Food and beverage servers (NOC 6513)

High demand occupation

About this job

Food and beverage servers work in restaurants, hotels, bars, taverns, private clubs and banquet halls. They take orders for food and drinks and serve them to customers.

Want to learn more? Watch this WorkBC Career Trek video and see what it’s like to work in this type of career.

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Food and beverage server


People in this career must:

  • know the menu well and be familiar with the food and drinks they serve
  • have strong people skills to be able to engage and interact with customers
  • work well in teams and on their own
  • be organized and able to juggle many tasks while serving several tables at once
  • always dress and act professionally
  • have a good memory to be able to remember multiple orders
  • have a basic understanding of how to prepare food

Often servers need to have enough strength to lift and carry trays of food and beverages.

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

Duties

Food and beverage servers perform some or all of the following duties:

  • greet patrons, give menus to customers, make food and beverage recommendations and answer questions
  • take food and beverage orders and give them to kitchen and bar staff
  • recommend wines that match with customers’ meals
  • serve food and beverages
  • prepare and serve specialty foods
  • collect and process credit card, debit or cash payments for bills
  • may order and maintain inventory of wines and wine glassware
  • may taste-test wines

Work environment

Food and beverage servers work in a variety of establishments, including restaurants, hotels, bars, taverns, private clubs and banquet halls. Work may take place either indoors or outdoors, depending on the setting and the season.

Work hours vary depending on the type of establishment. Shift work and split shifts around regular meal times are common. Servers may also be required to work evenings, weekends and holidays, when people are more likely to dine out.

During busy times, servers may be put under pressure to work faster than usual. They may also have to deal with difficult customers or situations.

Risks include wrist injury from carrying orders, back injury from heavy lifting or standing for extended periods, sexual harassment, falling on slippery floors, burns from hot liquids, hearing damage from loud noise, and illness from contact with the public.

Working conditions have greatly improved in recent years with the introduction of new bylaws and restrictions through programs such as FOODSAFE and organizations like WorkSafeBC.

Insights from industry

Increases in the number of double-income families has led to higher disposable incomes and less time to make meals at home, which has contributed to families eating out more regularly. Growth in the tourism sector will also create more employment opportunities for this group.

The availability of part-time and entry-level work makes this occupation attractive to students who are either paying for their education or trying to earn extra money. Competition for jobs will be highest in fine dining establishments, where more money can be made. Those with excellent customer service skills will be in high demand.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

With experience, food and beverage servers can move into higher-paying positions at larger, more formal food establishments.

Opportunities to advance into supervisory or management positions are also possible, although further education, such as completion of a hospitality management program, may be necessary.

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

Additional resources