A WAITER could become a captain in two years, earning $1,500 to $2,000. Two years later, he could rise to assistant manager and, later, manager, drawing $1,800 to as much as $4,000 to $6,000.

That career path was outlined by Mr Cheong Hai Poh, president of the Food and Beverage Managers' Association, in citing the opportunities in the sector.

The association and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency held a career clinic at VivoCity shopping mall yesterday.

Mr Cheong's personal estimate was that 30 per cent of Singapore's 6,000 or so food and beverage establishments are hiring. "In the next 10 years, the career (market) in tourism and F&B will be very strong."

Speaking to reporters at the event, Minister of State for Manpower Amy Khor said the industry is expected to grow despite economic uncertainty, offering careers "from rank and file to PME (professionals, managers and executives)".

She added that it is important to raise awareness of the industry and let Singaporeans know that "even if they start at the bottom, they can progress upwards".

The Government tightened quotas for foreigners in the service sector this year. It has also said it may tighten the inflow of mid-skilled S-Pass holders.

At the one-day event, six employers and three training organisations had booths on job and training opportunities.

Fairmont Singapore and Swissotel The Stamford, for instance, had openings for bartenders to assistant F&B managers.

Said Mr Cheong: "People need to understand that this is a profession you can pursue as a career. It's not just carrying a tray."

There were 91,264 workers in the F&B service industry in 2010.

Yesterday, hospitality students from Republic Polytechnic (RP) showcased their F&B service skills, while industry workers - some of whom had made the leap from other fields such as engineering - shared their stories.