Back To Career News

These Are the 5 Happiest Food Service Jobs


High stress. Low pay. Little to no job security. There’s a reason that many of the food service occupations PayScale examined for its recent Restaurant Report rate poorly for job satisfaction or job meaning, or both. But that doesn’t mean that everyone who works in the restaurant business hates their jobs. Here, we examine some of the job titles that reported being happier at work.


(Photo Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives/Flickr)

For the purposes of our discussion here, we’ll look at the top jobs by satisfaction rating, and compare them to each title’s ratings for job meaning and stress — and typical pay:

Do You Know What You're Worth?

1. Banquet Captain

High Satisfaction: 71 percent

High Meaning: 52 percent

Low Stress: 25 percent

Typical Pay: $20.90/hour

2. Sous Chef

High Satisfaction: 66 percent

High Meaning: 48 percent

Low Stress: 24 percent

Typical Pay: $14.10/hour

3. Assistant Restaurant Manager

High Satisfaction: 65 percent

High Meaning: 34 percent

Low Stress: 26 percent

Typical Pay: $12.80/hour

4. Head Chef

High Satisfaction: 62 percent

High Meaning: 53 percent

Low Stress: 25 percent

Typical Pay: $13.50/hour

5. Bartender

High Satisfaction: 60 percent

High Meaning: 31 percent

Low Stress: 41 percent

Typical Pay: $16.30/hour

What can we learn from this? Well, whoever said that the best things in life are free never worked in a restaurant. The five job titles that ranked highest for job satisfaction also made the top of the list for best-paid food service jobs. That dovetails with research that shows that emotional well-being does improve — at least until you reach a salary of $75,000 a year.

It’s worth mentioning, however, that none of the job titles in the report reach a median, average, or typical salary anywhere near that mark. Plus, it appears that there’s almost no such thing as a low-stress food service job. “Low stress” ratings hover around 25 percent for even the happiest food service jobs. That’s a pretty bad rating for jobs that may or may not offer full-time employment, health insurance, or paid time off if you need a mental health day to recover from the pressure. (Pause for food service workers who are reading this and laughing uproariously at the notion of either PTO or mental health days in general.)

Bottom line: food service is a high-pressure industry, even for the people who love it. And regardless of where you stand on the tip wage or minimum wage debate, one thing is clear: boosting pay would lead to happier workers in the jobs that keep us fed when we’re away from our own kitchens.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you love your job? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
Read more from Jen

Leave a Reply

1 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
1 Comment authors
JOBS IN GLOBE Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

Wow@ today i knew the very real post like These Are the 5 Happiest Food Service Jobs. Wonderful information indeed. The five job titles that ranked highest for job satisfaction also made the top of the list for best-paid food service jobs ever. Thanks a lot from

What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.