Food and beverage servers (NOC 6513)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

Food and beverage servers work in restaurants, hotels, bars, pubs, private clubs and banquet halls. They take food and drink orders and serve them to customers. They may also seat customers and assist with takeout orders.

Watch the video below to see what a day in the life of a food and beverage server is like.

Common job titles
  • banquet server / waiter / waitress
  • dining car steward / server
  • headwaiter / headwaitress
  • server
  • steward
  • waiter / waitress

Duties

Food and beverage servers perform some or all these duties:

  • Greet customers, give them menus and seat them at a table
  • Make food and drink suggestions and answer the customer’s questions
  • Take food and beverage orders and give them to the kitchen or bar staff to prepare
  • Serve food and drinks
  • Accept and process credit card, debit or cash payments
  • Order and maintain inventory of wines and glassware
  • Taste-test wines or new food items in order to provide recommendations to the customers

Work environment

Food and beverage servers work in a variety of places—from casual pubs to formal restaurants and even as a caterer for weddings, parties or company meetings. People in this job may work indoors or outdoors depending on their workplace and the season. Some food and beverage workers might work on patios during the summer in B.C.

Work hours can vary. Shift work and shifts split between regular mealtimes are common. Those in this career may need to work evenings, weekends and holidays when people are more likely to go out or attend events that are catered.

Food and beverage servers may need to work faster than usual during busy mealtimes or during a catered event. They may also have to deal with difficult customers or situations.

People with this job may risk injuries, such as hurting their wrists or arms from carrying orders or experiencing back pain from heavy lifting and standing for long periods of time. They may also be at risk for falls on slippery floors, burns from hot liquids, damage to hearing from loud noise, or illness from contact with the public. Additionally, people in this job may experience unwanted attention or even sexual harassment. They may also have to address problems that could happen because a customer has had too much alcohol.

In recent years, working conditions have greatly improved because of the introduction of new bylaws and restrictions through programs such as FOODSAFE, Serving it Right™ and organizations like WorkSafeBC. If a server’s supervisor or company is not able to ensure a safe work environment, WorkSafeBC’s Teleclaim is able to support the worker by advocating for their protection.

Insights from industry

As a result of some food and beverage server positions being part-time and entry-level work, this may be a good job for students who are paying for their education or who are trying to earn extra money. However, there are also many people who choose this as a career path and who see their role and the skills they use as an important part of a person’s dining experience.

People with excellent customer service skills are in higher demand for this job. Food and beverage servers who familiarize themselves with the food and drinks they serve will find it easier to be hired. A good memory is useful in this job.

Food and beverage servers should have strong communication skills. They will speak to a wide variety of people — with different personalities — and are expected to stay positive, upbeat and calm no matter what happens. They need to work well in a team and be proactive on their own. It is helpful if people in this job are organized and able to do many tasks while serving. It’s important to act and dress professionally for this job.

Servers often need to be strong enough to lift and carry heavy trays of food and beverages.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Food and beverage servers with experience can move into higher-paying positions at more formal or popular restaurants, pubs or other companies providing food and drinks. They may also move into supervisory or management positions, although this may require further education, such as the hospitality management program.

With additional experience, these workers may also choose to own and run their own businesses.

Additional resources