Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupation Profiles


The Food Preparation and Serving Related occupation profiles compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (released in May 2016 and modified in March 2017) include specific information about 18 distinct occupational job types.

Explore the qualifications and nature of each job type through links on this page and throughout the site.

Fast Facts: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”) estimates that 12,981,720 are employed in this occupational group earning the “mean annual wage” (as defined below) of $23,850.

If you are interested in assessing long-term trends and comparing the Bureau’s annual surveys beginning in 1988 see here.

In general, the “mean” is the sum of the total values (e.g., wages) in the data set or survey divided by number of values (while the “median” is the middle value in same the sequence. The term “mean annual wage” (or “MAW”) is calculated by multiplying the mean hourly wage as determined by the BLS by a “year-round, full-time” hours figure of 2,080 hours. So, for example, the Food Preparation and Serving Related group’s mean hourly wage of $11.466, multiplied by 2,080, results in the mean annual wage of $23,850.

Distinct Occupational Types (by size):
Largest Employment--Combined Food Prep and Serving Workers--3,426,090
Smallest Employment Category-- Cooks, Private Household--370

 Highest Paid (mean annual wage) 

 Lowest Paid (from lowest) 

What’s Hot: It was once said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” With the proliferation of the Food Network and other ‘food for thought’ TV programming, it’s no wonder that Chefs and Head Cooks top the Best Paid list at $47,390 and the very exclusive Cooks, Private Household occupation with a membership of only 370 have a mean annual wage of $42,220.

What’s Not: Cooks, Fast Food at $20,570 and Combined Food Preparation & Serving Workers (including Fast Food), $20,460 are neither making rich sauces nor rich incomes in topping the Least Paid list. Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Dishwashers at $21,280 are also included in this category. Perhaps, the public should consider that better tips are always welcome…

Wage Estimates for the entire group can be found here.

Sources: In addition to specific citations noted, supplementary source materials include the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.