. With fast food restaurants seeing such a high volume of traffic, keeping bathrooms clean definitely requires some diligence. For a place like Taco Bell where beans and cheese are a staple of so many of the menu items, well... let's just say the bathrooms take a lot of abuse.

As for how well the bathrooms are cleaned, that largely seems to vary from restaurant to restaurant. One Taco Bell worker told Reddit that "They are never very dirty" and "We clean them once to twice a day." *Sigh* If only that was the case for every Taco Bell. "The bathrooms are almost always awful," another worker said before going on to describe the various disgusting things they'd seen in there. "Seriously, it's enough to make me lose my faith in humanity."

Any restaurant, Taco Bell included, is only as good as the person managing it, and as another Taco Bell employee pointed out, if the bathroom is dirty it's probably because a clean restroom isn't at the top of the manager's to-do list. "When I started the bathrooms were always clean, and as we went through managers various times it slowly became less of a priority," the employee said.

Good coworkers and managers make all the difference at Taco Bell

Fast food can be tiring and hectic work and if your coworkers aren't pulling their own weight, it only makes that job that much more exhausting. Reviews on job sites like Indeed are littered with both good and bad reviews of working at Taco Bell, and if there was one aspect that could make or break a person's job experience it was the people they worked with.

Several folks on Quora reiterated just how crucial the coworkers were for a good experience working at Taco Bell. "Co-workers can be great and show up every shift and do their jobs, or they can call off frequently and not do much when they manage to show up," said one former employee. While one employee on Indeed said their managers were "great" other former employees, however, said they had a "horrible" experience and generally summed it up as being the result of bad managers and apathetic employees. 

Taco Bell's own corporate video culture paints the job as a fun and energetic environment with employees citing their coworkers as being like a "second family." If you're thinking about picking up a job at Taco Bell, perhaps scouting out a location first and paying attention to how the employees interact with each other isn't a bad idea.