How Much Do Marketers Make in 2016?

Zach Brooke
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Key Takeaways
What? Staffing agency The Creative Group recently released its 2016 Salary Guide for marketing and other creative professionals in North America. 
So what? The salary guide is comprehensive look at marketing salaries across many industries and geographies.
Now what? Marketers that are testing the water for new opportunities should consult the guide for a rough estimate of what kind of compensation they can expect in a new role.

​February 16, 2016

The Creative Group’s 2016 Salary Guide reveals a marketing-related hiring increase, salary expectations and competitive workplace benefits

The Creative Group, a staffing agency that is a subsidiary of human resource consulting firm Robert Half, recently released its 2016 Salary Guide for marketing and other creative professionals in North America. Now in its 16th year, the guide lists projected ranges of starting salaries for 40 marketing-related positions, broken down into agency or corporate organizations.

The data is culled from the thousands of open positions the Creative Group works to fill, as well as surveys of advertising and marketing executives, analysis of the hiring environment, and insights from internal staffing and recruiting communications. 

For 2016, the numbers reflect a 3.8% increase across the board from 2015, according to Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group.

“I think that what we’re seeing is typical behavior of economic recovery, as well as typical behavior as it relates to the diminishing available pool of talent,” Domeyer says. “In our most recent survey, 58% of the executives that we polled said that they’re finding it challenging to find the creative professionals that they’re looking for. That’s the highest that it’s been since 2010.”

Highest Paid Positions

The highest compensated agency position is president, which comes with an average salary between $149,500 and $230,000. Chief marketing officer is the most lucrative corporate position, which a salary ranging from $154,750 to $245,000.  The lowest paid position listed is event/trade show coordinator, with an average salary range of $42,000 to $59,250. 

While these numbers reflect national averages, the survey also adds a “local variance number” that can be used to adjust the overall salary range to specific regions of the country.  The regions with the highest local variance are New York City, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., all of which have local averages at least 1.35 times greater than the national range. El Paso, Texas, Youngstown, Ohio and Duluth, Minn., comprised the lowest local variances, clocking in at less than .8 times of the national average. 

There’s also the question of whether the prices are inflated by the inclusion of temp jobs, which generally pay more by excluding some benefits and to attract people who are otherwise hesitant to accept short-term employment. While Domeyer says that The Creative Group doesn’t release numbers on how many temp jobs they fill compared to full-time jobs, she says that data shows full-time hiring is up in marketing and creative fields.

“What I can tell you is definitely we’ve seen that as marketing budgets have increased … it’s led to a steady rise in full-time hiring with contract-to-hire positions. So we definitely see increased demand for full time placement,” Domeyer says.

Most Challenging Positions to Fill

Brand/product management and marketing research both were included in the most challenging areas for companies to staff. Additionally, marketing automation manager is named as “rising star” position within the creative world, and a separate Robert Half survey names content strategist as one of its top 10 roles to watch throughout all industries, predicting a growth rate of 8.1%.  

“The unemployment rate for marketing managers is 3%, designers 3.5%, and Web developers [are] at 4.4%. So anytime you have low unemployment there’s definitely a situation where to attract and retain top talent, whether for freelance or full-time roles, organizations are paying more,” Domeyer says.

The 2016 Salary Guide also identifies several trends that influence creative staffing this year, including:

  • Marketing budgets are increasing, creating new opportunities for industry professionals
  • A better job seekers market, particularly for highly skilled candidates such as marketing managers with three or more years of experience, due to lower unemployment creating talent scarcity.  
  • Companies have revamped the employee handbook to offer more robust and appealing benefit packages and workplace policies, such as flextime (51% of respondents), work from home policies (43%) and generous PTO (37%).
  • Companies are also looking into assisting employees with career planning and professional development in order to keep their future professional outlook tied to their current organization.
  • Employees show more willingness to job hop, while employers are cautiously warming up to counter offers.

For people looking at these numbers and considering switching employers, Domeyer has a word of advice.

“Compensation is a key factor,” she says. “Organizations need to pay competitively to attract and retain, but individuals also need to consider the work experience, the industry that they’re in, the growth opportunities and look at the situation holistically to determine where the best place for their long-term career growth is.”​

2016 Salary Guide: Advertising & Marketing


Adjusting Salaries for U.S. Cities


Source: The Creative Group 2016 Salary Guide

Author Bio:

Zach Brooke
Zach Brooke is a staff writer at the American Marketing Association. He can be reached at
Add A Comment :

Displaying 4 Comments
Cynthia Nagle
February 25, 2016

REALLY good, detailed info! Very helpful as many of us are heading into annual goal-setting and making our cases for raises in 2016.

Laura Clark
March 1, 2016

I am super underpaid. By a lot. Wow.

Amanda Jeffers
April 11, 2016

There is no way that the salary range for Tucson is 103.5. No. possible. way. I can count on one hand people who may be close.

Margaret Minuth
December 20, 2016

Whenever I see salary guides, I wonder where the bulk of the information is coming from, such as for-profit, non-profit, tech industries. I've been in the industry 20+ years, and during my job search, the salaries have never been close to those published.

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