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Culinary and Food Service Job Descriptions

Culinary Career Earnings Potential

Employment Outlook for the Food Service Industry

Training for a Culinary Career

Working Conditions in Restaurants, Hotels and Resorts

Culinary Career Earnings Outlook

Find a Culinary
School Near You

While the wages of chefs, cooks, and other food service and preparation workers vary depending on geographic location, one thing is clear: working in an elegant restaurant or hotel generally produces a higher salary. This is partially because these types of establishments are likely to have executive chefs, and other highly trained workers.

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the US Department of Labor, median hourly earnings of head cooks and chefs were $14.75 in 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $10.71 and $20.28. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.28, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $26.75 per hour. Median hourly earnings in the industries employing the largest number of head cooks and chefs in 2004 were:

Miscellaneous amusement and
recreation services
$19.27
Hotels and motels 18.25
Eating and drinking places 13.57

Median hourly earnings of restaurant cooks were $9.39 in 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $7.79 and $11.13. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $6.76, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $13.37 per hour. Median hourly earnings in the industries employing the largest number of restaurant cooks in 2004 were:

Hotels and motels $10.69
Miscellaneous amusement and
recreation services
10.55
Eating and drinking places 9.34

Median hourly earnings of cooks in fast-food restaurants were $6.53 in 2000. The middle 50 percent earned between $5.90 and $7.53. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $5.49, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $8.43 per hour. Median hourly earnings in eating and drinking places, the industry employing the largest number of fast-food cooks, were $6.52 in 2000.

Median hourly earnings of short-order cooks were $8.11 in 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $6.90 and $9.92. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $5.97, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $11.50 per hour. Median hourly earnings in the industries employing the largest number of short-order cooks in 2000 were:

Hotels and motels $8.66
Miscellaneous amusement and
recreation services
7.94
Eating and drinking places 7.57
Gasoline service stations 6.87
Grocery stores 6.60

Median hourly earnings of institution and cafeteria cooks were $9.10 in 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $7.20 and $11.22. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $6.08, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $13.72 per hour. Median hourly earnings in the industries employing the largest number of institution and cafeteria cooks in 2004 were:

Hospitals $10.38
Special Food Services 10.11
Nursing and personal care facilities 9.33
Elementary and secondary schools 9.04

Median hourly earnings of food preparation workers were $7.38 in 2000. The middle 50 percent earned between $6.28 and $8.81. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $5.67, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $10.65 per hour. Median hourly earnings in the industries employing the largest number of food preparation workers in 2000 were:

Elementary and secondary schools $8.14
Hospitals 8.12
Grocery Stores 7.90
Nursing and personal care facilities 7.56
Eating and drinking places 6.88


Next: Employment Growth for Culinary Careers