Benchmark Your Salary and Benefits with BA Benchmarking Data

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The newest round of brewery benchmarking data has been posted, starting with salary and benefits data for a variety of production as well as non-production positions, broken out by both brewery size and full-time/part-time designations. This short post is meant to serve as a supporting document for brewers looking for a deeper understanding on what these numbers mean, as well as their limitations.

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Data Representation

Let’s start with a basic outline of the data set. The wage and salary data are self-response data that come from brewers themselves. Staff (i.e. me) goes through and cleans the data as much as possible to standardize and present it in a usable way. When in doubt, unclear data points or points that are difficult to extrapolate into full year salary or benefits are removed.

Around 500 companies filled out all or part of the survey. Their collective responses cover almost 20,000 employees, of which 7,000 were taproom employees, meaning 13,000 work outside of the taproom. Although it’s very difficult to test a self-selected sample such as this one for representativeness, that large of an overall sample suggests that much of the data should be broadly representative.

Data Limitations

That said, individual positions for particular brewery sizes typically have lower sample sizes and need to be viewed with a bit more skepticism. At times this is because those positions don’t really exist. There aren’t too many full-time IT managers for breweries that make less than 500 barrels, for example. Other times I’d suggest treating individual data points in the context of the surrounding data. Look at the data points above and below in size and consider their average along with the sample average provided. Also remember that salary and bonus/tip data are separate, and that you’ll probably want to aggregate to get a better picture of total compensation. Because of smaller samples within categories, the individual pieces of data (salary and/or bonus/tips) will often look a bit choppier than the aggregated data, which is smoother, particularly for positions with a high percentage of tipped compensation (i.e. taproom servers).

Another Useful Source of Data

Because the sample sizes are also low for individual geographies, it’s tough to provide analysis for this data set by state in the same way we do with the Beer Industry Production Survey. Luckily, there are lots of other tools businesses can turn to here, namely the extensive wage and occupation data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). If you’ve never used this data set, it’s an easy way to get a sense of how wages for a particular occupation might vary for your brewery location. I’d recommend using this in a couple of ways:

  1. The first is to compare occupations covered in the BLS data versus data covered under the Brewers Association (BA) benchmarking. For example, “marketing manager” is a position covered by the BLS. This isn’t to say the BLS data is going to be correct for the brewing industry, but it’s another data point for what people in your area who also hold that position are making on average. It won’t tell you what other breweries are paying for that position, but it will tell you something about the average market rates overall.
  2. The second is to use it to adjust for positions that the BA does cover and the BLS does not – basically brewing-specific positions. One reason we do this benchmarking in the first place is that there isn’t good government data on what you should pay an assistant brewer or cellar worker, for example.

So how would you adjust? I’d recommend finding a set of similar positions and compare their wages in your area to the national average. For example, for a production ops manager in the brewery, you could look at the average national wage for “First-Line Supervisors of Production and Operation Workers (51-1011)” and see if wages for that position in your area are higher or lower. From there, you have an idea as to whether you might need to adjust the BA figures for cost of living or wages in your particular area. Other factors, like your brewery size, the experience of the worker, or other things may matter more, but it’s another tool in your toolkit.

Also note that for brewpub operators, we’ve removed kitchen-specific positions in the last two iterations of this survey because those positions are more than adequately covered in this BLS data.

We hope BA members find this data useful as they benchmark their salary and benefits versus the broader industry. If you have suggestions about how to improve this data in the future, we always love to hear how you are using these numbers and how they could be made stronger.