If you’re looking to become a chef or a head cook, Hawaii is a good place to be.
A recent report by Chef’s Pencil shows that Hawaii’s chefs on average make $74,510 per year, more than any other state in the country. New Jersey came in second, where chefs can expect to make $70,260 on average.
When broken down into metro areas, Honolulu took the top spot in the nation, where chef salaries average $83,250. Second place went to the Sebastian-Vero Beach metro in Florida ($75,450), just barely edging out the Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina metro ($75,430) by 20 bucks.
Perhaps more pertinent than the national comparison is the local one. Chefs in Hawaii make 41% more than the state’s average worker, the largest differential in America.
What’s behind these HI wages?
According to Tom Jones, chairman of the Hawaii Restaurant Association, it’s the prevalence of high-end hotels. “No question about it — if there weren’t a lot of hotels here, the wages all around would be much lower,” Jones told Pacific Business News.
Yet whenever finance is discussed, Hawaii’s cost of living looms. A CreditLoan report from earlier this year showed that Hawaii has the highest average menu prices in the country, and a WalletHub ranking of the best foodie cities in the country placed Honolulu at number 10 for quality, but number 178 for affordability. Plus, the average chef salary in New Jersey — the highest-paying state after Hawaii — would be the equivalent of a six-figure salary in Honolulu, relative to cost-of-living.
Ultimately, if the food is broke da mouth, it’s up to individuals to decide how much they’re willing to break their wallet.
You can read the full Chef’s Pencil report here.
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