Top 10 Jobs with Food (Including Salaries and Duties)
Updated 20 March 2023
Food-related jobs are great for people who enjoy cooking and serving customers. Careers in the food industry offer opportunities to improve your cooking skills. Learning about jobs that allow you to work with food can help inform your career choices. In this article, we explain the top 10 food-related jobs with their national average salaries and summarise the primary duties you may have in each role.
10 jobs with food
Here is a list of the top 10 jobs with food to consider:
National average salary: $57,862 per year
Primary duties: Bakers specialise in making both savoury and sweet baked goods. This includes pies, bread, cakes and pastries. They often collaborate with customer representatives, food servers and delivery personnel to bake and deliver food items. They apply excellent mathematics skills, attention to detail and time management skills to measure ingredients, complete recipes and deliver orders in bulk. Bakers often work in food settings such as restaurants, grocery stores and bakeries.
National average salary: $99,065 per year
Primary duties: Executive chefs are kitchen leaders who maintain pristine kitchen hygiene and ensure the food is of its highest quality. Executive chefs possess excellent problem-solving skills to meet customer requirements, resolve staff issues and stay efficient while preparing meals. Such professionals have great portfolios and work in settings like private residences, diners and dining restaurants. They typically display quality communication skills to directly address customer concerns and provide directives to the kitchen staff throughout the day.
National average salary: $49,061 per year
Primary duties: Cake decorators have an artistic nature and specialise in designing, shaping and colouring cakes. They often fulfil customer orders and personalise cakes using flowers, characters, icing, calligraphy and screen printing stickers. To complete tasks in a timely manner, cake decorators typically require being detail-oriented and well disciplined. As they mainly deal with cakes, they have the flexibility to work from home or work in bakeries and grocery stores. They often follow specific food guidelines, calculate inventory and provide customer service to clients to add more value to customers.
4. Pastry cook
National average salary: $58,536 per year
Primary duties: A pastry cook specialises in making sweet and savoury pastries such as pies and cakes and often works in grocery stores and bakery departments. They're skilled at various pastry-making techniques and often create unique designs and flavours. Pastry cooks often have 12-hour days, spending the mornings preparing pastries in kitchens and the late afternoons taking orders and planning the menu for the next day.
5. Sous chef
National average salary: $69,707 per year
Primary duties: Sous chefs, also known as second chefs, oversee kitchen staff and assist the executive chef with cooking, planning and supervising the quality of the food in the kitchen. They help pass the rules from executive chefs to the staff members and ensure all the cooks abide by the food safety laws. Sous chefs possess exceptional creative thinking skills to make unique dishes and manage people efficiently.
National average salary: $64,191 per year
Primary duties: Restaurant managers direct wait staff and kitchen personnel to create a cohesive work environment. They may select daily specials, wines and plan menus that maintain the restaurant's quality standards. They typically work in fine dining restaurants and hotels to create an excellent dining experience. Restaurant managers often collaborate with the sous chef, executive chef and other cooking staff to ensure the food abides by food safety laws.
7. Food server
National average salary: $54,462 per year
Primary duties: A food server takes orders from the restaurant's guests and conveys them to kitchen personnel. Some of their duties include communicating with the customers, making food suggestions, explaining the ingredients of meals and maintaining a positive reputation of the restaurant. Conducting these tasks may require them to have outstanding communication skills and personal hygiene. They may also collaborate with cooks, restaurant managers and chefs to offer other food-related services.
Related: What Is On-the-Job Training?
National average salary: $88,334 per year
Primary duties: Restaurant architects design the overall look and structure of a restaurant. Restaurant owners often contact architects even before signing a lease or buying property. They work with technical drawings and consider the aesthetic appeal of the restaurant before collaborating with the construction crew of the restaurant. Restaurant architects typically work on high visibility commercial properties, have deep understandings and experience with technical design software like Revit Architecture and create and present drawings to clients.
National average salary: $65,079 per year
Primary duties: Food science is a career field where professionals experiment with the chemical and physical transformation of food ingredients. Examples of such transformations include curry foam, olive oil powder and cigar smoke ice cream. This helps add uniqueness to the taste, colour and feel of regular cooking. Food scientists, also called molecular gastronomists, do this by understanding why ingredients react the way they do when heated or frozen and adding distinct ingredients like agar agar to change its formulation.
10. Food lawyer
National average salary: $100,276 per year
Primary duties: Food lawyers are legal professionals who specialise in advising food production companies. They typically ensure the food we eat is legally sourced and stay aware of current laws to convey them to clients.
Considerations for culinary careers
It may be a requirement to obtain qualifications through higher education studies for many of the roles in the culinary industry. If you are considering entering this field, it's beneficial to learn the basic requirements for the individual job roles. Here are some of the extra qualifications that may be required:
Baker: You can gain an added advantage in this career by earning a bachelor's degree, completing apprenticeships to enhance proficiency or pursuing an education in cooking science and pastry arts from a technical or trade school.
Executive chef: To become an executive chef, you may aim to have a formal education in culinary arts and have prior experience in creating and following recipes.
Cake decorator: To begin this career, you may require formal education, like an associate or Bachelor of Culinary Arts. You can secure your ideal job by focusing on pastry and baking arts and also taking a one-day or multi-week cake decorating course to help you enhance your creative skills.
Pastry cook: It may be a requirement to have a Bachelor of Culinary Arts. You can also pursue training through entry-level employment to understand the different preparation techniques and procedures in pastry.
Sous chef: To become a sous chef, you may require a certificate in commercial cookery and a diploma in hospitality management. You can collaborate with people from different departments to help you sharpen your teamwork and communication skills to assist with managing kitchen staff.
Restaurant manager: It may be useful to complete your high school education and pursue an associate's or bachelor's degree in business management and hospitality to become a restaurant manager. You can also increase your experience through entry-level positions or opt for specialised restaurant manager training programs.
Food server: Completing high school and receiving training through relevant experience or on-the-job training may be beneficial in this role.
Restaurant architect: For this role, it's useful to complete a professional bachelor's or master's degree program in architecture. You can also complete a three-year internship or entry-level positions to gain more experience.
Food scientist: You can become an expert in molecular cuisine by completing a master's degree in molecular biology and physics to understand its fundamentals and experiment with food-making techniques. You may also stay aware of the current industry trends by attending seminars with fellow molecular gastronomists and reading news to generate innovative ideas and create your unique versions of food items.
Food lawyer: To understand food legislation in your area, try to complete a bachelor of law (LLB) degree or a Juris Doctor (JD) degree, along with at least three years of experience in the food-related industry.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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