Are you working in food service yet hungry for a high-paying career? You don’t have to settle for an entry-level position. You can leverage your experience as a line cook, table busser, host, or waiter to land one of the best-paying careers in food service this year. How?
Below, we will examine a veritable buffet of career options that involve leadership, cooking, artistry, and technical savvy. No matter your interests, you can find a high-wage food service role that works for you.
The success of a restaurant often depends as much on its management as on the food it serves. If you’ve got a few years of experience under your belt, it’s time to dust off your restaurant manager resume.
To become a restaurant manager, an advanced education is usually not required, but a business degree can provide a lot of needed skills. What is really vital, however, is a deep understanding of the restaurant business and experience leading a team successfully.
Exceptional customer service is the primary responsibility of restaurant managers. They also need to manage the staff, their schedules, menus, and interactions with outside parties such as vendors. Restaurant managers can expect to make $50,000 to more than $80,000 per year, depending on the establishment.
Many people enter the food service industry because they have a love of food. If this is true in your case, working your way up the kitchen ladder to chef-dom may be the right course to pursue.
To become a chef, you don’t necessarily need an extensive education. You can begin as a restaurant line cook. If you show promise, you may be taught by or even apprenticed to the chef in charge of your kitchen. As your skills grow, you will be given more responsibility.
If you don’t want to leave things to chance interest by your chef, you can pursue a culinary education. One-year courses are available in specialties like baking or food production. To reach higher, you may obtain a bachelor’s degree in culinary science or hospitality. Then, there are additional certifications that teach specific skills and may help you obtain a higher-level position.
You can work your way up the kitchen hierarchy concurrently with your education. You might begin in a supportive role – wait staff, dishwasher, or kitchen porter, for example. From there, you may become a junior or assistant chef, senior chef, and deputy head chef. You may take on even more responsibility as the head or executive chef. With each promotion, your salary will increase. Various types of chefs can expect a salary range from $50,000 per year to well over $150,000.
There are also other specialized positions. For example, you may work as a personal chef for a wealthy client or a corporate chef developing menus for large events and overseeing the catering teams that prepare them.
The food service industry also requires a number of creative roles that don’t take place in the kitchen—at least not all the time. Food stylists make dishes look good in photographs, often by unconventional means. That golden-brown turkey, for example? Don’t eat it. It’s raw and bathed in iodine to obtain that rich golden color. And the syrup on those pancakes? It’s unused motor oil because it flows better than syrup for the camera.
Sometimes food stylists double as food photographers, while at other times they work alongside them. Food photographers must have a good grasp of photographic equipment and techniques, including lighting and photo editing. Neither position requires a degree, though certain courses of study (culinary arts or digital arts, for example) can lend important skills. Often, though, the necessary abilities are gained through personal projects and on-the-job training. Entry-level food photography jobs are often in the form of gig work.
Those entering creative roles can expect to make $30,000 to $40,000 per year, while veterans may make $60,000 to $80,000.
Today, there is an ever-increasing amount of technology for restaurants, from food preparation appliances to point-of-sale systems and beyond. Restaurant tech specialists navigate these cutting-edge technologies, installing them, maintaining them, and teaching staff how to use them. A background in information technology or computer science is preferred.
Some tech is aimed at responsible sourcing and reducing waste. Sustainable food service managers promote these methods and educate others about them.
Individuals in these technical roles can expect to make anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000-plus.
With a little effort, you can feast on the fortunes of five-star restaurants and niche establishments. When you hone your skills and put in the time to study and learn, you are sure to earn your just desserts in the food service industry in the form of a well-paying job you love. Bon appetite!