Career Definition of a Wine Service Professional
Many high-end restaurants employ sommeliers to manage their wine inventory and selection. Using a restaurant's wine list, sommeliers advise patrons on which wines they should order with their meals. In addition to the contents of the meal, they might also factor in customer preferences and price range. Since wine service professionals are typically employed by restaurants, they often work nights, weekends and holidays.
|Education||Coursework related to wine; college degree is not required|
|Job Skills||Culinary, sales and customer service skills|
|Median Annual Salary (2018)*||$54,240 for food service managers; $24,200 for retail salespeople|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*||9% growth for food service managers; 2% growth for retail salespeople|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A bachelor's degree from a college or university is not required to be a wine service professional. However, related courses and membership in a relevant professional organization may help aspiring sommeliers enter the field. Wine courses often include topics in food and wine pairings, wine making and tasting or marketing techniques.
Good sales and customer service skills are required for wine service professionals. Knowledge of wines is a given; culinary training or a familiarity with food preparation can be helpful.
Career and Salary Outlook
Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not report employment trends for wine service professionals, job outlook and salary data are available for food service managers and retail salespersons, who may sell wine. The BLS has projected an average 9% growth in employment for food service managers nationwide from 2016 to 2026. Employment in retail sales is expected to grow at a slower than average 2% rate during that same period. In 2018, the median annual wage of food service managers was $54,240, and it was $24,200 for retail salespeople (www.bls.gov).
Alternate Career Options
There are other careers in food services that you may be interested in, such as bartending or working as a chef. These careers will allow you to utilize your knowledge of wine and culinary skills.
Bartenders prepare mixed drinks and serve beer and wine to patrons who are of legal age. Responsibilities include knowledge of local and state alcohol laws, checking driver's licenses or other forms of identification and maintaining inventories. While most training is acquired on the job, individuals employed in high-end venues might pursue formal classes in bartending. Although it may be possible for 18-year-old candidates to obtain bartending positions, the majority of individuals working in the field are at least 25 years of age.
Between 2016 and 2026, job opportunities for bartenders across the country are expected to increase by 2%, according to the BLS. The median annual salary for bartenders in 2018 was $22,550 (www.bls.gov).
Chefs and Head Cooks
Chefs and head cooks prepare or oversee the preparation of, a variety of different foods, including fish, meats, soups and vegetables, among other dishes. Job duties can include maintaining food inventories, menu planning and recordkeeping. Although most professionals train on the job, cooking programs can also be found at culinary arts or technical institutes, community colleges or 4-year schools.
Ten percent, or faster-than-average, growth in employment is anticipated for chefs and head cooks nationwide between 2016 and 2026, as reported by the BLS. In 2018, chefs and head cooks received median yearly salaries of $48,460, also according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).