Food & Drink

Food-Service Jobs That Make You Surprisingly Rich

hot dog cart
<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-159256p1.html?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Kamira</a> / <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/editorial?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Shutterstock.com</a>

Jobs in the service and food industry are generally viewed as stepping stones to future careers, or as a second-choice fallback for careers that haven't panned out. The reality is, there are surprising jobs out there in the food world that garner a salary that would otherwise require multiple degrees and a whole lot of corporate ass-kissin'. And we aren't talking about private chefs, or celebrity dietitians.

If you don't do one of these jobs already, it may be time to re-think some things.

Trader Joe's Captain

Annual base salary average: $104,357
"Captain" is Trader Joe's speak for manager, in case you were wondering if any maritime experience was required. A captain is always promoted within (one step up from mate), and in addition to standard store management, they are required and encouraged to jump on the register, and chat with customers regularly. Insert your own "I am de captain now" joke here. 

Whole Foods manager

Average annual base salary: $107,813
Like TJ's, Whole Foods aims to acquire and keep talent with pay far above industry minimum. In this case, senior managers can even approach $150k. I wonder if they have to help out with the orange peeling?

Hot dog vendor 

Potential annual earnings:$100k+
This is surprisingly feasible -- especially in high traffic areas. Selling 200 hot dogs a day at $2 a pop will net you a yearly income on the plus side of $100,000. Now, obviously you have to be in a spot that can draw hundreds of eaters daily. Or, you can just work at Yankee Stadium, where wieners are sold for approximately $10,000 each. $500 extra for mustard. 

In-N-Out store manager

Average annual base salary:$84,057
In-N-Out may not have to comp celebrities for their endorsements, but the brand certainly knows how to fairly compensate store leaders. While other fast food chains that won't be McNamed will pay around half what In-n-Out does, the Cali-based fast food joint serves up primo dollars, along with debatable fries

bartender making a drink
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Bartender (in the right places)

Potential annual earnings:$100K+
I know what you are thinking: "Hey, my friend Larry is a bartender, and he's definitely not making 100k!" Look, you are right about Larry.  But you are also wrong about the bartending industry. Guys and gals slinging drinks in upscale bars with high traffic can definitely clear $2,000 a week. The point is, Larry should be able to pay you back for that joint-purchase futon you bought in college. 

Australian submarine cook

Potential annual earnings: Up to $200K
OK, this is a weird one. A "Leading Seaman Cook" (hehehe) can end up earning more in a year than the captain of the vessel, when their base salary of $58,806 is supplemented by hefty bonuses for things like $40,000 for "capability." They can also receive tens of thousands of dollars for their "seagoing allowance," which is included in the final tally. At the end of the day, the job pays so well because so few are willing to spend months at a time locked in an airtight steel tub 20,000 leagues under the sea. But still, this is a high number for a comfort food chef. Everything is upside-down in Australia!

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Wil Fulton is a staff writer for Thrillist. He needs to be a submarine cook. Follow him: @wilfulton.