Mike In Denver: Cooks, even in the best restaurants make almost nothing, usually $10 an hour, maybe with luck, $12 an hour, and they work very hard under pressure. If they've gone to a reputable culinary school they make, let's see...oh yeah! still $12 an hour. If they get a good reputation and have years of experience and move to the big city and get a job as kitchen manager, they can move up to, if they are very lucky, $24,000 to $28,000 a year...and very few ever get to this level. I know a woman who is the restaurant manager in an elite restaurant in Denver. She's been in the industry all her adult life and she is over 50. She has a reputation among restaurants that is enviable. She makes about $40,000 a year and has to pay for most of her health insurance.
Well, the woman you said makes $40,000.00 a year. It's not impossible then to get at that level.
Here in my area I've known people that were cooks for hotel resorts or country clubs making $15.00 a hour starting out.
It depends what kind of culinary arts degree you have also.
Having wine, pastry, and baking certifications help in making yourself a more reputable chef.
Having your cuisine certification will only get you so far. There is much more certification needed to work in a four or five star restaurant passing oneself as a reputable chef.
Not everybody is capable of being engineers, welders, electricians, or mechanics.
There is this sort of public message nowadays that in order to live the good life one has to have a career in one those fields.
Not everybody is master amateurs in terms of science, mathematics, electronics, engineering, and mechanics. Although in this new and improved economy the government tells everybody that they should or ought to be.