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Employment in food preparation and serving related occupations is projected to grow 20 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations, and gain about 2.3 million jobs. Population and income growth are expected to result in greater consumer demand for food at a variety of dining places, including restaurants and grocery stores.

Food preparation and serving related occupations is the lowest paid occupational group, with a median annual wage of $25,500 in May 2020.

BLS provides summary data, including employment projections, for food preparation and serving occupations not shown in the table on this page. That information is available on the Data for Occupations Not Covered in Detail page.

  OCCUPATION JOB SUMMARY ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2020 MEDIAN PAY Help
Bartenders Bartenders

Bartenders mix drinks and serve them directly to customers or through wait staff.

No formal educational credential $24,960
Chefs and head cooks Chefs and Head Cooks

Chefs and head cooks oversee the daily food preparation at restaurants and other places where food is served.

High school diploma or equivalent $53,380
Cooks Cooks

Cooks season and prepare foods, including soups, salads, entrees, and desserts.

See How to Become One $27,250
Food and beverage serving and related workers Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers

Food and beverage serving and related workers take and prepare orders, clear tables, and do other tasks associated with providing food and drink to customers.

No formal educational credential $24,130
Food preparation workers Food Preparation Workers

Food preparation workers perform many routine tasks under the direction of cooks, chefs, or food service managers.

No formal educational credential $26,070
Waiters and waitresses Waiters and Waitresses

Waiters and waitresses take orders and serve food and beverages to customers in dining establishments.

No formal educational credential $23,740

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 8, 2021