Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

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Chef’s Pencil recently published its annual report on employment and wage trends for chefs and head cooks in the US. The report was based on an analysis of data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

One of our main findings was a substantial increase in average chef’s wages. At $52,160 per year, wages for chefs and head cooks reached an all-time high, surpassing the average national wage of $51,960.

Wage growth and remuneration in general is not even across the U.S. Chefs are paid substantially more in some states than in other. But that is hardly surprising, as it is no secret that salaries across the US fluctuate based on location.

We looked at location pay differentials from a new angle to find out where chefs and head cooks are paid substantially more (and less) than the average American.

Here are the top 10 states where chefs and head cooks earn more than the average worker in other occupations:

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10. Florida

Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

  • Average wage for chefs and head cooks in Florida: $52,350
  • Average wage for all occupations in the state: $46,010
  • Difference: +14%

Florida’s culinary industry is one of the most developed in the country, ranking third behind California and New York for the number of jobs for chefs and head cooks.

But in clear contrast with California and New York, chefs and head cooks in Florida are paid substantially more than the average worker. Florida is not a cheap state to live in, though it’s one of the most tax-friendly states in the US.

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9. Pennsylvania

Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

  • Average wage for chefs and head cooks in Pennsylvania: $57,630
  • Average wage for all occupations in the state: $50,030
  • Difference: +15%

The average wage for chefs and head cooks in Pennsylvania is well above the national average (+11%) and well above the average wage for all occupations in the state.

Given Pennsylvania’s cost of living is just slightly above the national average and as there are plenty of job opportunities in the culinary industry, the state is a great option for chefs and head cooks.

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8. South Dakota

Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

  • Average wage for chefs and head cooks in South Dakota: $48,280
  • Average wage for all occupations in the state: $41,800
  • Difference: +16%

South Dakota’s chefs and head cooks are paid 16% more than the average local worker. South Dakota also has a relatively low cost of living.

Taken together, these are two good reasons for someone to start a career in South Dakota. However, there aren’t many job opportunities for chefs in the state. There were only 120 chefs and head cooks in South Dakota, the lowest number in any state in the US.

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7. Missouri

Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

  • Average wage for chefs and head cooks in Missouri: $54,300
  • Average wage for all occupations in the state: $46,460
  • Difference: +17%

Chefs and head cooks are well paid in Missouri, at 5% over the national average, and 17% over the average wage for all occupations in the state.

Given that Missouri boasts the 4th lowest cost of living in the US, it is very attractive place to start a culinary career.

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6. Kentucky

Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

  • Average wage for chefs and head cooks in Kentucky: $50,930
  • Average wage for all occupations in the state: $43,210
  • Difference: +18%

As with other Southern States in our analysis that are known for rather low wages, Kentucky is paying its chefs way above the state’s average. Chefs and head cooks’ wages are 18% higher than the wages for all other occupations here.

Kentucky’s cost of living is well below the national average, which can make it great place for chefs and head cooks to live.

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5. New Jersey

Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

  • Average wage for chefs and head cooks in New Jersey: $70,260
  • Average wage for all occupations in the state: $58,210
  • Difference: +21%

Second only to Hawaii, New Jersey offers some of the highest wages for chefs and head cooks in America. Pay is also substantially higher than the average wage for all occupations in the state.

This should offset the cost of living in New Jersey, which also has some of the highest taxes and one of the priciest housing markets in the country.

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4. Nevada

Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

  • Average wage for chefs and head cooks in Nevada: $56,290
  • Average wage for all occupations in the state: $46,170
  • Difference: +22%

Chefs and head cooks are paid a hefty 22% more than the average worker in Nevada. Tourism is a major employer for chef’s in this state, which employed 3,450 chefs and head cooks in 2018.

The cost of living in Nevada is just slightly above the national average, according to Payscale.

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3. Mississippi

Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

  • Average wage for chefs and head cooks in Mississippi: $48,330
  • Average wage for all occupations in the state: $39,420
  • Difference: +23%

Mississippi is well known for offering some of the lowest wages in America. But chefs don’t have to worry about that. Their wages are 23% higher than the average wage for all occupations in the state.

Mississippi also offers some of the lowest living costs in the US, especially for housing, which can make it one of the most attractive states for a chef to build a career.

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2. West Virginia

Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

  • Average wage for chefs and head cooks in West Virginia: $54,500
  • Average wage for all occupations in the state: $42,370
  • Difference: +29%

Possibly one of the biggest surprises in our analysis, West Virginia offers great salaries for chefs and head cooks compared to local wages. Chefs and head cooks can expect to earn on average $54,500, which is substantially more than the state’s average wage.

Living costs in West Virginia are well below the national average, which is a further reason for chefs to start a career in the Mountain State.

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1. Hawaii

Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

  • Average wage for chefs and head cooks in Hawaii: $74,510
  • Average wage for all occupations in the state: $52,900
  • Difference: +41%

Hawaii is without a doubt the best state for chefs and head cooks in 2019. Not only are wages for chefs and head cooks in Hawaii the highest in the country, they also surpass – by a big margin – the average wage earned by a Hawaiian.

This means chefs can enjoy a comfortable living on the archipelago, in spite of the high cost of living for which Hawaii is well known.

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10 states where chefs earn less than workers in other occupations

Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

These are the states where chefs and head cooks earn the least compared to workers in other occupations.

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10. Maryland

Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

  • Average wage for chefs and head cooks in Maryland: $53,040
  • Average wage for all occupations in the state: $58,770
  • Difference: -10%

Chefs and head cooks in Maryland are paid well above the national average, but Maryland has one of the highest living costs in the U.S. Compared to local wages, chefs are paid up to 10% less.

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9. Oregon

Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

  • Average wage for chefs and head cooks in Oregon: $46,790
  • Average wage for all occupations in the state: $52,000
  • Difference: -10%

Oregon, and Portland, in particular, is well known for its food scene and for being the vegan capital of the US. But its chefs can’t be feeling the love as they are paid substantially lower than the local wage.

While Oregon is more affordable than its southern neighbor, it was recently ranked by CNBC as the 6th most expensive state to live in.

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8. Kansas

Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

  • Average wage for chefs and head cooks in Kansas: $40,510
  • Average wage for all occupations in the state: $45,280
  • Difference: -11%

While slightly more than Idaho, Kansas pays chefs and head cooks some of the lowest wages in the country. And their wages are also substantially lower than local wages.

The cost of living in Kansas may be lower than the national average, but there is a lot of room for growth when it comes to chef’s pay.

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7. Idaho

Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

  • Average wage for chefs and head cooks in Idaho: $38,590
  • Average wage for all occupations in the state: $43,480
  • Difference: -11%

Idaho is the worst paying state for chefs and head cooks in the US. Chefs and head cooks are paid 26% lower than the national average. Although the difference compared to local wages is not as steep, chefs and head cooks in Idaho really don’t have a lot to cheer about.

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6. Alaska

Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

  • Average wage for chefs and head cooks in Alaska: $51,990
  • Average wage for all occupations in the state: $58,710
  • Difference: -11%

Alaska is notorious for its high living costs, so it doesn’t help when chefs are paid much lower than the local average. Nor does it help that the number of chefs and head cooks in the state is quite low (380), meaning it is not easy for chefs and head cooks to find more financially rewarded jobs in the industry.

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5. Massachusetts

Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

  • Average wage for chefs and head cooks in Massachusetts: $56,330
  • Average wage for all occupations in the state: $63,910
  • Difference: -12%

Chefs are paid well above the national average in Massachusetts, but substantially lower than the local average. Given that Massachusetts is one of the most expensive states to live in, getting paid much lower than local wages can put a big financial burden on chefs and head cooks.

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4. Arizona

Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

  • Average wage for chefs and head cooks in Arizona: $43,240
  • Average wage for all occupations in the state: $49,290
  • Difference: -12%

Chefs and head cooks in Arizona are among the worst paid in the US. Arizona has the 6th lowest wages for chefs and head cooks in the country. They are also substantially lower than the average local wage.

We love Arizona’s food scene, and we think chefs and head cooks deserve better pay for the generally delicious food they are preparing for their guests.

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3. California

Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

  • Average wage for chefs and head cooks in California: $51,400
  • Average wage for all occupations in the state: $59,150
  • Difference: -13%

One of the richest states and one of the most expensive to live in, California is paying its chefs and head cooks well below its local average wage.

California had the highest number of employed chefs and head cooks in the country and by a big margin. It was also one of the states with the biggest increase in jobs for chefs and head cooks in 2018. In spite of this market dynamic, chef’s wages haven’t increased much and it’s tough to live on a chef’s salary in California.

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2. Ohio

Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

  • Average wage for chefs and head cooks in Ohio: $41,070
  • Average wage for all occupations in the state: $48,220
  • Difference: -15%

Chefs and head cooks are paid well below the average worker in Ohio, which is even worse compared to the national average wage for a chef, which stands at $51,960. It helps that living costs in Ohio are much lower than the national average, but it may not fully offset the very real pay gap.

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1. District of Columbia

Best & worst paying states for chefs and head cooks

  • Average wage for chefs and head cooks in D.C.: $65,780
  • Average wage for all occupations in the state: $87,920
  • Difference: -25%

Washington D.C.’s ranking might seem questionable, given that D.C. chefs are paid some of the highest chefs’ wages in the country. However, the cost of living in D.C. is notoriously high, especially for housing. Washington D.C. was ranked as the 6th most expensive city in the US, and while it’s not as expensive as Manhattan or San Francisco, it is a very expensive place to live.

This article originally appeared on ChefsPencil.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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