By Angela Rose, Hcareers.com
If you want to work in an often creative, always fast-paced culinary environment, a job within the restaurant industry may very well represent the career of your dreams. Opportunities are plentiful—in fact, the industry is the United States' second largest private sector employer, accounting for nearly 10 percent of country's workforce. The National Restaurant Association predicts that 14.3 million professionals will work within restaurants by 2022.
While some restaurant positions always seem to turn up on “lowest paying jobs” lists, others prove to be quite lucrative. Consider the following highest paying roles.
A professional sommelier helps restaurant patrons choose the best wine to go with their meal, though many are knowledgeable on beers, ales and ciders as well. According to survey results from StarChefs, the average reported salary for this typically high-end restaurant role is $52,700 per year, though some professionals report earning as much as $100,000 annually.
The general manager is responsible for proper functioning of the entire restaurant. The professional in this position hires and oversees employees, monitors product inventory and ordering, deals with the budget and payroll, and creates the staff schedule. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual pay for a restaurant general manager is $48,130, though the top ten percent earn more than $80,410 per year.
The executive chef is essentially the creator of everything savory you see on the menu. This professional develops recipes and designs the plating along with supervising and coordinating the rest of the kitchen staff. The BLS reports that the median annual pay for an executive chef is $40,630. The top ten percent in the nation earn more than $70,960 each year.
The sous chef is the executive chef's second in command. This professional assists in supervising the other kitchen staff as well as preparing menu items. The BLS lumps executive chefs and sous chefs together in their salary calculations, reporting an annual median salary of $40,630. Again, the top ten percent earn more than $70,960.
Pastry chefs are responsible for producing a restaurant's pastry and dessert offerings. A 2012 survey conducted by a salary research source reports the average annual wages of an executive pastry chef to be $59,300. As with any restaurant position, experience can lead to higher pay.
The maître d is responsible for overseeing the restaurant staff handling reservations and seating as well as the servers. One salary research source reports that the average annual salary of a professional in this role is $36,500. However, this amount does not include tips, so we can assume that the actual yearly earnings of a maître d are potentially much higher.
One of the factors that make restaurant jobs so appealing to many is the opportunity for on the job training—with real world experience often valued above classroom education. Sure, a dishwasher, busser or server may have a less glamorous salary than a general manager, but hard work and dedication can really pay off. In fact, one survey by the National Restaurant Association found that 80 percent of restaurant owners got their start in an entry-level position.
Read more restaurant career tips. Find more restaurant jobs by visiting the career center.
About the Author
Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for Hcareers.com.