The Highest-Paying Restaurant Jobs for Employees

by Megan Torrance

Pinpointing the highest-paid positions in the restaurant industry isn't easy. Salaries typically depend on the overall success of the business, which can vary significantly. A restaurant's location, customer base and popularity are among the most influential factors. Usually, the highest-paying jobs are in successful, upscale restaurants in the wealthiest neighborhoods.

Executive or Head Chef

A head chef is in charge of directing staff and participating in meal preparation, but he's still a restaurant employee. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, executive chefs earned a median annual income of $46,570, as of May 2012. New York was the top-paying state, at an average $59,730 per year. Those employed by the federal executive branch received an average yearly salary of $65,550.

Pastry and Sous Chefs

Pastry and sous chefs usually work in fine-dining establishments, though their salaries vary. Pastry chefs generate the greatest earnings in private clubs and organizations, making anywhere between $33,000 and $70,000 per year. Sous chefs start off at around $33,088 annually, but expertise or a different employer could result in a salary of up to $111,020 each year.

Wine Steward

Wine stewards usually work in hotel dining rooms or high-end restaurants, representing and serving wine, spirits and other alcoholic beverages. These positions make over $30,000 each year and may receive tips. Experts gain recognition by taking sommelier courses and receiving certification. Attaining master sommelier status -- only 211 had that credential, as of 2011 -- can lead to salaries of $160,000 or more per year.


Along with location and business impacts, a bartender's personality and skill can greatly increase his income. Bartenders earn an hourly rate that typically ranges from $7.60 to $15.14, plus tips. The BLS reported Hawaii as the top-paying state for bartenders, who earned an average annual salary of $33,190. Employer and location can make all the difference; the "Daily Meal" noted that bartenders in the Plaza's Oak Bar in New York can earn $70,000 per year.

About the Author

Based in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, Megan Torrance left her position as the general manager for five Subway restaurants to focus on her passion for writing. Torrance specializes in creating content for career-oriented, motivated individuals and small business owners. Her work has been published on such sites as Chron, GlobalPost and eHow.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images