One wine sommelier definition is a highly-educated, certified wine professional. Yep, that means they have to take a sommelier test. And that wine knowledge pays off. It’s not only an interesting and exciting career track. It can be downright lucrative. You can even watch a sommelier documentary if you're so inclined.
A master sommelier salary is one of the highest in the hospitality business, while an advanced or certified sommelier salary is competitive, too. Each sommelier level tends to be higher than a bar manager salary.
Here’s a look at the median of each wine sommelier salary, according to the sommelier certification levels of the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS). We’ll also look into some common job titles sommeliers have and what they typically pay.
How Much Does a Sommelier Make?
According to the latest sommelier salary survey data, the median wine sommelier salary across all four levels of certification is $62,000.
But there is substantial variance, especially at the top level.
How Much Do Level 1 Sommeliers Make?
The national median level 1 sommelier salary according to the sommelier salary survey is $55,000. A level 1 sommelier is one who has passed the Introductory Sommelier Course and Examination. That’s the very beginning sommelier course the CMS offers. This certification is entry-level and held by newly-minted sommeliers and those with around 1–3 years of experience in the wine industry.
Certified Sommelier Salary
The median Certified Sommelier salary is $62,000, which is right at the median sommelier salary level. This is the 2nd level of CMS certification and is typically held by sommeliers and wine professionals with around 3–7 years experience.
Advanced Sommelier Salary
The median Advanced Sommelier salary is $87,000. That puts Advanced Sommeliers in the top 20 percentile of earners in the U.S. Not too shabby. Advanced Sommeliers typically have 8 or more years in the wine industry. This is the 3rd level of CMS certification.
Master Sommelier Salary: How Much Does a Master Sommelier Make?
Those with a Master Sommelier title earn a median salary of $164,000. This is the fourth and final sommelier certification from the CMS. Quite a leap from the previous level. But for good reason when you look at the list of master sommeliers. There are only 269 in the world.
Like Advanced Sommeliers, Master Sommeliers usually have at least 8 years experience as working wine professionals. Often much more.
Wine Sommelier Salary: Other Titles
But being a sommelier, whether Introductory, Master, or in between, doesn’t only qualify you for a job as a sommelier. There are lots of other titles sommeliers get. To get another perspective on sommelier salaries, let’s look at the median salaries for three job titles sommeliers are perfectly suited, and hired, for: wine director, wine consultant, and wine buyer.
For each job title, we aggregated average national salary data from ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Neuvoo to come up with a truly representative salary estimation.
Wine Director Salary
Wine directors in the United States typically earn $70,048 per year. You can almost think of wine directors as sommeliers for an entire restaurant or hotel group. Where a sommelier sets a restaurant’s wine list and chooses the wine for a table of diners, a wine director chooses the wine program for an entire business or portfolio of businesses.
Wine Consultant Salary
The typical salary for a wine consultant is $53,422, though we must consider that many of those who report freelance wine consulting earnings are likely not working as wine consultants full-time. In fact, according to GuildSomm’s sommelier salary report, Certified Sommeliers can charge about $300 per day for consulting services. While Advanced Sommeliers can charge $500 and Master Sommeliers $1,000.
Wine Sales Manager Salary
Wine sales managers make an annual salary of $77,680. There’s always more money in sales, so this isn’t much of a surprise. Wine sales managers oversee the pricing and sales for wine producers and distributors.
How Much Do Sommeliers Make?
Here's a chart with the average sommelier salary for each level:
Regardless of the title you’re hired for after your sommelier training, we can draw some general conclusions from all this wine sommelier salary data. If you’re a level 1 sommelier, you’ll make a salary of around $40–50k. If you’re a Certified Sommelier, or a level 2 sommelier, you’ll make a salary of around $60–70k. An Advanced Sommelier, or level 3 sommelier, will pull in a salary of about $70–80k.
But Master Sommeliers, or level 4 sommeliers, are putting their knowledge of wine storage, what are tannins in wine, and how to decant wine to use all the way to the bank. They are in their own league. So much so, that they’re almost statistically irrelevant to the other sommelier levels. Master Sommeliers make around $150k. That makes them some of the, if not the, highest paid service industry professionals. They can also become a wine negociant and help procure wine (for even more money).
But getting a sommelier certification and becoming a sommelier doesn’t have to change your whole career trajectory. It can make you a more competitive bar manager. From knowing the ins and outs of how to price wine by the glass and set a good wine bottle price, to being adept at overseeing your bar or restaurant’s service standards (and hitting that legendary standard 5-ounce wine pour each time).
And being a better bar manager means running a more profitable bar. You may even be able to increase sales of things like gluten free wine brands. And who doesn’t want that?