Here's How Much Sommeliers Really Make

Becoming a sommelier is actually quite difficult if you plan to be certified to the upper levels of the profession. Though there are only four levels of certification, each one requires a ton of studying and work to prepare the future sommelier for the rigorous test, which can include blind tasting and written exams (via Wine Enthusiast).

One professional sommelier, Brahm Callahan, told Food + Wine, "we have to be so informed to do our jobs. That doesn't mean anything to my guests... They don't need to know how much time it took me to get where I am, or the time, effort, and energy I spent working and studying. That's irrelevant to them." While that's certainly the tougher side of the job along with all of the physical labor of moving the cases of bottles, it's also true that sommeliers do fairly well to have an unconventional job. 

In fact, they are some of the highest-paid members of the hospitality industry if their certification is high enough, according to Binwise. According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for sommeliers, as of March 2021, was $68,139 or $33 per hour. At the higher end of the range was a salary of $134,000, while those at the bottom of the scale were making just $19,000 annually.

Sommeliers are paid based on skill level

While those might seem like vast extremes for the salaries of sommeliers, you should know the pay is largely broken down by their level of certification. So, at the extreme end of $19,000, the sommelier might not be certified, but rather an enthusiast. The upper end of the bottom 25th percentile of sommeliers is $47,000, according to ZipRecruiter, which could reflect the lowest tier of certified sommeliers. As for the upper 75th percentile, the salary ranges from $81,500 to $114,500, which is the marker for the top 90th percentile and demarks the most advanced sommeliers.

According to Binwise, salary clearly increases with the level of certification. A level one sommelier can expect to make around $50,000 while a level two salary is $60,000 to $70,000. Level three bumps up again to $70,000 to $80,000. Finally, master sommeliers, which is a certification that's very hard to achieve, tend to make over $150,000 per year. There are only 269 master sommeliers in the world, per Binwise.

However, if you want to work with wine but don't want to do the studying and investing it takes to become a sommelier, consider becoming a wine sales manager. According to Binwise, they make around $77,000 per year.