Food and Beverage Server
Food and beverage servers accept and serve customers' food and beverage orders in restaurants and bars.
In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.
The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:
Interest in copying to take orders and relay them to kitchen and bar staff; in performing sensory evaluation of wines; and in ordering and maintaining inventory of wines and wine glassware
Interest in serving food and beverages to patrons
Interest in handling the preparation of specialty foods at patrons' tables
The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation.
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.
Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.
A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.
A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.
Food and beverage servers' duties vary considerably from one type of establishment to another. In fast food outlets, they often work behind counters and use computerized systems to take orders and tabulate bills. In coffee shops and cocktail lounges, they provide quick and efficient service for customers seated at tables. In formal dining establishments, they carefully observe established rules of service and etiquette, and pace the meal according to customer preference. In general, however, food and beverage servers:
Working conditions for food and beverage servers vary from one type of food and beverage establishment to another. Servers may be required to lift items weighing up to 10 kilograms.
Shift work and split shifts built around normal meal times are common in the food service industry. At busy times, food and beverage servers are constantly on their feet and under pressure to serve customers quickly. They take their own meal breaks between busy meal serving times.
Food and beverage servers need to possess:
Other requirements depend on the environment in which the server works. For example, serving in a coffee shop or cocktail lounge requires the ability to remember many orders and move very quickly.
Food and beverage servers should enjoy having clear rules and organized methods, working with people, and working with tools and equipment.
There are no standard education or training requirements for food and beverage servers. However, server intervention training, food safety training and food allergy training are definite assets when looking for employment.
Food and beverage servers who serve liquor must be at least 18 years of age. In formal dining rooms, food and beverage servers also must:
Many food and beverage servers start as food service helpers or kitchen helpers (for more information, see the Kitchen Helper and Food Assembler occupational profile). They then go on to learn the necessary skills and knowledge by observing more experienced workers and taking short courses such as server intervention and food safety courses. Some employers use self-instructional programs to teach new employees food preparation and service skills.
All staff involved in the sale and service of liquor in licensed premises (for example, owners, managers and supervisors, retailers, bartenders and servers, greeters and hosts, and security staff) must have ProServe Liquor Staff Training. This is a provincial government training program designed to ensure liquor service and sales activities are conducted with integrity and in a socially responsible manner. ProServe is available online, as a self-directed program of home study using a video and a manual, or by seminar.
In Alberta, food safety courses are offered by:
For a listing of approved food safety training options, check Alberta Health's Recognized food safety courses in Alberta list [pdf] or contact 780-427-7164.
The Government of Alberta awards a Food Sanitation and Hygiene Certification to those who complete approved training and achieve at least 70% on a provincial exam. Food facilities generally must employ at least 1 person who is certified. Where 6 or more people are working on site, at least 1 person present must be certified. Where fewer people are working on site, the certified person may be absent.
For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.
Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.
However, Tourism HR Canada (formerly the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council or CTHRC) offers a voluntary Food and Beverage Server certification. Recognized across Canada, this training, which leads to a Tourism Certified Professional (TCP) designation, is accessible from the emerit website.
Food and beverage servers are employed in restaurants, coffee shops, bars, clubs, hotels and other retail eating and drinking establishments. There are more part-time positions in this occupation than there are in most occupations, and most food and beverage servers are young.
Experienced food and beverage servers can move to better paying jobs in larger and more formal food establishments. They may advance to lead hand positions such as captain or head waiter/waitress, maitre d' hotel or other supervisory positions (for more information, see the Food and Beverage Service Supervisor in Formal Dining Rooms occupational profile). Although some larger organizations provide management training programs or training on the job for dependable workers who have leadership ability, related post-secondary education and emerit certification are definite assets for advancement.
In Alberta, 90% of people employed as food and beverage servers work in the Accommodation and Food Services (PDF) industry.
The employment outlook (PDF) in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:
Over 29,200 Albertans are employed in the Food and beverage servers occupational group. This group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.2% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 642 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover.
There is a relatively high employment turnover rate (particularly in lower priced restaurants) so job openings occur quite frequently. However, competition is keen for positions that offer the opportunity to earn more money in tips.
Food and beverage servers often are paid just above minimum wage, plus tips. (As of June 26, 2019, the minimum wage in Alberta is $15.00 per hour for most workers. For more information, see Minimum Wage.) Servers' incomes from tips are generally higher during peak periods such as summer or holiday seasons than in January and February. In many restaurants, food and beverage servers contribute a portion of their tips to a tip pool which is distributed among all servers, food service helpers, hosts/hostesses and bartenders.
Servers who provide superior customer service, particularly in restaurants where meal prices are higher, generally earn most of their income from tips.
|Wages*||Low (5th percentile)||High (95th percentile)||Average||Median|
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* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.
High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.
|Accommodation & Food Services||$20,345|
|Health Care & Social Assistance||$18,115|
|Other Services (Repair, Personal Services and Related)||$16,708|
|Information, Culture, Recreation||$15,933|
Canadian Association of Foodservice Professionals website: www.cafp.ca
emerit website: www.emerit.ca
National Restaurant Association [United States] website: www.restaurant.org
ProServe Liquor Staff Training website: www.proserve.aglc.ca
Restaurants Canada website: www.restaurantscanada.org
Tourism HR Canada website: tourismhr.ca
For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.
Updated Mar 27, 2017. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.