10 Jobs For Foodies: Turn Eating Into Earning
By Beth Braccio Hering, Special to CareerBuilder
For those who don't just eat to live but live to eat, here are 10 jobs where a passion for food is a prerequisite for success:
Bakers work in grocery stores, restaurants, manufacturing facilities and individual bakeries, producing everything from fresh bread to custom wedding cakes. Many workers hone their skills through on-the-job training; others opt for formal culinary classes. The median annual wage for the field is $23,450, but pastry chefs commonly earn double this amount. Good news: The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects increased opportunities for highly skilled bakers because of growing demand for specialty products. (Thank you, Buddy "Cake Boss" Valastro.)
Wolfgang Puck rakes in $16 million a year, but the mean annual wage for chefs and head cooks is a more modest $44,780. In addition to creating dishes that keep diners coming back, restaurant chefs often perform managerial tasks such as ordering supplies and hiring staff. Grocery stores, nursing homes, schools and hospitals also employ chefs. Personal chefs may be self-employed or work as part of a team hired to prepare meals in private homes.
3. Food service manager
Part businessman, part foodie, a food service manager oversees the daily operations of a restaurant or other eating establishment. He coordinates activities between the kitchen and dining area, keeps track of schedules and inventory, arranges facility maintenance, and deals with customer satisfaction. The middle 50 percent of food service managers earn between $36,670 and $59,580, and employers are increasingly looking for candidates with two- or four-year degrees.
4. Catering director
Creating memorable dining for a clients' event is the heart of a caterer's career, but it also pays to be well-versed in contracts, budgets and design before attempting to please a bride-to-be. Catering directors deal with everything from menu planning and ordering food to overseeing setup, service and cleanup. The national average salary for this position is about $49,500.
5. Culinary instructor
In addition to being hired by colleges and specialized schools for their culinary arts, restaurant management and hospitality programs, foodies interested in teaching can become high school home economics teachers or offer enrichment classes through adult education programs, libraries and stores (think "The Art of Choosing Wine" or "Preparing an Italian Feast"). Salary depends on skill, teaching load and type of institution and can range from about $45,000 to $76,000. Enrichment instructors tend to be paid per class and earn roughly $17 per hour.
Guy Fieri might have what foodies consider the ultimate job -- circling the nation looking for outstanding eats on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" -- but other opportunities exist to inform fellow enthusiasts about great culinary experiences. Newspapers, magazines, travel guides, television stations and websites employ people to critique restaurants, find local hot spots and discuss food trends. Full-time wages for reporters can be upward of $50,000 but vary widely by the size and prestige of the outlet, with some employers contracting on a per-piece or per-word basis.
7. Travel guide
From cooking-class vacations in Europe to vineyard-hopping in California, there is a growing demand for leisure pursuits involving unique food and beverage experiences. Travel guides escort individuals or groups on tours through places of interest. They may also plan, organize and promote the adventures. Median hourly wage is about $15.
8. Sales representative
Passion for what you're selling can go a long way toward convincing businesses to stock or use a product. Through trade shows, conventions, cold calls and conversations with existing clients, sales representatives employed by food companies may entice a gourmet shop to carry their line of chocolates, introduce grocery store managers to a new flavor of salsa or get a restaurant to serve their brand of coffee. Median annual wage is about $48,000 (salary and commission).
With a background in food and nutrition, dieticians work in hospitals and other settings to improve patient health through what they eat. Dieticians commonly provide input on losing weight, managing an illness and developing healthier eating habits. Some oversee a facility's food service department. Dieticians hold a bachelor's degree or higher, and licensure requirements vary by state. Increasing public interest in nutrition and the aging of baby boomers may make the demand for dieticians increase over the next decade. Median annual income is about $50,600.
10. Food scientist
From developing ways to make chips crispier to extending the shelf life of canned soup, food scientists use their knowledge of chemistry, biology and other sciences to create and improve food products. Common employers include food processing industries, universities and the government. A bachelor's degree or higher is required. The median annual wage in the field is about $59,500.
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