Cooking enthusiasts who are skilled in food preparation and presentation might wish to explore careers as catering professionals. Caterers prepare, garnish and transport a wide variety of hot and cold food items to on- and off-premises banquets, meetings, parties and events. Caterer salaries differ greatly due to locational variances, reputation, experience and skill, but online career resources offer surveys and statistics to give you an idea of current industry wages.
Catering positions are classified under "Chefs, Head Cooks, and Food Preparation and Serving Supervisors" in the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010-11 Occupational Outlook Handbook and also fit into the "Food Preparation Workers" category of the bureau's 2010 Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. According to these documents, the average median salaries for food preparation workers, managers and serving supervisors was somewhere between $19,100 and $28,970 annually, as of 2011. The lowest 10 percent of these workers earned salaries ranging from $15,900 to $18,530 annually, while top earners took home between $46,810 and $28,450.
According to the Simply Hired website, in 2011 an average caterer's salary was about $26,000 per year. The CB Salary career and employment statistic website offers comparable information, reporting that, at the time of publication, caterers nationally made between $15,970 and $26,823 per year, with a median average of about $19,593.
Experienced caterers in management positions can earn a substantially higher income than general catering position holders. In 2011, the average salary range for catering managers was between about $24,000 and $54,000 per year. The CB salary website estimates that, nationally, a typical median average salary for an experienced catering manager is about $42,208 per year; this salary can extend beyond $57,352.
Variances and Considerations
Your salary as a catering professional may fluctuate according to your level of experience, marketing skills, where you live, and self-employment vs corporate positioning. According to the State University website, the median average salary range for catering professionals was between $32,000 and $75,000 per year in 2006, and actual wages were highly dependent upon the aforementioned factors. Location variances play a significant role in your income as well. For instance, CB Salary reports that in 2011, a caterer's salary in Los Angeles is generally about $46,344 per year, which is about $4,000 more than the national average. On the other hand, the same position in Wichita, Kansas, is only worth $39,591 — almost $3,000 less than industry standards.