Sommeliers are not born; they must be educated, tested, and certified before earning the title. This is the purview of the wine instructor and a sommelier school. This article focuses on wine educator jobs and how to get one.
Being a wine educator opens up a wide swath of career opportunities. While running a wine school or an event company are obvious career choices, there are plenty more. Wine education is deeply valued in all wine companies, and most view it as critical to their bottom line. In addition, this type of certification gives you a competitive advantage for most wine jobs.
Wine Educator Salaries
For many in the trade, education is a facet of their job. Pretty much every winemaker, sommelier, distributor, and importer spends significant time engaged in wine education. Those salaries are not included here.
Wine educators staff every wine school and wine event company. The following figures reflect those current salaries. Paysa & ZipRecruiter numbers are valid but don’t show the whole picture. Also, this data only includes large companies, like Trader Joe’s and the Robert Mondavi winery. We don’t include WSET jobs, as their are too few positions available at the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.
Most certified wine educators work for smaller firms. In our survey of wine educators working at a range of companies in the U.S., the average wine educator earns $50k annually, while the top wine educators can earn between $110k – 180k. (These numbers do not include the chief executives of wine schools, whose salaries often reach the mid-six figures.)
A Wine Educator earns an average of $47,837, ranging from $37,066 at the 25th percentile to $56,153 at the 75th percentile, with top earners (the top 10%) earning more than $67,694. Compensation is derived from 1K profiles, including base salary, equity, and bonuses.Paysa
The average monthly earnings for the Wine Educator jobs category in the United States is $3,576 a month.
While ZipRecruiter is seeing monthly salaries as high as $6,958 and as low as $1,458, the majority of salaries within the Wine Educator jobs category currently range between $2,583 (25th percentile) to $3,917 (75th percentile) across the United StatesZipRecruiter
Certified Wine Educator Jobs
Certified wine educators work in every sector of the wine trade but are especially valued in sales positions. As a result, companies with significant marketing arms invest heavily in the education space. One of the major certification bodies (Society of Wine Educators) is funded by a cadre of multinational wine corporations.
Sommelier Certification Agencies
The Wine & Spirit Education Trust and the National Wine School require its educators to complete a teacher training course of the three agencies that offer sommelier degrees. The Court of Master Sommeliers does not require training, but most instructors are certified. These are top-tier jobs working with knowledgeable and creative teams to develop and implement wine courses across the globe.
Almost all wine schools in the United States expect their instructors to be certified wine educators. There are currently over 50 wine schools in America, and that number is rising. Many seasoned wine educators go on to start their wine schools. According to our study, these wine educators are some of the top earners in the field.
There is one indisputable fact: there is no better job than working at a wine school. There are only a handful of these jobs in any city, so they are highly sought after. Unfortunately, these jobs are rarely open to the public. Typically they are invite-only, with top spots reserved for alumni.
I have a small staff, and I can’t take a chance on an unknown wine instructor. I want someone who I know has been trained sufficiently and has the same outlook on wine as I do. Frankly, there are too many blowhards out there, which is why I always look to our pool of former students to fill openings.FVLTD
Across America, wineries employ a vast number of certified wine educators. There are over eight thousand wineries in America, and nearly everyone has at least one wine educator position. Many of the most successful people in the wine trade started out working in a tasting room, then jumped to manage the wine education programs for winery staff.
Being a trained wine educator is a competitive advantage for anyone looking to get into wholesale wine sales. The main objective is to gain placements on a restaurant wine list, especially in the wines-by-the-glass section. This is often accomplished by educating the front-of-the-house team at restaurants. Depending on how valuable the restaurant is, they may even go further and host educational seminars for customers.
If you’ve read our article How to Become a Sommelier, you know that wine education is a big part of the job.
The best wine educators are frequently found writing about wine on platforms that range from traditional publishing to online journals. In addition, former sommeliers such as Kevin Zraly have raised the bar for wine education in the U.S.