Culinary jobs range widely in salary. There are several factors that will affect how much you make as a chef or in other culinary jobs. The list below shows some of these factors and how they affect your culinary job earnings.
• Location. Where you work will have a large impact on how much you earn in the culinary field. Large urban areas offer higher salaries than small towns. Of course, the cost of living in these areas is much higher, so it is possible that you will have a higher standard of living in a smaller city than in a larger one, even on a smaller salary.
• Education. Where you trained and the amount of schooling you have will have an impact on what you earn in most cases. The more diversified your education, the more jobs you will be able to apply for, and the more chances you will have to earn higher salaries. For example, if you have some business education in addition to your culinary training, you may be able to obtain a managerial job in a restaurant, which usually pays more than a kitchen position alone.
• Type of company you work for. If you work for a small restaurant, you will probably make less than if you work for a larger company. Of course, this is not always true; some very elite small restaurants pay more, but in general large corporations such as hotel chains can pay more than family-owned businesses.
• Work history. Where you have worked may be as important as any other factor in the culinary arts field. This is why some people with “intern” or work for almost no pay at a famous restaurant; by putting this employment on their resumes, they are able to secure much higher-level positions than they would be able to secure without that reference.
Culinary salaries are notoriously difficult to predict because the factors that affect the pay you receive for these jobs varies so greatly from one job to the next. However, information compiled from sources such as Salary.com and the Occupational Statistics Survey of the federal government suggest that the following salaries are median estimates for certain culinary jobs.
• Line assistant or food preparation assistant. An entry-level position in most moderately-sized kitchens earns between $18,000 and $27,000. This translates to a salary slightly above minimum wage, at $9.00 per hour to $13.00 per hour. However, given that few of these jobs translate to 40-hour weeks, the actual hourly earnings are probably quite a bit lower.
• Cooking assistant. A newly-hired assistant in a moderately-sized kitchen is projected to earn between $22,000 and $28,000 per year. Because these assistants work very long hours in most cases and have few weekends or holidays free, this actually translates to just above minimum wage in terms of hourly pay.
• Sous chef. As you move up the ladder in the kitchen, your salary increases. Sous chefs have more responsibility and control in a kitchen and are often able to negotiate better working terms. Sous chefs earn, on average, between $33,000 and $53,000 per year.
• Restaurant manager. The manager of a restaurant has many responsibilities other than cooking: seeing to the accounting, ordering supplies, and handling employees are just a few of a manager’s many responsibility. Restaurant managers earn about $38,000 to $56,000 per year, depending on the restaurant for which they work.
• Executive chef. Head chefs are generally the best-paid people in a restaurant, and these chefs can earn between $56,000 and $86,000 per year.
No matter what job you are looking for in the culinary arts, there will be great variations in salary, so it is important to understand what the terms of your employment are before you accept any culinary job.
© Copyright CulinarySchoolCareers.org 2012. All Rights Reserved.