2011 ACF Salary Study

The 2011 ACF Salary Study, conducted by Industry Insights, Inc., provides valuable information about the state of the culinary industry and what factors influence ACF members’ salaries. Here are five of the survey’s key findings:

  1. The industry’s unemployment rate is low.
    • Only 3% were not employed but actively seeking employment, compared with the January 2012 national unemployment rate of 8.3%. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  2. Corporate executives/managers and research chefs bring in the highest median base salaries.
    • Corporate executives/managers earned $97,000, followed by research chefs ($90,000) and administrators in education ($74,000). Executive chefs earned $66,000.
  3. Holding ACF certification increases average compensation.
    • Respondents with at least one ACF certification reported 7% higher average total compensation than those without an ACF certification.
  4. The gender pay gap is significant.
    • The median base salary for male corporate executives/managers was $28,000 higher than that of a woman. In terms of total cash compensation, men earned $38,500 more than female corporate executives.
    • Male executive chefs earned nearly $18,000 more than women executive chefs.
  5. Where you live affects how much you earn.
    • The highest median base salary was in the middle Atlantic ($65,000), followed by New England and the Pacific (each $60,000).

ACF members can view a free online version of the results on the Members Only page.

Industry Insights Survey Methodology

In October 2011, an email invitation was sent to approximately 21,000 culinary professionals. In total, 2,711 completed online submissions were received by the November deadline, representing a response rate of 13%. Data was checked manually and by a specially designed computer editing procedure. Final results were formulated by Industry Insights, Inc., and the report was completed in December 2011.

Previous Study

The last ACF Salary Survey was conducted in 2008 and found that:

  • The average ACF member made an annual salary of $54,100.
  • On average, chefs who held the Certified Executive Chef (CEC) or Certified Executive Pastry Chef (CEPC) designation or higher earned $10,900 more per year.
  • Corporate organizations typically paid higher salaries than other places of employment.
  • Those employed in the Northeast and Western regions were paid slightly more than in the Midwest and South.

The 2008 ACF Salary Survey was conducted by Readex Research.