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The average salary for a Food Preparation and Serving in U.S. is $29,450.

Annual Average Salary Information

Annual Average Salary: $29,450


Hourly Pay Information

Hourly Average Salary: $14.16


What does a Food Preparation and Serving earn?

On average, food preparation and service workers earn around $29,450 per year in the U.S.. They work in a wide range of locales, from busy kitchens in large restaurants to cafes and small takeaway counters. Food preparation and service workers are able to specialise in different types of food; from preparing burgers and fries to salads, sandwiches, and more.

How to earn more as a Food Preparation and Serving

To become a food preparation and serving specialist, you will need to have a high knowledge of the culinary arts, health and safety regulations, and business management principles. You can obtain this knowledge and skill through formal culinary education or a degree apprenticeship. To increase your pay and move up within the industry, you may want to specialise in a niche cooking area, such as desserts, or become a head chef of an establishment. You could also branch out and start your own food-related business.

Food Preparation and Serving responsibilities

The average food preparation and serving salary is affected by many factors, including whether you work in the highest-paying cities, labor force demand, responsibilities, and the job title. The job title could be for an entry-level position or senior roles, such as Food Preparation Worker, Dishwasher, Chef, or Bartender.

Most careers working as Food Preparation Workers will see you responsible for duties where you might serve customers, clean tables, take customer payments, prepare food, order supplies, and provide customer service.

Food preparation leaders and managers earn higher salaries than Food Preparation Workers, focusing on delegating tasks, measuring employee performance, resolving complaints from customers, and ensuring health and safety compliance.

Skills and education level

Your education level will also affect your pay and average wage. Most restaurants and bars will expect you to have a high school diploma for entry-level jobs or at least a good standard of English and math. You should be paid higher salaries and compensation if you work for employers requesting a high school degree, with some management positions requiring an associate, bachelor's, or master’s degree.

If you do not have a U.S. high school diploma, you could take the General Education Development Test (GED) to show you have the same knowledge level as a high school graduate. You can take the GED test within America or from more than 90 countries if you live outside the United States.

The top food preparation worker skills for serving related workers and similar professions include food hygiene knowledge, customer service skills, organization, a good memory, numeracy, and cash-handling skills.

What to expect from Food Preparation and Serving careers

You can start your food preparation career in a trainee or junior position. Graduate-level jobs are also available, with the average salary reflecting the education attained. You will likely be expected to work front-of-house or back-of-house, depending on if you are a Food Server or Food Preparation Worker. Tasks may vary depending on the size of the establishment, with smaller restaurants and bars requiring individuals who can cover several roles.

Food preparation and serving related workers often work day, evening, and weekend shifts, including U.S. holidays. As with similar occupations and jobs, you will require physical stamina and you could be expected to spend your entire shift on your feet.

Food Preparation and Serving job title

There are numerous job titles within the food preparation and serving industry. Examples of food preparation-related job titles include Cook, Fast Food Cook, Fast Food Worker, Host, and Hostess. Employees who are employed in skilled roles may secure excellent job growth and a wage above the national average identified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

You can search for Food Preparation Worker new jobs and salaries on for these and similar professions.

Highest-paying locations for Food Preparation and Serving jobs

The location of your food preparation and serving job in America and the United States can significantly affect your pay and compensation. You can use our Salary Calculator to check the annual salary and hourly average salary for jobs in any location in America. We have salary and pay data for locations such as California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Virginia, Massachusetts, Jersey, and more.

You could consider relocating to improve your compensation. However, if you do not wish to relocate, this does not mean you cannot improve your pay. A short commute and working for a business in an inner city location will often mean access to better salaries. If you are interested in a job in a rural location or city, you can use our annual salary data to check if employers are offering a below, above or average salary.

Food Preparation and Serving professional development

The salary for food preparation and serving professionals varies depending on the individual’s career level and experience in the field. Entry-level positions have the lowest pay, while fully qualified workers, senior staff, and management earn more. Graduates with relevant qualifications may command a higher starting salary. To increase your earning potential, consider taking training opportunities such as workshops or online courses. Our per-hour and annual salary data provide guidance on the wage range and earnings for junior, intermediate, and senior industry roles.

Food Preparation and Serving work experience

Obtaining prior food preparation and serving work experience in your chosen career path can significantly enhance your chances of getting hired and earning a competitive salary. Practical experiences such as internships, apprenticeships, shadowing, and vacation work can provide valuable skills and knowledge in the field. If it is not possible to find work experience directly for your prospective job, showcasing transferable skills gained from other experiences can also be beneficial to potential employers and demonstrate your experience level.

Food Preparation and Serving working hours

Working hours for your food preparation and serving job and career can have an impact on monthly pay and salaries. Companies of different sizes may offer higher overtime pay or additional compensation for working non-traditional hours, such as evenings, weekends, or holidays. The type of employment, such as part-time, full-time, permanent, temporary, or contract, can also affect the salary received and should be considered when evaluating compensation fairness.

Food Preparation and Serving salary negotiations

To be well-prepared for salary negotiations with employers, it’s crucial to research and understand the typical salaries and other compensation factors, such as average bonus, for prospective positions. Use our salary comparison tool and perform searches for different job titles and locations to determine your worth.

Keep in mind that food preparation and serving compensation is not only limited to financial benefits and performance-related commission, and consider other benefits such as the ability to work from home, additional paid vacation, gym membership, or private healthcare.

Annual salary, median salary, and taxes

When you review the median salary or annual salary for a food preparation and serving role, it is vital to remember that you will pay taxes on salaries paid. When you receive your pay, you may be liable for various employment taxes, either deducted by your employer or required by self-payment. U.S. government taxes can include Federal Income Tax, Federal and State Unemployment Tax, Social Security and Medicare Tax, and Additional Medicare Taxes.

Food Preparation and Serving job search

If you are seeking a better salary, start your food preparation and serving job search today. You can search for jobs by job title and set up job alerts to get notified as soon as an employer posts their vacancy.