Chipotle Is Hiring: What's It Really Like To Work There?

"Chipotle, shame on you! Farm workers deserve rights too!" shouted protesters in New York on Wednesday. It was a "national day of action," and labor advocates across the country tried to pressure Chipotle, for the sixth year, to sign onto a "fair food" agreement, which they say would ensure better conditions for the restaurant chain's tomato growers in Florida.

But at Chipotle Mexican Grill's 1,200 locations, there's little controversy about worker conditions. Chipotle isn't a normal fast-food restaurant; under its "Food With Integrity" mantra, the chain demands that a certain percentage of its ingredients are organic and local, and it serves more naturally-raised meat (not pumped with hormones or antibiotics) than any other restaurant chain in America. And Chipotle treats its employees with integrity too -- at least that's what many of them say.

A crew member is paid an average of $8.51 an hour, according to, compared to $7.63 at McDonald's, $7.69 at Wendy's, and $7.80 at Burger King. Still, some Chipotle employees gripe anonymously on that they're underpaid, given the intensity of the grind.

"Full-time effort for part-time pay," wrote one crew member in Brunswick, Ohio. "The amount of pressure for a burrito joint is unheard of!" chirped another in Austin, Texas. And true enough, most Chipotle employees work full-time hours, Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said, although schedules can vary.

All that effort can bring its rewards, though. Ninety-eight percent of managers are promoted from within, according to Arnold, and it isn't rare for a crew member to move up the ladder within a matter of months, and become a general manager by year's end.

And that's no PR shtick. "Being promoted is easy if you put the time into learning everything you need to and remain invested with the company," said one service manager in Capitola, Calif. "Managers take a personal interest in ways to help you succeed and it's from the ground up."

Successful general managers can then go on to become restaurateurs, complete with company car and stock options, Arnold added. Figures compiled by put the general manager/restaurateur salary in the range of $41,000 to $60,000, but Arnold says bonuses can push that number into the six-figures.

Chipotle offers other benefits too: access to health insurance, 401(k) participation, bonuses, uniforms and, if you want, a free braised carnitas crispy taco on every lunch break. And while the work can be exhausting, and the assembly lines often understaffed, employees say, it also can actually be a pretty good time.

More: 10 Things To Leave Off Your Resume

"They STRIVE for a great culture," wrote one former general manager in Minneapolis on That might be because managers don't focus primarily on their applicants' restaurant experience, but rather on 13 specific personality traits.

It may sound a little cultish, but apparently it works. "These characteristics, such as being honest, happy, infectiously enthusiastic and the like are things that can't really be taught by the time someone is an adult; you either have them or you don't," explained Arnold over email. "We can teach you how to do the jobs in our restaurants -- in fact, we prefer to -- but we can't teach you those traits."

Are the employees at Chipotle really honest, happy and infectiously enthusiastic about their work? AOL Jobs swung by a Chipotle restaurant two blocks from our office for some field research. "How do you like working here?" we asked the guy who rung up our lunch.

"It's great," he replied. "The food is SO GOOD."

AOL Jobs took a bite of our veggie burrito, and nodded.

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I work there and my restaurant is great, close to being a restauranteur.

My GM is Hispanic and my apprentice is black. In fact, 35%+ of my co-workers are minorities. I've been late by a couple minutes multiple times and the only thing that's ever been said to me is to work on it and to make sure I call and let them know if I'm going to be late so they don't worry I'm not coming in. When I was trained it was me who was worried about speed and I was told that yes it's important but while I'm learning they certainly don't expect me to meet the optimal time expectations and they're more worried about the quality of the job first than my speed. My managers have been super supportive as understanding, practicing what they preach.

Since I've started 4 months ago the only people who have been fired are one manager- for not being an empowering leader and not treating employees in a way that represents the culture Chipotle is striving for- and the other, a crew member for being a low-performing and not exhibiting the 13 characteristics we look for.

I'm on my way to a promotion at the moment (in training for it.) It's very easy to move up if you are the right person and have all the characteristics.

Also our food is THE best. It was already my favorite before I started and I always said I could eat it every day and not be sick of it. Now I do and I'm still not sick of it.

Best company I've worked for BY FAR. I can back them up 95%. My only complaint is that crew members and lower level employees should be paid more because we work HARD and it IS demanding.

Besides that though, I absolutely adore this company and working here. Love. Love. Love.

April 01 2015 at 3:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cindy Pearson Lewis

What a complete joke. Chipotle does not care about their employees. It's the worst restaurant culture I have ever been exposed to. They hire and fire at the drop of a hat, no warning. Unreal expectations and give NO ONE a chance to learn or train. If you don't do everything in breakneck speed the first time you are trained YOU'RE FIRED. If your one minute late (literally, one minute) after 6 months of coming in 15 minutes before your shift YOU'RE FIRED. DO NOT CHOOSE CHIPOTLE AS AN EMPLOYER, UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE LOOKING FOR ANOTHER JOB IN A MONTH, because they will fire you. They love firing people. It's a very strange culture indeed.

November 13 2014 at 3:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

who was paid to write this? look at all the restaurateurs that chipotle has and what percentage of them are of African American decent? out of 1,200 stores? maybe one. Literally. If you are black and work for Chipotle, speak up and tell everybody the truth about how you are treated!

October 20 2014 at 1:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dontworry's comment

Seriously?? Are you stupid? I'm black and I work for Chipotle and I think you should shut up. Anyone who puts in the work can become a Restaurateur--if there aren't any black ones, that is no one's fault but the black people who either don't work there, or who do work there and simply don't have what it takes to become one! No one owes you anything! They don't have to promote ANYONE OF ANY COLOR SIMPLY BECAUSE OF THEIR COLOR! Quit playing the race card and making the rest of us look bad. You wonder why people are racist towards you.

November 13 2014 at 3:47 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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