While pay rates vary depending upon location, years of experience, and the restaurant facility, most line cook salary figures in the USA indicate that pay is up to 71% lower than the average salaries offered for all other positions within the economy. The position is considered to be stressful and a wide variety of duties are demanded. Understanding the industry and when and where pay increases can be found is vital for line cooks who want to remain in the field over the long term.
Understanding The Line Cook Position As Entry Level
Most employers consider the line cook to be working in an entry level position. They typically hire recent culinary graduates or train existing personnel who have shown promise in the kitchen. A typical starting wage varies between $10 and $12 an hour. Many line cooks report that wage increases are few and far between when they stay at the same restaurant for many years.
Why do people continue to work for these wages?
For many people, the relative freedom and motion within the restaurant is vastly preferable to the constraints within a corporate environment. It is a trade-off between a higher salary and more complete life satisfaction. Many employees keep their eyes and ears open and are willing to move to a different restaurant if they have not received a wage increase after increasing their skill levels.
Recent culinary school graduates understand that experience is a great teacher. They treat the years spent as a line cook as an apprenticeship and work hard to develop as a chef. Career promotions to sous chef or head chef may occur at the restaurant they are currently working at, but in most cases promotions occur when they are hired away by a different restaurant.
How To Increase Your Line Cook Salary In The USA
There are restaurants that pay higher wages for very skilled line cooks. Over time, cooks within the industry find out which ones pay better. These restaurants may be unionized or they may be producing significantly higher amounts of food on a daily basis which means that greater skills are required. If a line cook is interested in improving their pay, it is vital that they hone their skills in the lower paying restaurants that they are working within.
Line cooks who have well-developed skills and are able to creatively design new dishes can move onto higher paying positions as sous chefs or even head chefs. Devotion to the craft is essential in order to move up in the field. Most line cooks master several different positions on the line in order to be considered for this type of promotion.
Even though the pay is low, the jobs are plentiful and a good line cook will always be able to find work. Working in a kitchen has its own rewards and many line cooks soldier on despite the relatively low pay. As skill levels increase, most cooks realize that they must ask for directly ask their employers for more money to receive a wage that represents their contribution within the restaurant.