Top Paying Culinary Careers

Cooking and food aficionados may be interested in pursuing a career in the kitchen. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, culinary career opportunities are expected to grow slower than most jobs between 2008 and 2018. Nevertheless, there should still be plenty of job opportunities for culinary professionals, since these jobs tend to have a high turnover rate. Those who hope to pursue positions at prestigious restaurants should prepare themselves for competition. Limited-service restaurants tend to provide the most food preparation and supervisor positions, although the pay is not nearly as lucrative, with a $30,060 average annual income as of 2008.

  1. Executive Chef

    • A career as an executive chef is the dream of many lovers of the culinary arts. Unfortunately, job openings are hard to come by and even harder to snatch. According to a 2008 article at US News, many executive chefs have extensive experience, with an average of 15 to 20 years in the business. Executive chefs who earned more than $100,000 per year had been in the industry for an average of 24 years. According to All Culinary Schools, the 2010 average annual income of the middle 50 percent of executive chefs was $57,471 to $87,563. Executive pastry chefs, who specialize in the preparation of pastries, baked goods and desserts, earned $47,756 to $71,559.


    • There are a variety of management culinary careers whose salaries tend to be in the higher range. Restaurant managers are in charge of the kitchen staff in restaurants, food service facilities, cafeterias and other dining environments. They are also responsible for interviewing and hiring new employees. The 2010 average annual salary of the middle 50 percent of restaurant managers ranged from $38,533 to $56,491. A background in culinary arts is also beneficial for those who wish to work in the hospitality business, since hotel managers often oversee restaurants in addition to hotels. The annual median salary for hotel managers ranges from $68,000 to $124,756.

    Food Scientist

    • For those who love food as well as science and technology, a career in food science may be an appropriate choice. Food scientists are responsible for developing new food products and designing food packaging and processing methods. A career in food science usually requires at least a bachelor's degree in agricultural science. Food scientist careers are quite lucrative, and job opportunities are expected to increase between 2008 and 2018. The average median salary for the food scientists as of 2010 was $49,862 to $75,800.

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