What Will My Salary be with a Culinary Arts Degree?

What Will My Salary be with a Culinary Arts Degree?

Apr 12, 2015 | 10:00 am

With all the passion going into cooking, food and culinary show these days, the general expectation is that this is a well-paid profession that can suit a lavish, perfectly provided lifestyle. The truth is a bit bitter; namely, that having a culinary degree from a university is not the end-all accomplishment of this field. For that matter, it doesn’t bring all the success you hear about on TV.

Your starting salary for culinary arts will be around $35,000 and the more experience you have, the bigger your salary can get. If you have nothing, but a degree and not an hour to your name in a working environment, you have an uphill battle.


Recent calculations in the U.S. put the sum closer to $45,000, but that is for main cooks and chefs; surely, the secondary cooks, kitchen assistants, etc. will receive much less. Becoming a chef or a head cook will take a significant amount of experience. Naturally, payment varies according to other factors as well. For example, your location counts. If you are in the center of a big city, you will most likely be paid more regardless of your position.

Individual restaurants pay much more than chain restaurants. Five stars hotels have specialized chefs, whose salaries can peek up to $91,000 a year, so the more independent the facility, the better the payment and the harder the hiring process will be. The highest calculated culinary position is neither in a hotel or a restaurant, but in country clubs where the average annual salary for culinary arts can be $81,000.

The latest salaries correlate to the position held in the kitchen.

Different chefs merit different salaries. The chef-owner is always paid the highest; his or her salary can reach as far as $80,000 and the position still remains the most highly paid even though its payment has been solidly declining over the last several years. The executive chef, whose job is to handle the overall work flow in the kitchen is the second highest-paid position and the numbers with this job go as high as $75,000. The payment for it is getting lower, but the rank of the profession’s prestige remains. The so-called chef de cuisine, which is capable of replacing the executive in the time of need, is in charge of training new staff and preparation of food. The salary of the chef de cuisine on an average basis is usually $55,000.

The sous chef is the second in charge of the preparation of the meals in the kitchen after the chef de cuisine. His or her salary is much lower, about $41,000 a year and his or her job is a bit more nerve-wracking as it involves reporting the progress to the executive chef directly. The pastry chef works more individually and he or she is responsible of creating all the baked meals and the desserts. The salary for this position is slightly higher, usually $47,000 annually. Lower salary for culinary arts is always possible, if you are working as a cleaner in the kitchen or just a kitchen assistant who is transporting goods from one place to another. All in all, the aforementioned salaries are the highest you can get paid when working in a kitchen. For your own advancement potential think skill sets, experience and a competitive educational background.