How Much Do Cooks Make per Year?

If you’re considering pursuing an occupation as a cook, you may be wondering what your salary would be. Throughout this guide, we will delve into the different pay rates in the U.S. and give some valuable tips on making your way into a high-earning position.

If you’re in the process of applying for jobs, now would be a great time to remind you to update your resume. In practical fields, such as being a cook, your skills will do the talking once you get to the interview and trial stages. But there’s no reason you shouldn’t aim to make a solid first impression using a professional resume. ResumeHelp has a specific cook resume example, which is straightforward to use and guarantees results.

Base Salary

Before we get into different states and jobs, the base salary for a cook in the United States is $43,438 per year. This may or may not reach your expectations, and it is essential to note that many elements factor into this amount. These include your location, the company where you work, and your years of experience.


Wherever you are situated in the country will make a difference in your pay rate. For example, the highest-earning states for cooks are Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Chicago. This is because of the demand and need for cooks in these areas due to high tourist income and restaurant chains. But, do bear in mind that moving to a different state isn’t necessary to increase your income, and there will be options in your area to increase your annual salary.


Not all establishments pay the same. Some pay significantly more than others. Large chains such as P.F. Changs and Chili’s are good companies to work for in terms of pay. But, at the top of the list is Disney Parks, Experience and Products, where cooks can make up to $50,000 a year, which is slightly more than the base rate in the U.S.

Years of experience

As your time in the cooking profession increases, your pay will, too. It is estimated that those with 10 or more years of experience in the industry can make up to $10,000 more than those starting in an entry-level position. So, be patient as you will get there eventually!

Ways to Overcome Low Pay

If you are feeling disheartened after reading the factors that can affect your pay, try not to overthink this. There are ways to combat insufficient salaries. When working a job you love, sometimes pay isn’t the most crucial part. But, here are some ways you can overcome a low wage.

Be selective with where you work.

Of course, when you receive a job offer, you’re probably not going to be picky and decide to refuse the offer. But, if you end up in a position where you are in an establishment paying less than the industry average, you should actively look for something else. Specifically, keep your eye on places that pay industry average or above.

Progress into a higher-paying position.

Through training and experience, your salary should naturally go up. However, it is always good to set a goal to work toward and keep in mind that your salary won’t always be the same as it is now. For example, a sous chef pays around $50,000 a year, and you will have the second-highest ranking position in the kitchen, meaning much more responsibility! From gaining experience as a sous chef for a few years, you will be eligible to pursue a head chef job, which pays around $65,000 yearly.

Be smart with expenditures.

We aren’t telling you what to do with your money, as that is entirely your choice, and no one should dictate that. But, it is good to take note of bargain deals when it comes to making investments in tools to help you progress your career as a chef, such as knives and chef whites. You can use our guide on buying chef whites to give you a better understanding of how to go about this process!

Eldis Algar

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