Salary, Wages, Pay: Chefs, Cooks, and Food Preparation Workers




Wages of chefs, cooks, and food preparation workers vary greatly according to region of the country and the type of food services establishment in which they work. Wages usually are highest in elegant restaurants and hotels, where many executive chefs are employed, and in major metropolitan areas.

Median hourly earnings of chefs and head cooks were $13.43 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $9.86 and $19.03. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.66, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $25.86 per hour. Median hourly earnings in the industries employing the largest number of head cooks and chefs in 2002 were:

Other amusement and recreation industries $18.31
Traveler accommodation 17.03
Special food services 13.98
Full-service restaurants 12.70
Limited-service eating places 10.49

Median hourly earnings of restaurant cooks were $9.16 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $7.64 and $10.93. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $6.58, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $13.21 per hour. Median hourly earnings in the industries employing the largest number of restaurant cooks in 2002 were:

Traveler accommodation $10.49
Other amusement and recreation industries 10.45
Special food services 9.77
Full-service restaurants 9.14
Drinking places (alcoholic beverages) 9.03
Limited-service eating places 8.08

Median hourly earnings of institution and cafeteria cooks were $8.72 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $7.06 and $10.83. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $6.10, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $13.34 per hour. Median hourly earnings in the industries employing the largest number of institution and cafeteria cooks in 2002 were:

General medical and surgical hospitals $10.01
Special food services 9.89
Community care facilities for the elderly 9.10