Mostly seen in high-end restaurants and hotel dining rooms, sommeliers are ensured from the get-go a certain degree of prestige and pay. But specific qualifications, particularly the esteemed Master Sommelier certificate, up the ante in big ways.
While an inexperienced sommelier draws around $30,000, a Master Sommelier (of which there are only 112 in North America), earns more like $80,000 — even double that amount in some cases — for his or her ability to distinguish the many nuances of various wines and offer pairings. But there’s a lot to pay in for that title before it will pay out. Master Sommelier courses and tests, for which there’s only a 10-percent passing rate, cost hundreds of dollars a pop. Tasting all that wine doesn’t come cheap either.