What is the average pay a cook makes these days?

How much do you pay cooks

  • Less than $8.00 per hour

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • $8.00 - $10.00 per hour

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • $10.00 - $15.00 per hour

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • More than $15.00 per hour

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters


Founder of Cheftalk.com
Staff member
Joined Oct 5, 2001
I am really curious what a lot of the professional chefs and caterers pay their cooks? Back when I was just out of school I was making 8.50 an hour. Later as I went up in skill level I was making 13.00 an hour as a line/prep cook.

Reason I am asking is I am noticing the high cost of culinary education now and wondering how realistic it is for people to consider culinary school. For example to attend the CIA it is close to $60K for the program. Most people don't have that money so they will end up taking loans. If someone is making $13.00 to $15.00 an hour plus living expenses they are going to be paying the loan of for a very long time. Just wondering what the cost benefit analysis is for going to culinary school.
Joined Feb 23, 2011
Culinary school is the new bartending school or massage therapist racket.  Schools are popping up everywhere and it is really cool to be a chef presently (food network, top chef.....).  My entry level cooks make the same I made out of school over 15 yrs ago.  Wages depend on the area/market as well.  It takes time to gain the practical experience to reap the benfits of this job.  I'm still paying off my loans.

If I had to do it over again presently I would skip school and go to the best place in the area just to get the name recognition.  Then you pay your dues and get the experience as that is what you benefit from.
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Nicko, what I think you'll find is a "viscious circle":

There is no real "average" wage for cooks because there is no benchmark or standard that represents what a Cook should know or be capable of.  This is the center of the circle.

Round and round we go, because since there is no benchmark, there is no pay scale to hang on to the job.

Round and round we go, because although we do have Unions, they have no interest in setting forth a benchmark.

Round and round we go, because since we have no benchmark, the Culinary schools can teach any curriculum they want to, with courses as long or as short as they deem neccesary, with whatever content they deem neccesary.

Now, compare this whole mess with other trades like plumbers/ gasfitters or electricians.  There you will find benchmarks that are built into teaching curriculum, built into building codes, and a rising salary scale based on the various benchmarks to be achieved.  The respective Unions work closely with the teaching facilities, developing curriculum, and with the various municipalities, enforcing codes that are part of the curiculum. 

A cook out of a 1 yr culinary school with no previous working  experience can earn anywhere from buck minimum to maximum $20.00/hr.  A plumber in his first year will earn that without even asking, as there are payscales based on 1st year benchmarks.

No one is interested in setting benchmarks for the cook.  True, there are benchmarks set forth by the AFC, but these are for Chefs, not cooks, In many parts of Europe the emphasis is on developing the cook, NOT the Chef, as it is impossible to have a good Chef that is not a competant cook. You can look at it as, "Take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves", or you can look at it that every professional sports team has a Coach that was once first a competant professional player.

It's a nasty little circle......................  
Top Bottom