Average Salary: $53,000
Expected Lifetime Earnings: $2,212,644
Caterers typically make between $30,000 and $80,000 a year (source). It's a pretty big gulf, we know. That's because the amount of money you earn depends a lot on where you are and what kinds of events you're hosting. A name-brand large-scale New York City catering company will make a lot more than a small-potatoes conventioneer in Boise, Idaho.
The size of your company is another determining factor. Two to three people are generally enough for small catering companies, which in turn have a dozen or so on-call staffers able to do multiple things.
Large catering companies employ an entire staff of prep cooks, bakers, and servers, and may even outsource for more when they run events for thousands of guests—which is always the proper term for a customer at these things.
You can try jerkfaces if you want, but we'd expect you to be out of business quickly.
Caterers must also expect some slow seasons. In order to weather the small trickle of clientele, caterers must be able to budget their own money. January and February are a notoriously slow time for weddings and parties, so it's important to have an active holiday season before the new year.
Maintaining a budget is essential—meaning that you can't blow all of your cash on an Italian wood-fired oven if you're barely making enough dough.
Sitting at home and watching Top Chef reruns won't get you the clientele. Caterers must market themselves to their community by handing out business cards, establishing connections with vendors, and introducing themselves to venues.
In fact, many venues pick favorites and only use certain caterers. Score a gig with one of them and you could be set for years. It may be lonely at the top, but if you're the best caterer in town, you'll have plenty of dollars to keep you company.