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Chefs and Head Cooks Pay Salary

The median annual wage of chefs and head cooks was $40,630 in May 2010. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,260, and the top 10 percent earned more than $70,960.

The median annual wages in the industries employing the largest numbers of chefs and head cooks in 2010 were as follows:

Traveler accommodation, including hotels and motels$47,350
Other amusement and recreation industries47,340
Special food services42,380
Full-service restaurants38,520
Limited-service eating places27,840

The level of pay for chefs and head cooks varies greatly by region and employer. Pay is usually highest in upscale restaurants and hotels, where many executive chefs are employed, as well as in major metropolitan and resort areas.

Most chefs and head cooks work full time, and they often work early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and holidays. Many executive chefs regularly work 12-hour days because they oversee the delivery of food products early in the day and use the afternoon to plan the menu and prepare any special items for dishes.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition