Food and Beverage Servers

Occupation:Food and Beverage Servers
Category:Sales and Service

About the job

Nature of work:

Food and beverage servers take patrons' food and beverage orders and serve orders to patrons. They are employed in restaurants, hotels, bars, taverns, private clubs, banquet halls and similar establishments.

Job duties:
Food and beverage servers perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Greet patrons, present menus, make recommendations and answer questions regarding food and beverages.
  • Take orders and relay to kitchen and bar staff.
  • Recommend wines that complement patrons' meals.
  • Serve food and beverages.
  • Prepare and serve specialty foods at patrons' tables.
  • Present bill to patrons and accept payment.
  • Order and maintain inventory of wines and wine glassware.
  • Perform sensory evaluation of wines.
Sample job titles:
  • banquet server
  • bar service waiter/waitress
  • cocktail waiter/waitress
  • food and beverage server
  • headwaiter/headwaitress - food and beverage services
  • sommelier
  • waiter/waitress - food and beverage services
  • wine server
  • wine steward

To work in these jobs, you should be friendly, well-spoken, well-groomed, and enthusiastic about the service. Good organizational and mathematical skills are necessary. You must be pleasant to both your customers and co-workers, even when working under pressure. The ability to remember details and orders is essential. You must also be able to move gracefully and quickly. Food and beverage servers are on their feet most of the time and often have to carry heavy trays of food, dishes, and glassware, requiring physical fitness and stamina. For some positions, knowledge of a second language is an asset.

Job requirements:
  • Completion of secondary school may be required.
  • Formal waiters/waitresses may require completion of a one- or two-year apprenticeship program or college or vocational school courses.
  • On-the-job training is usually provided.
  • Wine stewards may require courses in wine selection and service or experience as a captain waiter/waitress or formal waiter/waitress.
  • Responsible beverage service certification is usually required for employees serving alcoholic beverages.
Other considerations:

These jobs are heavily influenced by tourism activity; therefore, employment levels tend to vary throughout the year and peak in the summer months. Also, many job openings are created each year as workers in these positions change jobs. However, due to the limited entry requirements, there are often many people available to fill these positions. They may work 40 hours or more per week, and many are expected to work evenings, weekends, and holidays. Tips usually supplement the wages of people employed in these jobs.

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Good

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “good”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is better than average when compared to other occupations in Nova Scotia. This is a fairly large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities occur fairly regularly. The number employed in this occupation is expected to decline slightly over the next few years, which may affect the number of new opportunities available (yet overall job prospects are still considered good due to other factors). With a large percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are expected to be a key contributor to employment opportunities over the coming years. Food and Beverage Servers may either be working full-time or part-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs may either be permanent or temporary positions, as both are common. With employment conditions being seasonal in nature, periods of downtime or layoff throughout the year are fairly common. Also, a fair portion of the workforce is self-employed, so having the option to "work for yourself" may appeal to some individuals’ interests/motivations.

The median employment income for 23% of Food and Beverage Servers who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $20,266. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, 59% of those who worked full-time year round had a median employment income of $43,600.
(Source: 2016 Census)

OccupationEstimated employment in 2018Estimated change in employment between 2017 and 2019Estimated openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019Estimated rate of unemployment in 2018 Estimated hourly earnings in 2015 (learn more)Estimated annual earnings in 2015
Food and Beverage Servers4,440decline slightly55Moderate
Minimum: $11.00
Median: $12.00
Maximum: $20.00
Minimum: $2,992
Median: $11,065
Maximum: $24,708
Occupations in Sales and Service102,605Decline slightly5,260Moderate
Minimum: $10.70
Median: $12.50
Maximum: $21.17
Minimum: $2,949
Median: $16,629
Maximum: $45,086
Food and Beverage ServersCompared to: Occupations in Sales and Service
Percent employed full-time45%59%
Percent self-employed40%6%
Where will I likely work?
Area of EmploymentFood and Beverage ServersCompared to: All NS Occupations
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Cape Breton13%$10,38513%$32,974
Annapolis Valley11%$11,92013%$32,958
What are the workers like?
AgeFood and Beverage ServersCompared to: All Sales and Service
% Employed% Employed
Median Age2737
GenderFood and Beverage ServersCompared to: Occupations in Sales and Service
% Employed% Employed
EducationFood and Beverage ServersCompared to: All Sales and Service
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Less than high school11.9%$7,96418.8%$9,486
High school46.7%$16,57740.4%$12,982
Trades certificate3.5%$15,3308.0%$18,797
College certificate or diploma16.1%$16,87319.9%$19,514
University certificate or diploma2.2%x1.6%$18,279
Bachelor's degree17.4%$13,72710.0%$20,807
University advanced certificate or diploma0.7%x0.5%$15,716
Master's degreeN/Ax0.8%$20,769
Medicine, dentistry, veterinary, optometry0.2%x0.1%$17,368
Wage Disclaimer

Hourly earnings data are from the Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada. Data are not available for all occupations. Hourly earnings are calculated based on usual hours worked per week. This is how an annual salary, for instance, gets converted to an hourly rate. The data include full and part-time workers along with new and experienced workers. Self-employed workers are excluded.

Annual employment income data reported in the Work Prospects section, are from the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada. Much of the data (around 70%) came directly from tax records. The data relates to the year 2010 and includes total wages and salaries and net income from self-employment.


Employment Requirements & Contacts

No regulating bodies were found under this occupation profile
Useful contacts:
Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia
2830 Agricola Street Unit 1
Halifax, NS B3K 4E4
Tel: (800) 665-3463
Fax: (902) 429-0659
Nova Scotia Tourism Talent
2089 Maitland Street
Halifax, NS B3K 2Z8
Tel: (800) 948-4267
Fax: (902) 422-0184
Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Sector Council
2089 Maitland Street
Halifax, NS B3K 2Z8
Tel: (902) 422-5853
Fax: (902) 422-0184

Training Paths & Education

Program Name:Adult high school/secondary diploma programs
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the high school level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that defines the prescribed requirements, specified by the appropriate jurisdiction, for the completion of and graduation from a secondary school program of academic subject matter offered for adult learners outside of the regular secondary school program. This does not include adult compensatory education programs resulting in completion of a high school equivalency certificate or diploma.
See all institutions providing this program+
Universite Sainte-Anne
Siège Social: 1695, Route 1
Pointe-de-l'Église, NS B0W 1M0
(902) 769-2114
Nova Scotia Community College - Annapolis Valley Campus
50 Elliott Road
Lawrencetown, NS B0S 1M0
(902) 825-3491
Nova Scotia Community College - Cumberland Campus
PO Box 550, 1 Main Street
Springhill, NS B0M 1X0
(902) 597-3737
Nova Scotia Community College - Akerley Campus
21 Woodlawn Road
Dartmouth, NS B2W 2R7
(902) 491-4900
Nova Scotia Community College - Burridge Campus
372 Pleasant Street
Yarmouth, NS B5A 2L2
(902) 742-3501
Nova Scotia Community College - Kingstec Campus
236 Belcher Street
Kentville, NS B4N 0A6
(902) 678-7341
Nova Scotia Community College - Lunenburg Campus
75 High Street
Bridgewater, NS B4V 1V8
(902) 543-4608
Nova Scotia Community College - Institute of Technology Campus
5685 Leeds Street
Halifax, NS B3K 2T3
(902) 491-6722
Nova Scotia Community College - Pictou Campus & School of Fisheries
PO Box 820, 39 Acadia Avenue
Stellarton, NS B0K 1S0
(902) 752-2002
Nova Scotia Community College - Shelburne Campus
PO Box 760, 1575 Lake Road
Shelburne, NS B0T 1W0
(902) 875-8640
Nova Scotia Community College - Strait Area Campus & Nautical Institute
226 Reeves Street
Port Hawkesbury, NS B9A 2A2
(902) 625-2380
Nova Scotia Community College - Marconi Campus
PO Box 1042, 1240 Grand Lake Road
Sydney, NS B1P 6J7
(902) 563-2450
Nova Scotia Community College - Truro Campus
36 Arthur Street
Truro, NS B2N 1X5
(902) 893-5385
Additional resources:

There are no additional resources for this occupation.