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Cook in a Restaurant, Earn $19,000 a Year! And Average Salaries for 11 Other Food Service Jobs

Cook in a Restaurant, Earn $19,000 a Year! And Average Salaries for 11 Other Food Service Jobs

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Like employees in any industry, people who work in restaurants take home a wide range of salaries. What they make varies greatly, and we’ve tracked down the average salaries for 12 restaurant industry jobs.

Cook in a Restaurant, Earn $19,000 a Year! And Average Salaries for 11 Other Food Service Jobs (Slideshow)

Nobody will ever tell you that working in a restaurant (in any capacity) will be easy. Salaries are notoriously low, especially for those who are just getting their feet in the door, and because servers and bartenders are largely dependent on tips for their income, a couple of bad nights can spell the difference between paying the rent on time and having to sleep on somebody's couch. On the other hand, waiters and waitresses at some of the country’s most expensive restaurants, where average bills can stretch into the hundreds of dollars, can make six figures.

Aside from the restaurant’s owner (who might be making bank or not even paying him- or herself a profit, depending on how the restaurant is doing), the executive chef is usually the highest-paid employee — and rightfully so. Executive chefs lead the kitchen, plan menus, control inventory, and make sure that everything coming out of the kitchen is up to snuff, and while it’s a job that can bring glory, it’s anything but easy. On the other end of the spectrum, dishwashers tend to be paid minimum wage, or slightly higher.

In order to gather data on average salaries, we consulted websites, including,, and, that pull their information from salaries reported by employees themselves as well as data collected from HR reportings. So if you’re considering a career in restaurants (or are just curious about what the folks who work at your favorite local spot earn), read on to learn about the average annual salaries for 12 common restaurant industry jobs.


According to 967 reported salaries on Glassdoor, the national average for a bartender’s salary is $30,108.’s report is a bit less sunny, with a median salary of $18,318.

Busser reports that the national average busser salary is $14,000.

What Chef Salary or Chef Wages Can You Expect?

Working as a chef, you will find that different places of work will pay different wages for all the chef jobs available. You can earn a very good salary if you work at a luxury hotel for instance, and a basic wage if you get a job at a casual café or small pub.

With your extensive chef training, you must apply for the best possible job you can, and always remember that chef jobs allow for promotion, so that eventually you can work your way up to the executive chef or head chef positions which pays the most. Your salary can be paid hourly or monthly and you will also be eligible for certain benefits depending on where you work such a 401(K) retirement plan, health benefits, paid vacations, life insurance, and more.

Restaurants and Hotels: In a normal restaurant environment the executive chef has the opportunity to earn anywhere from $40,000 upwards, and in a five-star luxury environment you can earn up to $100,000 annually. The sous chef can earn between $60,000 and $80,000 annually, while the chef de partie can earn from $35,000 to $70,000 per year. The demi chef in a restaurant or hotel resort can earn chef wages in the region of $30,000 to $45,000. A commis chef makes a yearly chef salary of about $20,000 to $30,000. The chef salary for a pastry chef is around $4500 per month. Assistant cooks can earn various chef wages as do the food preparers for a hotel or restaurant. As an assistant cook you are looking in the region of $20,000 per year and food preparers can earn from $8,000 to $16,000 annually.

In the hotel and restaurant industry there is a lot of room for growth and plenty of opportunities to take advantage of. You will easily be able to work up to being a master chef in a few years. Once you have reached this position, you can even think about opening your own restaurant and make your own chef salary.

Catering and Retail: In the catering industry, you can expect to earn an average chef salary of $35,000 to $75,000 per year. The extreme low catering salary is around $22,000 while the high salary for an urban caterer with a high profile and elite clientele can reach $200,000. This all depends on the type of catering business, the areas you operate in, the clients you market towards, and the size of the catering company. The executive chef earns about $45,000 per year, while the sous chef makes about $35,000. The commis chef in a catering company can earn around $27,000 per year, and the chef de partie earns an average of $30,000. The demi chef earns between $25,000 and $30,000 annual chef salary. Assistant cooks make around $22,000 while food preparers also earn in this region.

In the catering business or retail industry, you will get great experience and this environment will help you greatly if you want to open your own business in catering or hospitality one day. Catering and retail also allows chefs to work in all kinds of locations for weddings, events and private functions which is great fun.

Social Service and Public Sector Positions: In the public service sector you have the chance to choose from a large number of chef jobs that will see you working in all kinds of places like fire stations, community centers, retirement villages, schools, hospitals, prisons, rehabilitation facilities, detention centers, and more. You can work at these public places as an executive or head chef, head cook, assistant cooks, kitchen manager, head caterer, catering manager and food preparers. There are not as many levels as in the restaurant and hotel industry or in catering, but there are lots of opportunities available and places to work. There are various chef wages that you can earn, but here are just some of the public sector salaries for chefs and cooks that you can get. Cooks at schools can earn from $10,000 – $22,000 and at a hospital, clinic, doctor’s rooms and hospices, you can earn from $22,000 to $27,000 on average.

At a retirement center you can work as a cook making around $12 per hour, while certain cafeteria positions in council buildings, auction houses, museums, and fire departments among others will offer about $24,000. In the correctional facilities department you can work as a correctional cook or assistant cook, catering and kitchen manager earning between $2,000 and $4,000 per month. Another public service job you can get in the cooking industry is in the military working for the air force, navy, or army. Here you can earn a nice sum of money up to $90,000 per year.

While some of the public or civil service jobs do pay less than at hotels and restaurants, it is a very good place to start your career and if you need to gain more experience as a cook or assistant chef, this is one of the best ways to do so. It is also perfect if you want to work for the government and serve your country, but still get experience in your passion and field of expertise.

Fast Food Industry: Working in fast food services may only appeal to some chefs and most of the time a short-order cook and diner cook, does not need to have as much experience as a gourmet chef does. A short-order cook will earn wages relative to where they work and usually by the hour. You can work as a short-order cook in the fast food industry in a diner, fast food outlet, grills, coffee shops, cafes, bistros, drive through food establishments, or take away restaurants. The chef salary you earn will also depend on your job description and the area in which you work. Some short-order cooks are also kitchen managers or general managers and will earn more than just a line cook. The average for a short-order cook to earn in the medium category is $9 per hour. This is according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor.

In fast food, besides the short-order cook, you can also get a line cook, grill cook and other kitchen staff positions. The following are cook salaries based on the average wages earned yearly in Seattle, Washington. A short-order cook earns $24,000, the line cook makes $22,000, and the grill cook earns about $19,000. In the fast food or food service industry you can also get a jobs as a kitchen manager or food service manager which will involve accounting, marketing and customers relations as well as well as cooking experience, enabling you to earn an excellent salary of $30,000 to $50,000 annually.

22 Restaurant Positions and Their Duties

By employing efficient self-ordering infrastructure , some restaurants manage to work with very small staff. But depending on your business model and the type of restaurant that you run, you may face the need of hiring more than 80 people on approximately 20 different positions. That is why, in order to make the correct judgments about the staff needed for the efficient operation of your business, you should, first of all, find out what people on different restaurant positions are responsible for:

1. General Manager

This is the most important position within your business when it comes to the operational part. General managers are those who focus on hiring/firing employees, training programs, PR and marketing, process optimization, etc. Consider them as the head of your restaurant.

Skills & Competence:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Solid experience

Median hourly wage: $18.00 – 23.00

2. Assistant Manager

As the job position suggests, assistant managers are responsible for helping the general manager with the execution of his tasks. They are often responsible for dealing with the paperwork, handling the training programs, taking part in brainstorming activities, helping with the decision-making processes, etc. When the general manager takes a day off, it is the Assistant who fills his position.

Skills & Competence (pretty much the same as those of the General manager):

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Experience (or in other words, the Assistant Manager is a less experienced General manager)

Median hourly wage: $18.00 – 20.00

Related: 5 Tips To Choose The Perfect Restaurant Name With 30 Examples

3. Executive Chef

If you aim at providing the best cuisine around town, then focus on finding the best executive chef out there. A good executive chef comes up with the meals on your menu. The great one helps you improve your overall service and tailor the food concept according to your restaurant’s needs. He also takes care of all cooking processes – from the preparation to the way it is served.

Skills & Competence:

  • Appropriate culinary education or degree
  • Solid experience
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Proactiveness

Median hourly wage: $35.00 – $55.00

Hint: When defining the salary budget for your business, make sure to get familiar with the overtime pay regulations , so that you can keep your employees happy and comply with the law.

4. Sous Chef

This is basically the second most important position in the kitchen, after the executive chef. Consider sous chefs as assistants to the main man. If the executive chef takes a day off, it is the sous chef that takes charge of the kitchen. Sous chefs must be experienced and with similar skill sets as the executive chefs.

Skills & Competence:

  • Appropriate culinary education or degree
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Ability to work under pressure

Median hourly wage: $24.00 – $40.00

5. Pastry Chef

Pastry chefs are responsible for the sweet treats in your menu. They develop recipes and prepares desserts such as cookies, cakes, souffles, crepes, mousses, etc. Consider hiring such if you have a big, casual restaurant. Otherwise, you may leave these duties to your other chefs, if they are experienced in pastry.

Skills & Competence:

  • Appropriate pastry education
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Ability to work under pressure

Median hourly wage: $25.00 – $36.00

6. Kitchen Manager

This is basically the general manager of the kitchen. The duties, related to this position are focused on hiring and firing personnel, process management and optimization, inventory management, etc. The kitchen manager should be able to form a cohesive unit that works as a team and has one main goal – to achieve high customer satisfaction.

Skills & Competence:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Previous management experience

Median hourly wage: $20.00 – $29.00

7. Food & Beverage Manager

This position is not so popular among the most restaurants as it is typical for the biggest ones. Food and beverage managers are responsible for inventory management (both for bar and kitchen products and supplies), monitoring whether the kitchen and the bar are in compliance with local health requirements and codes, as well as defining the menu items and the overall working processes within the restaurant (creating schedules for example).

Skills & Competence:

  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Team player
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Previous management experience

Median hourly wage: $28.00 – $39.00

8. Line Cook

This position is very important if you are running a bigger restaurant. The line cook handles various tasks that are intended to streamline the work of other cooks and the chefs. A line cook’s duties are related to taking care of one or multiple areas of the kitchen, thus ensuring the seamless and efficient work organization.

Skills & Competence:

  • Team player
  • Dynamic and efficient working habits
  • Organized and focused
  • Some experience in a professional kitchen

Median hourly wage: $10.00 – 14.00

9. Fast Food Cook

If you are running a quick-service restaurant , this position is one of the most important ones for the overall success of your business. Fast food cooks are required to work under pressure and be able to prepare orders as quickly as possible. They usually work with kitchen equipment such as grills, deep fryers, sandwich makers, ovens, etc.

Skills & Competence:

  • Team player
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Quick and efficient working manners

Median hourly wage: $9.00 – $11.00

10. Short Order Cook

As the name suggests, the people on this position are responsible for handling small orders for breakfasts or brunches. Short order cooks usually prepare salads, sandwiches, burgers or other types of light food that does not require significant time to prepare.

Skills & Competence:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Kitchen experience
  • Quick and efficient working manners

Median hourly wage: $12.00 – $16.00

11. Prep cook

The prep cook is the foundation of a successfully-run restaurant kitchen. Although employees on this position are not directly involved in the cooking processes, they are one of the main reasons why your dish is served so quickly. Usually, the prep cook position is typical for fine dining restaurants and its duties are related to the initial preparation of the ingredients needed for the menu items. Prep cooks are important when there is a high inflow of orders and chefs need to deal with them as quickly as possible. By having each ingredient initially prepared, meals are being cooked easily and in a timely manner.

Skills & Competence:

  • Quick and efficient working manners
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Fast learners

Median hourly wage: $12.00 – $15.00

12. Sommelier

If you are running a fine dining or a restaurant, for which wine is a focal point of the whole experience, hiring a sommelier is a necessity. His duties are related to purchasing wine, creating a fine wine list, consulting customers or servers about the different types of wine and suggesting suitable combinations.

Skills & Competence:

  • Formal education
  • Solid experience
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Excellent communication skills

Median hourly wage: $21.00 – $33.00

13. Server

If the host/hostess is the face of your restaurant, then the server is the heart. Good servers are usually those which can turn a not so pleasant customer experience into a great one and vice versa. Servers are responsible not only for taking orders and sending them to the kitchen and bar staff but to take personal care of each and every customer. This position requires a specific set of skills. A good server knows when he is needed and does not bother customers each and every 2 minutes to check whether everything is fine. On the other hand – the worse thing a customer can experience is to wait too long for the bill or to order. So make sure that your servers know the balance between both and can take care of your customers in a respective manner.

Skills & Competence:

  • Excellent memory
  • Quick and efficient working manners
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Easy-going person with a professional attitude
  • Knowledgeable and able to help customers
  • Solid experience

Median hourly wage: $3.50 – $12.00 (plus tips)

14. Runner

Some restaurants prefer to hire runners in order to make the server’s work more efficient and easier. The main responsibility of the runner is to get the meal from the kitchen, once it is ready, and to serve it to the customer as soon as possible. That way, the food arrives on time and at the appropriate temperature.

Skills & Competence:

Median hourly wage: $9.00 – $11.00

15. Busser/Bus person

This position is related to table cleaning and preparation. Once a client leaves and a table becomes free, it’s the busser’s responsibility to clean it and prepare it for the next customers. Servers usually delegate less complex and more time-consuming tasks to bussers, such as providing additional utensils, serving butter, bread or water, filling empty cups, etc.

Skills & Competence:

Median hourly wage: $7.00 – $9.00

16. Host/Hostess

The host/hostess is responsible for the customer’s first impression of your restaurant and service. Thus, hiring a cheerful person is essential, if you want to positively predispose your clients for their upcoming experience. The host/hostess usually greets your customers and takes them to their respective table. They also provide menus and assist with any initial information or questions that the clients may have. The people hired for this position are also responsible for answering the phone and making reservations.

Skills & Competence:

  • Highly organized
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Cheerful and easy-going person

Median hourly wage: $8.00 – $11.00

17. Bartender

A great meal is nothing without a great drink, right? The bartender position is very important for the image of your restaurant. Make sure to hire an experienced bartender as this can define the overall customer satisfaction. Remember that the hired person for the position will not only be sitting behind the bar, isolated from the crowd. They will usually be taking orders and talking to your customers. That is why having a good bartender is a very important ingredient in the recipe for the success of your restaurant.

Skills & Competence:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Solid experience with various types of beverages
  • Cheerful and easy-going person
  • Ability to work under stress
  • Professional attitude focused on customer satisfaction

Median hourly wage: $8.00 – $13.00 (plus tips)

18. Barback

Barbacks are baristas’ assistants. They are responsible for numerous tasks, but in general, they make sure that the bartender has everything needed to handle his job appropriately. They are responsible for maintaining the needed quantity of bottles, tracking inventory (coffee, sugar, fruits, etc.), restocking the bar with ice, changing kegs, etc.

Skills & Competence:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Proactiveness
  • Team play
  • Multitasking
  • Can-do attitude

Median hourly wage: $9.00 – $11.00 (plus small commission of the tips)

19. Barista

If you are running a small bakery or a fast-food restaurant, you will need to hire a barista. Apart from the dishes, people will be willing to order coffee, tea, smoothies, etc. The one you hire should be able to listen to customers carefully and process their orders in a timely manner.

Skills & Competence:

  • Good communication skills
  • Excellent memory
  • Cool under stress
  • Quick and organized working ethics

Median hourly wage: $9.00 – $12.00

Related: How to Open a Restaurant: A Complete Guide to Opening a Restaurant

20. Drive-thru Operator

This position is typical for quick-service restaurants . Drive-thru operators are responsible for taking and processing orders, cash operations, and food delivery through the window of the drive-thru restaurant. The most specific thing about this position is the fact that it requires quick and efficient service with minimum waiting times.

Skills & Competence:

  • Ability to deal with numbers and handling cash
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to work under pressure

Median hourly wage: $8.00 – $10.00

21. Cashier

The cashier position is similar to the drive-thru operator as it is also responsible for handling cash operations and taking orders. The only difference between them is the fact that the drive-thru operator is located in (surprisingly)… a drive-thru restaurant.

Skills & Competence:

  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to handle cash operations

Median hourly wage: $08.00 – $10.00

22. Dishwasher

This position is where most people who want to make their first steps in a restaurant’s kitchen start working at. That is all because it does not require any experience and is a great opportunity to enter a restaurant kitchen and slowly, but steadily, learn about cooking from the main chefs. Apart from being responsible for the dishes hygiene, dishwashers take care of the garbage and the kitchen cleaning as well.

Skills & Competence:

Median hourly wage: State minimum wage

How much does Uno Pizzeria & Grill in the United States pay?

Average Uno Pizzeria & Grill hourly pay ranges from approximately $8.34 per hour for Delivery Driver to $15.92 per hour for Bartender. The average Uno Pizzeria & Grill salary ranges from approximately $18,000 per year for Busser to $61,260 per year for General Manager.

Salary information comes from 352 data points collected directly from employees, users, and past and present job advertisements on Indeed in the past 36 months.

Please note that all salary figures are approximations based upon third party submissions to Indeed. These figures are given to the Indeed users for the purpose of generalized comparison only. Minimum wage may differ by jurisdiction and you should consult the employer for actual salary figures.

Cook Overview

So, get this - as a cook, you'll spend a lot of your time cooking. Crazy, we know. But that's not all you'll be doing. In addition to the food actually being cooked properly, most people like it to be seasoned. Between the preparation and seasoning, this is where you get to be creative.

When you think of a cook, you probably think of a restaurant setting but in actuality, cooks are needed in a lot of different places, this includes schools, hospitals, and even private households. One thing that is consistent is the inconsistent schedule.

Sometimes you'll work a night shift, other times you'll work super early in the morning. You may even have to work on a holiday. And don't be surprised with a weekend shift. The good news is that formal education isn't really necessary. Sometimes culinary creativity comes naturally.

What Does a Cook Do

Cooks prepare, season, and cook a wide range of foods, which may include soups, salads, entrees, and desserts.

Cooks typically do the following:

  • Ensure the freshness of food and ingredients
  • Weigh, measure, and mix ingredients according to recipes
  • Bake, grill, or fry meats, fish, vegetables, and other foods
  • Boil and steam meats, fish, vegetables, and other foods
  • Arrange, garnish, and sometimes serve food
  • Clean work areas, equipment, utensils, and dishes
  • Cook, handle, and store food or ingredients

Cooks usually work under the direction of chefs, head cooks, or food service managers. Large restaurants and food service establishments often have multiple menus and large kitchen staffs. Teams of restaurant cooks, sometimes called assistant cooks or line cooks, work at assigned stations equipped with the necessary types of stoves, grills, pans, and ingredients.

Job titles often reflect the principal ingredient cooks prepare or the type of cooking they do—vegetable cook, fry cook, or grill cook, for example.

Cooks use a variety of kitchen equipment, including broilers, grills, slicers, grinders, and blenders.

The responsibilities of cooks vary depending on where they work, the size of the facility, and the level of service offered. However, in all establishments, they follow established sanitation procedures when handling food. For example, they store food and ingredients at the correct temperatures to prevent bacterial growth.

The following are examples of types of cooks:

Restaurant cooks prepare a wide selection of dishes and cook most orders individually. Some restaurant cooks may order supplies, set menu prices, and plan the daily menu.

Fast-food cooks prepare a limited selection of menu items in fast-food restaurants. They cook and package food, such as hamburgers and fried chicken, to be kept warm until served. For more information on workers who prepare and serve items in fast-food restaurants, see the profiles on food preparation workers and food and beverage serving and related workers.

Institution and cafeteria cooks work in the kitchens of schools, cafeterias, businesses, hospitals, and other institutions. For each meal, they prepare a large quantity of a limited number of entrees, vegetables, and desserts, according to preset menus. These cooks usually prepare meals in advance and seldom take special orders.

Short-order cooks prepare foods in restaurants and coffee shops that emphasize fast service and quick food preparation. They usually prepare sandwiches, fry eggs, and cook french fries, often working on several orders at the same time.

Private household cooks, sometimes called personal chefs, plan and prepare meals in private homes, according to the client’s tastes and dietary needs. They order groceries and supplies, clean the kitchen, and wash dishes and utensils. They also may cater parties, holiday meals, luncheons, and other social events. Private household cooks typically work for one full-time client, although some are self-employed or employed by an agency, regularly making meals for multiple clients.

How To Become a Cook

Most cooks learn their skills through on-the-job training and work-related experience. Although no formal education is required, some restaurant cooks and private household cooks attend culinary schools. Others attend vocational or apprenticeship programs.

Vocational cooking schools, professional culinary institutes, and some colleges offer culinary programs for aspiring cooks. These programs generally last from a few months to 2 years and may offer courses in advanced cooking techniques, international cuisines, and various cooking styles. To enter these programs, candidates may be required to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Depending on the type and length of the program, graduates generally qualify for entry-level positions as a restaurant cook.

Most cooks learn their skills through on-the-job training, usually lasting a few weeks. Trainees generally first learn kitchen basics and workplace safety and then learn how to handle and cook food.

Some cooks learn through an apprenticeship program. Professional culinary institutes, industry associations, and trade unions may sponsor such programs for cooks. Typical apprenticeships last 1 year and combine technical training and work experience. Apprentices complete courses in food sanitation and safety, basic knife skills, and equipment operation. They also learn practical cooking skills under the supervision of an experienced chef.

The American Culinary Federation accredits more than 200 academic training programs and sponsors apprenticeships through these programs around the country. The basic qualifications for entering an apprenticeship program are as follows:

  • Minimum age of 17
  • High school education or equivalent
  • Pass substance abuse screening

Some hotels, a number of restaurants, and the Armed Forces have their own training programs.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Many cooks learn their skills through work-related experience. They typically start as a kitchen helper or food preparation worker, learning basic cooking skills before they advance to assistant cook or line cook positions. Some learn by working under the guidance of a more experienced cook.


The American Culinary Federation certifies chefs, personal chefs, pastry chefs, and culinary administrators, among others. For cooks seeking advancement to higher level chef positions, certification can show accomplishment and lead to higher paying positions.

Advancement opportunities for cooks often depend on training, work experience, and the ability to prepare more complex dishes. Those who learn new cooking skills and who handle greater responsibility, such as supervising kitchen staff in the absence of a chef, often advance. Some cooks may train or supervise kitchen staff, and some may become head cooks, chefs, or food service managers.

Important Qualities

Comprehension. Cooks need to understand orders and follow recipes to prepare dishes correctly.

Customer-service skills. Restaurant and short-order cooks must be able to interact effectively with customers and handle special requests.

Dexterity. Cooks should have excellent hand–eye coordination. For example, they need to use proper knife techniques for cutting, chopping, and dicing.

Physical stamina. Cooks spend a lot of time standing in one place, cooking food over hot stoves, and cleaning work areas.

Sense of taste and smell. Cooks must have a keen sense of taste and smell to prepare meals that customers enjoy.

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How much do Subway workers take home?

Subway has always preferred to give the title of "sandwich artist" to the workers who prepare food in its restaurants, but they do appear to make a little more money than most actual artists tend to make. Glassdoor has Subway's average base pay as $9 per hour, with store managers appearing to make an average of $12 per hour, and shift leaders and assistant managers making around $10 per hour. But the real difference between this company and the ones we've looked at so far is that Glassdoor users have actually reported considerable additional pay for Subway employees. According to the site, the average additional pay for a Subway worker is $311 (some coming from bonuses and some from tips) with a small number of reports suggesting that sandwich artists can make up to $2,000 in cash bonuses and a staggering $4,000 in tips of course, even if that has been the case for some, it's certainly not the norm for most.

Those bonuses seem a little less shiny, however, when you consider that — according to a 2014 CNN analysis of data collected by the Department of Labor — Subway leads the nation in wage violations and employee underpayment. According to the report, franchisees have had to reimburse Subway workers over $3.8 million dollars over the years, as part of around 17,000 different violations. And these, CNN is quick to point out, are only the instances in which the company was caught.

A school food service director is a food service manager who works at a school. These professionals run the operations of cafeterias in elementary and secondary schools. They are responsible for meeting government requirements for nutrition, food preparation and safety. They typically plan breakfast and lunch menus, and they order the ingredients needed to prepare these meals. They also hire cafeteria staff, schedule their hours and oversee their work.

The following table can tell you what education and training you'll need, as well as possible wages for this profession.

Education Required On-the-job training postsecondary education preferred
Key Skills Leadership, communication, problem-solving, business, attention to detail
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 11% (for all food service managers)*
Average Annual Salary (2018) $58,960 (for all food service managers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education or Training Do I Need to Work in the School Food Service Industry?

Training for a food service director involves management experience in a restaurant or comparable setting within the food service industry. Because many establishments promote managers from within, it's likely that you'll need to start out in a server, cook or similar role within the organization before advancing.

To become a director in a school setting, you also might need a bachelor's degree in food service and hospitality management, nutrition or dietetics. Several colleges and universities offer programs that cover food preparation and sanitation, financial and operational management, menu planning, legal issues, nutrition, marketing and more.

What Duties Will I Have?

As a school food service director, you'll oversee the daily operations of the cafeteria and food service program. Specifically, you'll maintain an efficient and high quality program that meets federal, state and USDA requirements in regards to food preparation, nutritional requirements, meal patterns and sanitation. Additionally, school food service directors prepare and maintain the budget by managing all income and expenses related to the program. Other job duties might include:

  • Hiring and training food service personnel
  • Effectively managing and leading staff members
  • Regularly evaluating staff performance and program quality
  • Enforcing safety policies and procedures
  • Promoting school food nutrition to students, teachers and parents
  • Developing alternate menus for special diets

How Much Could I Expect to Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average wage of food service managers was $58,960 per year in May 2018 ( However, the BLS also reported that the majority of food service managers are either self-employed restaurant and food establishment owners or salaried managers of limited and full-service restaurants. The small percentage of elementary and secondary school food service managers earned an average annual income of $65,730 that same year.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of working as a food service manager in a school, you could find a job at another type of dining establishment, such as a restaurant or a catering company. Outside of the food industry, you could get a job as the manager of a hospitality establishment such as a hotel or motel. Like food service managers, lodging managers only need a high school diploma, but postsecondary education can increase your job prospects. Alternatively, if you are passionate about food preparation, you could get a job as a cook, which requires no formal training, but you can hone your skills by completing a culinary arts certificate program. Cooks may find jobs at a wide range of dining establishments, including school cafeterias and restaurants.

General Managers

In individual restaurants, the general or operations manager often holds the highest-paid position. In 2018, these individuals made a average of $38.30 per hour or $79,670 per year. As with most jobs, geographic location is a major factor affecting compensation. Top-paying states for restaurant managers, according to the BLS, include New Jersey ($167,600), New York ($156,260), Rhode Island ($155,910), Connecticut ($155,890) and the District of Columbia ($150,970).

General managers oversee daily activities at their locations and may meet with the CEO or other restaurant managers to advance corporate goals. They hire and fire restaurant staff, train and promote them, and deal with customer issues that subordinates can't solve. As with other top executives, general managers have a bachelor’s or master’s degree but may have started as a server or at another entry-level position before being advanced to positions with more responsibility.

Income Statement

An income statement is an official financial document that presents the actual income and expenses of a business for a declared period of time—often the end of each month and at the end of the fiscal year.

The income statement is essentially the monthly budget with actual cost and income figures inserted. For example, the income statement from the example above (Figure 35) could be laid out as shown in Figure 36.

Figure 36: Income Statement for year ending December 31. [Image description]

Income statements are also known as profit and loss statements. An example of a detailed profit and loss statement is shown in Figure 37.

Figure 37: Detailed profit and loss statement

Returns and promotions $ 8190 (2.9%)

Total sales $ 279 000

Beginning inventory $ 16 500

Cost of food sold $ 110 000 (39.4%)

Gross profit $ 169 000 (60.6%)

Salaries and wages $ 63 750 (22.8%)

E. I. and WorkSafe $ 6000 (2.2%)

Laundry and linen $ 7700 (2.8% )

Cleaning and paper supplies $ 10 500 (3.8%)

Freight and cartage $ 5250 (1.9%)

Utilities and fuel $ 2750 (1.0%)

Repairs and maintenance $ 500 (0.2%)

Total operating expenses $ 147 000 (52.7%)

Total net profit $ 22 000 (7.9%)

As you can see, there is a great deal of financial information that goes into the operation of a restaurant. Learning to understand and interpret the information is a skill that you will need to develop in order to manage a kitchen successfully.


Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Public Law 111-148, 111th Cong., 2nd session (March 23, 2010).

In 2004, an estimated 9.2 injuries occurred every hour on U.S. farms, with a fatality rate of nearly 26 per 100,000.

The Consumer Price Index is the measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services.

As an example, food affordability is measured by food consumption as a percentage of total household expenditure, proportion of the population living under the poverty line, GDP per capita, agricultural import tariffs, presence of food safety net programs, and access to financing for farmers.

Auction games are situations in which actors independently bid on a commodity that is sold to the highest bidder.

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