Tips to land a high-paying food industry job

Last updated: May 20, 2024
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Sara Jones
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Tips to land a high-paying food industry job
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If you are looking for a hands-on job that offers both excitement and good pay, then a career in the food industry may be for you. With many different types of food businesses out there, ranging from small mom-and-pop restaurants to large corporations, there is sure to be a place that fits your skills and interests.

This article will look at some of the highest-paying jobs in the food industry, both in terms of salary and job satisfaction, so you can narrow your search and have an idea of what to expect in terms of compensation.

What is a job in the food industry?

A job in the food industry refers to any position that helps create, process, package, market, or sell food and beverages. This includes everything from growing crops and raising livestock to working in a restaurant.

These jobs are often physical in nature and can be challenging, but they can also be very rewarding. If you have a love for food and enjoy working with people, then a career in food manufacturing or service may be a good fit for you.

Common tasks associated with food industry jobs include:

  • Cooking and baking

  • Managing inventory

  • Maintaining kitchen equipment

  • Providing customer service

  • Marketing and selling products

  • Overseeing production processes

Food industry jobs are among the most common in the United States. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), over 4 million people were employed in the food industry as of 2020.

The BLS further reports that jobs in the food industry are expected to grow by 17% from 2020 to 2030, equating to nearly 1 million new jobs each year. This growth is due to the demand for prepared and packaged foods and a growing focus on healthy eating.

Why work in the food industry?

The food industry is one of the most active sectors in the U.S. economy, and it offers a vast range of employment opportunities.

As the job market continues to shift toward more automation and less physical labor, the food production industry will likely remain one of the top choices for many people looking to find a satisfying career that gets them on their feet and allows them to use their hands.

There are nearly 36,834 fast-food workers in the United States, showcasing the magnitude of these types of jobs. But why opt for a career in the food industry? In addition to the obvious benefit of working with food, which can be very satisfying, you also work with a variety of people across different roles. You will likely have the opportunity to meet new people and learn about their cultures through the foods they eat.

Another great benefit of working in the food industry is that it is usually a very fast-paced environment. This can be exciting and challenging, and it often means that you will have to juggle multiple tasks at once. This can make for a very upbeat, stimulating work environment.

Finally, working in the food industry can be a great way to earn a good salary. Many jobs in the food industry offer competitive pay, and there are often opportunities for overtime or tips.

Highest-paying jobs in the food industry

Once you decide that a career in the food industry is right for you, consider your skills and interests to find the best job opportunities. There are many jobs available in this sector, but some tend to pay more than others. Some of the top-paying food industry jobs include:

Server or wait staff

This is one of the most popular jobs in the food industry, and it can be a great way to break into the field. Working in this type of role requires good customer service skills and working well under pressure. You may need to multitask and balance multiple tables at once.

According to the BLS, the average wage for servers or wait staff is $12.50. However, this number can vary greatly depending on if you receive tips and the type of establishment you work in.

Chef or head cook

Working as a chef or head cook can be a very rewarding experience. In this role, you will be responsible for overseeing food preparation and ensuring that it meets the highest standards. You will likely need extensive knowledge of different cooking techniques and methods.

The average hourly wage for chefs or head cooks is $24.11, though it can vary depending on the type of establishment.

Fast food worker

Many people start their careers in the food industry by working in fast food. While this type of job is often seen as entry-level, it can be a great way to learn important customer service and multitasking skills. These skills are crucial for keeping the operation of a fast-food restaurant running smoothly.

The average hourly wage for fast-food workers is $12.07, though this can vary depending on your state and the type of establishment.


Dishwashers play an important role in the food industry by keeping kitchen areas clean and organized. This job requires good organizational skills and the ability to work quickly and efficiently. You can typically find dishwashing jobs at fast-food restaurants, hotels, and other food-related businesses.

According to the BLS, the average pay for dishwashers is $11.74. Dishwashers can also receive tips or other income through bonuses and overtime pay.

Line cook or food preparer

Line cooks and food preparers play a key role in the kitchen by preparing food for customers. This job requires good knife skills, following recipes, and working well under pressure. Line cooks typically work in restaurants, hotels, or other foodservice establishments.

The average hourly wage for line cooks and food preparers is $14.00, though some line cook roles may receive tips.


Bartenders are responsible for making and serving drinks to customers. This job requires good customer service skills, multitasking, and quick decisions. Bartenders typically work in restaurants, hotels, bars, or other establishments that serve alcohol.

The annual salary for bartenders is $12.67, though this can vary depending on tips and your workplace. Some bartenders may have to pool their tips and share them with other servers.

Pastry artist or baker

Pastry artists or bakers create beautiful and delicious desserts for customers. This job requires creativity, attention to detail, and good baking skills. While there are programs that can train bakers, many grocery stores and restaurants hire aspiring pastry artists or bakers directly and train them on the job.

The average hourly wage for pastry artists and bakers is $14.31, though this number can vary depending on where you work. Some establishments may also offer bonuses, such as product discounts or extra vacation days.

How to get a job in foodservice

If you're interested in the foodservice industry, you can do a few things to increase your chances of landing a job.

1. Utilize your network

If you have friends or family who work in the food industry, reach out to them and see if they can help you get your foot in the door. Some businesses are more likely to hire someone if they come recommended by a current employee. Try to keep your network active and up-to-date, so you can take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

2. Update your resume

When applying for jobs in this field, update your resume to highlight any relevant experience or skills you have. If you don't have any experience in the food industry, focus on transferable skills, such as customer service, teamwork, or multitasking.

3. Schedule an informational interview

When you reach out to a company, ask if you can schedule an informational interview or chat with someone who works there about their experience in the industry. This will allow you to learn more about what it's like to work at that establishment and get some valuable advice for your job search.

These are just a few steps to help you land a new job in the food industry. You can branch out into other roles, such as foodservice manager, executive chef, or catering, once you have some experience.

With hard work and dedication, it’s more than possible to find a rewarding position in the food industry that suits your interests and needs.

Jump-start your new foodservice career

When you're ready to start a new career path in the food industry, keep these tips in mind to improve your chances of landing a high-paying job. You can achieve your goals and begin earning a comfortable living with hard work and dedication. Remember to update your resume and add your connections on Jobcase to keep your network active.

Whether you want to become a pastry artist, baker, line cook, or food preparer, there are many high-paying jobs in the food industry to explore. If you need additional support during your job search, visit the Getting Hired Resource Center for resources and information.



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