Average Salary: $47,000
Expected Lifetime Earnings: $1,962,156
Like most positions in the food service industry, chefs make decent money, though generally not great money. Of course, if they're the head chef of one of the top restaurants in New York City, it's a different story entirely. But that's the exception rather than the rule.
Considering most chefs work in more modest establishments in more modest regions, they're usually looking at a salary of about $47,000 per year on average, and maybe $10,000 less than that if they're still a sous-chef in the process of working their way up (source).
When you think of a chef, you probably envision the guy with the tall white hat working in an upscale restaurant. However, most chefs are actually working in dumpy diners or fast food joints, or in grocery store kitchens or cafeterias. There are many different avenues for chefs, but few of them are super-lucrative. But hey—at least you can save money on meals by snacking on scraps.