NACUFS 2021 Salary Benchmarking Survey tracks current pay in college foodservice

The survey results measure compensation for 33 positions, from director to student worker.
College dining
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The National Association of College & University Food Services released its 2021 Salary Benchmarking Survey on Thursday, detailing pay scales for college foodservice employees, from director down to student worker.

NACUFS reported that compensation remained strong but flat for 2021—good news in a year when college foodservice was disrupted by a global pandemic. Respondents indicated an average salary increase of 1.78%.

The highest pay was reported for foodservice directors or executive directors, with a median salary of $153,000 and a high of $165,000. This job description typically covers foodservice and one or more auxiliary services, such as housing.

The median salary for the director of foodservice was $108,665, with a reported high of $136,656. This employee is described as the senior operating manager or department head of the dining services program.

Median salaries for associate directors came in at $90,000, with a high of $107,000, while assistant directors were paid $74,590 as a median and $89,460 on the high end.

Hourly foodservice workers saw the highest percentage pay raise in 2021, with wages increasing 5.78% over 2020 rates. The median hourly wage ranged from $14.33 to $16.10, depending on position.

While COVID had a huge impact on college dining service styles, it didn’t seem to have a negative effect on salary for the majority of respondents. According to the survey, 39.1% of respondents said pay changes occurred as usual. Slightly more—43.8%—experienced a pay freeze or no anticipated increase or decrease.

The NACUFS data was derived from a variety of data sets that includes all institutions, regions, community size, annual foodservice revenue, public/private status, two-year/four-year structure, self-operated/contract managed and the number of full-time equivalent employees.

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