Salaries still tied to experience—and gender

Foodservice management on colleges and hospitals make big bucks.

We surveyed nearly 600 foodservice management professionals to find out about their salaries and demographic profiles. It's good news on the salary front if you're a director at a college or hospital, but bad news if you're a woman or working in a long-term care facility. 

The Big Picture’s salary survey uncovered great news if you are in foodservice management (e.g., foodservice director/manager, director of food & nutritional services) on a college campus or in a hospital, and bad news if you are a woman or someone working in a long-term care facility.

The average annual salary for a university director is nearly $72,000. For those in hospitals, it’s almost as good: $71,000. But if you manage foodservice in a nursing home, on average you’re earning just more than $51,000 a year.

On average, the older you are, the more money you will make. The average respondent aged 60 or older is making $69,000 annually, versus someone under 30, who earns about $41,000 a year.

Bruce Haskell, associate director of Culinary Services at Michigan State University, in East Lansing, says that credentials such as a culinary degree can help a person earn a higher salary. “[However], salaries in our market segment, as well as raises, tend to get bundled with rising healthcare costs, so that will continue to be a factor that can limit salaries,” Haskell adds.

The Big Picture also revealed that foodservice is still a man’s world, salarywise. According to respondents, the average male foodservice director makes $70,000, while the average woman in the same role earns $59,000. 

Julie Spelman, director of food and nutrition services at Primary Children’s Hospital, in Salt Lake City, says this continues to be a consequence of women taking time away from their careers to raise families. “Females also, if they have children, would be less likely to move due to their kids being in school,” Spelman adds. However, she suggests an “easy” solution: Women must be willing to go where the jobs are.

“If the husband will follow the wife in the pursuit of a job, the likelihood of her getting paid more is raised significantly,” Spelman says, adding that “it could be the old ‘chicken and the egg’ thing.”

But Christine Rankin, corporate services manager for Hallmark Corp., in Kansas City, Mo., believes things are improving. 

“I think that it is changing for the better for entry-level and middle-management positions,” says Rankin, adding that she can’t speak to the corporate officer level. “Our experience here is that compensation is very fair. It is analyzed by position by the comp and benefits folks, and I don’t believe women are unfairly paid relative to their male counterparts.” 

Show Me the Money

Directors in colleges earn the highest salary, while those in nursing homes/long-term care earn the lowest. Operators who work in a contract-managed location make significantly more money than those who work in a self-operated location ($68,000 versus $64,000, respectively). Directors in the Northeast make the most ($69,000), while those in the central region of the country make the least ($59,000). Men make significantly more than women ($70,000 versus $59,000). 

Segment

Age

The Average Foodservice Director

We surveyed those individuals who are in charge of foodservice operations and asked them to tell us about themselves. This information represents the average foodservice management professional. There were some differences among the market segments. B&I, colleges and retirement homes/senior living facilities were significantly more likely than other segments to have males in the director’s role. Colleges were the least likely segment to have that management role occupied by someone 60 years of age or older. Hospital management operators were significantly more likely than other segments to hold the title of director of food and nutrition services, at 18%. Directors in retirement homes/senior living facilities are significantly more likely than other segments to have a culinary degree, at 37%.  

Sex
55% are female
45% are male

Education
96% have a high school diploma
45% have a bachelor’s degree
31% have an associate degree
18% have a culinary degree
15% have a graduate degree
1% have some other degree
1% have none of the above 

Race/Ethnicity
88% are Caucasian (non-Hispanic)
5% are African-American  (non-Hispanic)
3% are Latino or Hispanic
3% are Asian/Pacific Islanders
1% are Native American
Less than .5% are other racial/ethnic groups 

Age
3% are under 30
21% are between 30 and 44
61% are between 45 and 59
15% are 60 or older

Title
46% are a foodservice director/director of foodservice
18% are a dietary manager/certified dietary manager/directory of dietary
12% are a foodservice supervisor/manager
8% are a director of food and nutrition services
6% are a chef/executive chef
5% are an assistant director
4% are a director of dining services/culinary services
1% are an associate foodservice director 

Salary Increases

The majority of operators have received a salary increase that was not related to a promotion in the past year. Certain demographic profiles influenced when an operator last received a salary increase not tied to a promotion. For example, operators in retirement homes/senior living facilities (60%), B&I (58%) and hospitals (57%) were the most likely to have received this increase in the past year. Directors who work in a contract-managed account were significantly more likely to have received this increase in the past year than those who work in self-operated locations (64% versus 49%, respectively). Men also were significantly more likely than women to have received a salary increase not related to a promotion in the past year (56% versus 47%, respectively). Current salary also affects when you receive a salary increase not related to a promotion. Directors who make $80,000 or more were significantly more likely than those who make less to have received this increase in the past year (65% versus 47%, respectively). Conversely, those who make less than $60,000 were significantly more likely to say their increase came more than three years ago (20%) than those who make more than $60,000 (8%). Those in the Northeast (60%) and West (61%) were significantly more likely to have received a salary increase in the past year than those in the central (47%) or Southern (42%) regions. 

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