Looking for a restaurant job that pays well above minimum wage? The restaurant industry offers some lucrative careers if you know where to look. In this comprehensive guide, we reveal the restaurant positions that offer the highest paychecks and best benefits.

Quick Answer: The Highest Paying Restaurant Jobs

If you’re looking for a lucrative career in the restaurant industry, there are several high-paying positions to consider. These jobs require a combination of skills, experience, and expertise, but the financial rewards can be well worth it. Here are three of the highest paying restaurant jobs:

General Manager

The role of a general manager is crucial in ensuring the smooth operation of a restaurant. They are responsible for overseeing all aspects of the establishment, including managing staff, handling budgets, and maintaining customer satisfaction.

General managers often have years of experience in the industry and possess strong leadership and organizational skills. According to Payscale, the average salary for a general manager in the restaurant industry is $60,000 per year, but top earners can make well over $100,000.

Executive Chef

Executive chefs are the masterminds behind the culinary creations in a restaurant. They are responsible for developing menus, supervising kitchen staff, and ensuring the quality and consistency of the food.

To reach this position, chefs typically have extensive experience in the culinary field and possess exceptional culinary skills. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for executive chefs in the United States is $51,530, but top earners can make significantly more.


A sommelier is a wine expert who advises customers on wine selection and oversees the wine program in a restaurant. They are responsible for curating the wine list, conducting tastings, and pairing wines with food.

Sommeliers often hold certifications from reputable organizations such as the Court of Master Sommeliers or the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. While the salary range for sommeliers can vary, top professionals can earn six-figure salaries.

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a sommelier in the United States is $60,000 per year.

It’s important to note that salaries in the restaurant industry can vary depending on factors such as location, restaurant size, and level of experience. However, these three positions consistently rank among the highest paying in the industry.

If you have the skills and passion for these roles, they can offer great financial rewards and a fulfilling career in the restaurant industry.

Detailed Breakdown of Lucrative Restaurant Careers

General Manager

Being a general manager in a restaurant can be a highly lucrative career choice. General managers are responsible for overseeing the overall operations of the restaurant, including managing staff, ensuring customer satisfaction, and maximizing profits.

According to a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for general and operations managers in the restaurant industry is $123,880, making it one of the highest paying restaurant jobs.

Executive Chef

If you have a passion for culinary arts and want to earn a high salary, becoming an executive chef might be the right path for you. Executive chefs are in charge of the kitchen and oversee all food preparation and cooking activities.

They also create new menus, manage food costs, and ensure the quality of the dishes served. According to the National Restaurant Association, executive chefs can earn an average salary of $70,000 to $120,000 per year, depending on their level of experience and the size of the restaurant.


A sommelier is a wine expert who is responsible for curating and managing the restaurant’s wine list. They also assist customers in selecting the perfect wine to complement their meals. Becoming a sommelier requires extensive knowledge of different wines, regions, and food pairings.

The income of a sommelier can vary greatly depending on their experience and the restaurant’s reputation. According to the Court of Master Sommeliers, a certified sommelier can earn an average salary of $60,000 to $80,000 per year, with the potential to earn even higher salaries in renowned establishments.

Restaurant Owner

Being a restaurant owner can be both financially rewarding and challenging. As an owner, you have the opportunity to build your own brand, create a unique dining experience, and potentially earn substantial profits.

However, owning a restaurant requires significant investment, a strong business acumen, and the ability to manage all aspects of the operation. While the income of a restaurant owner can vary widely, successful owners can earn six-figure incomes or even more.

Pastry Chef

For those with a sweet tooth and a passion for baking, becoming a pastry chef can be a highly rewarding career choice. Pastry chefs specialize in creating a variety of desserts, pastries, and baked goods. They often work in high-end restaurants, hotels, or pastry shops.

According to the American Culinary Federation, experienced pastry chefs can earn an average salary of $50,000 to $75,000 per year. However, renowned pastry chefs working in top establishments can earn even higher salaries.

Kitchen Manager

A kitchen manager plays a vital role in ensuring the smooth operation of a restaurant’s kitchen. They are responsible for managing kitchen staff, supervising food preparation, and maintaining food safety standards.

Kitchen managers also handle inventory, order supplies, and ensure the kitchen runs efficiently. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for food service managers, including kitchen managers, is $55,320.

It’s important to note that while these restaurant careers have the potential for high salaries, they also require dedication, hard work, and often years of experience to reach the top earning levels.

Additionally, salaries can vary depending on factors such as location, restaurant size, and level of expertise. Nevertheless, for those passionate about the culinary industry, these careers offer great opportunities for financial success.

Skills and Education Needed for Top Restaurant Jobs

Culinary School vs. On-the-Job Training

When it comes to pursuing a career in the restaurant industry, aspiring professionals often wonder whether they should attend culinary school or gain experience through on-the-job training. While both options have their merits, it ultimately depends on individual preferences and career goals.

Culinary school provides a structured curriculum that covers a wide range of culinary techniques, food safety protocols, and kitchen management skills. Graduates from reputable culinary schools often have an edge in the job market and may be eligible for higher-paying positions.

On the other hand, on-the-job training allows individuals to gain practical experience in a real-world restaurant setting. This hands-on approach can be invaluable for learning the intricacies of the kitchen and developing problem-solving skills.

Ultimately, a combination of both formal education and practical experience can be the ideal recipe for success in the restaurant industry.

Management and Leadership Skills

For those aiming to climb the ranks and secure top restaurant jobs, strong management and leadership skills are essential. Successful restaurant managers are not only adept at overseeing daily operations but also excel in team building, problem-solving, and customer service.

Developing these skills can be accomplished through a combination of education, experience, and personal growth. Some aspiring managers choose to pursue a degree in hospitality management, which equips them with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively lead a team.

Others may start at entry-level positions, gaining valuable experience and gradually moving up the ladder.

It’s important for managers to continuously hone their skills through professional development opportunities, such as attending workshops or earning certifications in areas such as food safety or customer service.

Business and Entrepreneurship Skills for Owners

If the goal is to become a restaurant owner or entrepreneur, a strong foundation in business and entrepreneurship is crucial. Owners need to have a solid understanding of financial management, marketing strategies, and operational efficiency.

While formal education in business or hospitality management can be beneficial, it is not the only path to success. Many successful restaurant owners have learned through hands-on experience, starting from entry-level positions and gradually working their way up.

However, complementing practical experience with business courses or workshops can help aspiring owners develop the necessary skills to navigate the complexities of running a successful restaurant.

Creativity and Artistry for Chefs

For chefs, creativity and artistry are key ingredients that set them apart in the culinary world. The ability to conceptualize unique dishes, experiment with flavors, and present visually stunning plates is what distinguishes exceptional chefs from the rest.

Chefs can enhance their creative skills by attending culinary schools that emphasize artistic techniques and encourage innovation. Additionally, staying updated with the latest food trends and experimenting with different ingredients can help chefs stay at the forefront of culinary excellence.

Moreover, chefs can draw inspiration from renowned culinary websites and publications like Bon App├ętit or ChefSteps, which provide valuable resources and insights into the world of gastronomy.

Interpersonal Skills for All Roles

Regardless of the specific role in a restaurant, having strong interpersonal skills is crucial for success. From front-of-house staff interacting with customers to back-of-house employees collaborating in a fast-paced kitchen, effective communication and teamwork are essential.

Developing interpersonal skills can be achieved through practice and self-awareness. Actively listening to others, maintaining a positive attitude, and resolving conflicts tactfully are all important aspects of fostering positive relationships in the restaurant industry.

Additionally, websites like National Restaurant Association offer resources and training programs that can help individuals further develop their interpersonal skills and excel in their roles.

Which Restaurant Chains Pay the Most?

When it comes to working in the restaurant industry, compensation is a key factor that many individuals consider. While some restaurants may offer competitive salaries, others may fall short in comparison. If you’re looking to find a restaurant chain that pays well, here are some top contenders:

The Cheesecake Factory

The Cheesecake Factory is known for its delicious desserts, but did you know it also pays its employees well? According to Glassdoor, the average hourly wage for a server at The Cheesecake Factory is around $14.

This is higher than the national average for restaurant servers, making it an attractive option for those seeking a well-paying job in the industry.

Red Lobster

Seafood lovers can rejoice, as Red Lobster not only offers tasty dishes but also competitive pay. The average hourly wage for a server at Red Lobster is approximately $12, which is above the industry average.

With a strong emphasis on customer service and a generous compensation package, Red Lobster is a great choice for individuals looking for a higher-paying restaurant job.

Olive Garden

Olive Garden is a popular Italian restaurant chain that is known for its warm hospitality and delicious pasta. When it comes to pay, Olive Garden also stands out. According to Indeed, the average hourly wage for a server at Olive Garden is around $12.50.

With a supportive work environment and a competitive salary, Olive Garden is a top contender for those seeking a well-paying job in the restaurant industry.

LongHorn Steakhouse

For steak enthusiasts, LongHorn Steakhouse not only offers mouthwatering cuts of meat but also attractive compensation. According to Payscale, the average hourly wage for a server at LongHorn Steakhouse is approximately $11.50.

With a focus on providing excellent customer service and a higher-than-average pay rate, LongHorn Steakhouse is a great option for individuals looking to earn a competitive salary in the restaurant business.

Texas Roadhouse

Known for its lively atmosphere and delicious ribs, Texas Roadhouse is another restaurant chain that pays its employees well. According to Indeed, the average hourly wage for a server at Texas Roadhouse is around $11.

This is above the industry average and makes Texas Roadhouse an appealing choice for those looking to work at a restaurant that values its employees and compensates them accordingly.

It’s important to note that these average hourly wages may vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and position within the restaurant. However, these restaurant chains have a reputation for offering competitive pay and providing a positive work environment for their employees.

If you’re looking for a higher-paying restaurant job, consider exploring opportunities at these establishments.


The restaurant industry offers ample high-paying career opportunities beyond entry-level jobs. With the right mix of skills, experience, and education, restaurant professionals can earn well into the six figures and beyond.

Though demanding, jobs like general manager, executive chef, and sommelier provide the chance to be handsomely rewarded for your hard work and expertise.

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