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10 of the Highest Paying Restaurant Jobs in 2023

A restaurant manager discusses the table arrangements in a restaurant
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The food service industry in the US is set to reach $997 billion in sales in 2023. We are here to help you become a part of this blooming industry and have your piece of the “$997 billion” cake.

An intro stat visualized
[Source: Touch Bistro]
We’ve curated a list of the best-paying jobs in restaurants in 2023.

We’ll share average salaries and the education and experience required for each, plus compare salaries in the states with the highest concentration of restaurant career opportunities—New York City, Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles.

10 Best-Paying Jobs in Restaurants in 2023 [US Salaries]

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary in full-service restaurants across the U.S. is $32,100, while some of the highest-paid positions offer around $100,000 per year.

A graph showing salary ranges for the 10 best paying jobs in the restaurants
[Source: OysterLink Salary Data]
Here are the 10 best-paying jobs in restaurants in 2023:

1. Host/Hostess

Serving as the first point of interaction with customers in a restaurant, a host or a hostess welcomes guests, leads them to their tables, addresses their requests, manages the seating chart, distributes tables evenly among servers and oversees wait times.

In addition, a host or a hostess handles takeaway orders and payments and assists with other restaurant activities, including silverware folding, cleaning or stocking.

  • Hostess average salary: $43,000
  • Education required: A high school diploma.
  • Experience: Prior hotel or restaurant experience is a plus when applying for the position.

2. Kitchen Manager

Supervising the entire kitchen operation, including food preparation and cooking, storage and deliveries, a kitchen manager creates menus, coordinates food orders, manages inventory and plans staff schedules.

  • Kitchen manager average salary: $58,000
  • Education required: A high school diploma, a culinary school certificate or a bachelor’s degree in restaurant management.
  • Experience: Prior experience in kitchen management and health and safety regulations is required.

3. Restaurant Server

A restaurant server waits on tables, answers questions about the restaurant’s menu, recommends specials, takes drink and food orders, delivers food to guests and runs the payment at the end of the meal.

When needed, a server also helps with table rearrangement and restaurant cleaning.

  • Average salary: $45,000
  • Education required: No specific education is required, although high-end restaurants may request a high school diploma.
  • Experience: Prior experience in hospitality or retail is considered an advantage.

For more information about this position, check out our detailed guide on a restaurant server’s job description, or prepare yourself for an interview by running through our restaurant server interview questions.

4. Sous Chef

Combining cooking and managerial responsibilities, a sous chef works directly with the executive chef in the kitchen.

A sous chef helps design the food and drink menu, manages inventory and supplies and makes sure kitchen employees follow food hygiene regulations.

  • Sous chef average salary: $45,000
  • Education required: An associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts.
  • Experience: Prior experience as a restaurant manager or a food service manager is required.

5. Pastry Chef

A pastry chef is in charge of preparing and decorating baked goods, cookies and desserts, whether in a restaurant, coffee shop or bakery.

This type of chef may also create new recipes, provide tasting samples for events and handle inventory.

  • Average salary: $47,900
  • Education required: A General Educational Development (GED) certificate or a high school diploma for an entry-level role. A certification in baking, culinary arts or pastry-making for non–entry-level pastry chef positions.
  • Experience: Prior experience as a baker or a pastry chef is preferred.
An image of a pastry chef decorating desserts in the kitchen
A pastry chef’s responsibilities include the preparation of desserts and baked goods

6. Line Cook

A line cook manages a specific station in the process of food preparation, such as grilling, frying, roasting or saucing, following a restaurant’s recipes.

In addition, a line cook makes sure all food sanitation laws for storing and handling food are closely observed.

  • Line cook average salary: $47,000
  • Education required: A high school diploma and a culinary school certificate. Some states may require a handler safety certificate.
  • Experience: Prior experience in cooking and food preparation is preferred.

A kitchen includes several types of cooks – check out our guide on a line cook vs. prep cook to determine the difference and which position you’d prefer!

7. Bartender

A bartender recommends beverages, prepares and serves classic or modern alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks for guests, restocks supplies, manages inventory and processes transactions behind a bar.

A bartender is also responsible for verifying age requirements before serving alcohol and observing customers for signs of excessive drinking.

  • Bartender average salary: $48,000
  • Education required: Although it is not necessary to have a degree to become a bartender, classes at a vocational school can be beneficial for your job application.
  • Experience: Knowledge and skills in preparing and serving drinks is required.

Dive deeper into a bartender’s job description, salary and more by checking out our detailed guides.

An image of a smiling bartender preparing a cocktail
A bartender is in charge of preparing and serving drinks to restaurant guests

8. Restaurant Manager

The duties of a restaurant manager include hiring and training restaurant staff, planning menus, managing budgets, creating staffing rotas, handling customer complaints and promoting the business.

A restaurant manager also makes sure employees follow health and safety regulations, manages inventory and creates financial reports. In larger restaurant chains, the restaurant manager may report to the director of restaurant operations.

  • Restaurant Manager average salary: $51,000
  • Education required: A General Education Diploma (GED) or a high school diploma. A degree in hospitality management degree can give you an advantage over the other candidates.
  • Experience: Prior managerial or supervisory experience is typically required.

9. Executive Chef

An executive chef, referred to as a head chef or a chef manager, creates or modifies menus, plans and manages food preparation and adds the final touch to the dishes.

In addition, an executive chef recruits and trains kitchen staff, manages budgets, orders kitchen equipment and more.

  • Executive Chef average salary: $64,000
  • Education required: An associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts.
  • Experience: Prior experience in a head chef position is typically required.
An image of a chef putting the final touches on a dish
An executive chef’s responsibilities include creating menus and managing food preparation

10. Sommelier

An expert in both wine and food pairing, a sommelier selects wines, creates wine lists, presents wine to customers, manages stock and negotiates prices with vendors.

A sommelier organizes and manages wine-tasting events, selects the proper glasses for different types of wines, ensures wine is served at the right temperature and supervises proper storage of open wine bottles.

  • Average salary: $73,000
  • Education required: Although there are no strict educational prerequisites to apply for a sommelier position, a credential from a professional association like the International Sommelier Guild or an associate degree in wine technology are seen as advantages.
  • Experience: Prior experience in hospitality is preferred.

High-Paying Restaurant Jobs in New York City, NY

With over 28,100 restaurants as of 2023, New York is heavily dependent on restaurant employees.

The Statue of Liberty in the background and a claim that there are 28,000 restaurants in NY
[Source: IBIS World]
Compared to the national average base salary, employers in New York City offer 19% higher pay.

  • Host/hostess: $51,000
  • Kitchen manager: $51,000
  • Restaurant server: $53,000
  • Sous chef: $53,000
  • Pastry chef: $54,000
  • Line cook: $56,000
  • Bartender: $57,000
  • Restaurant manager: $60,000
  • Executive chef: $77,000
  • Sommelier: $89,000

High-Paying Restaurant Jobs in Miami, FL

Foodies from all over the world travel to Miami for its culinary scene. The salaries for restaurant jobs in Miami are about equal to the national average.

  • Host/hostess: $43,000
  • Kitchen manager: $43,000
  • Restaurant server: $45,000
  • Sous chef: $45,000
  • Pastry chef: $46,000
  • Line cook: $48,000
  • Bartender: $48,000
  • Restaurant manager: $51,000
  • Executive chef: $65,000
  • Sommelier: $73,000

High-Paying Restaurant Jobs in Chicago, IL

Chicago boasts approximately 7,300 restaurants, including 26 Michelin-starred restaurants, 7 AAA Diamond-rated restaurants and 54 Bib Gourmand winners.

The restaurant salaries in Chicago are about 11% higher than the average salary across the U.S.

  • Host/hostess: $48,000
  • Kitchen manager: $47,000
  • Restaurant server: $50,000
  • Sous chef: $50,000
  • Pastry chef: $51,000
  • Line cook: $53,000
  • Bartender: $53,000
  • Restaurant manager: $56,000
  • Executive chef: $72,000
  • Sommelier: $81,000

High-Paying Restaurant Jobs in Los Angeles, CA

There are over 24,000 restaurants in Los Angeles, which makes the city popular among both foodies and restaurant professionals alike.

An image of LA in the background and a claim that there are 24,000 restaurants in LA
[Source: CDC]
In Los Angeles, you can earn a salary that is 12% higher than the national average income for the same positions.

  • Host/hostess: $49,000
  • Kitchen manager: $48,000
  • Restaurant server: $50,000
  • Sous chef: $51,000
  • Pastry chef: $52,000
  • Line cook: $53,000
  • Bartender: $54,000
  • Restaurant manager: $57,000
  • Executive chef: $72,000
  • Sommelier: $82,000

How To Find the Best-Paying Jobs in Restaurants with OysterLink

Are restaurants a good career path? Our list of the best-paying jobs in the industry gives you a glimpse of what a restaurant career offers. If you’re also interested in working for hotels, check out another list we curated.

From casual dining to upscale fine dining restaurants, you can build the career you want—with us.

If you’re looking for new job listings in the restaurant industry, or you’re an employer searching for new talent, you’ve come to the right place. OysterLink connects restaurant talent with employers looking to fill roles.

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