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2021 U.S. Compensation Trends

2021 U.S. Compensation Trends

Sarah Steimer

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The economy has pushed out plenty of bad news, but there is some good: Competition for creative, digital and marketing talent remains—particularly in the healthcare, technology, manufacturing, insurance, finance and education sectors. 

Robert Half, parent company of The Creative Group, released The Creative Group 2021 Salary Guide, which provides a look at hiring trends and starting salaries for almost 90 positions in the creative and marketing industry. 

The report authors acknowledge the challenging economy and slowed rate of hiring for creative and marketing teams. “Still,” they write, “organizations must pursue projects that will see the business through a downturn, and managers cannot afford to turn a blind eye to top candidates who are now in the job market.” The salaries and data included on these pages come from the 2021 Salary Guide.

Salary Percentiles

25th — Demand: Low

Candidate has little or no experience in the role and is still developing relevant skills. 

50th — Demand: Moderate

Candidate has average experience and the majority of necessary skills. 

75th — Demand: High

Candidate has above-average experience and most or all of the necessary skills. They may also have specialized certifications. 

95th — Demand: Very High

Candidate has especially strong skills, expertise and experience—often more than what is necessary. They have specialized certifications. 

Account manager/executive$46,000$59,500$73,500$89,750
Chief marketing officer$136,500$165,500$199,500$250,750
Vice president of marketing$122,750$146,500$174,250$221,000
Marketing director$88,250$109,000$127,500$158,000
Marketing manager$67,000$78,750$88,500$116,500
Marketing coordinator$42,250$51,000$59,250$73,750
Marketing analytics manager$85,000$97,000$118,000$131,750
Digital marketing manager$68,250$83,250$97,000$125,000
Brand/product manager$72,750$90,500$105,000$132,750
SEO/SEM specialist$50,000$65,750$76,750$96,000
Market researcher$52,500$62,750$80,250$100,000
Social media manager$51,000$60,250$75,750$102,000
E-commerce marketing manager$72,750$85,000$103,250$121,750
Marketing automation specialist$46,750$61,250$76,500$92,000
Customer experience marketing

Top 3 Hiring Changes U.S. Companies Made Because of COVID-19

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54% conducted remote interviews and onboarding.


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42% shortened the hiring process.

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42% advertised fully remote jobs.

Emerging Jobs

  • Growth and performance marketing specialist
  • Inclusion and diversity communications specialist
  • Online reputation manager
  • Virtual events director

Common Benefit Offerings

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60% of workers who transitioned to a remote setup because of COVID-19 said their work-life balance has improved without a commute.

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60% of workers are more motivated to work at a company that values its staff during unpredictable times.

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88% of managers are concerned about retaining valued employees during the pandemic.

48% of employed workers who plan to look for a new job said higher compensation would convince them to stay.

Sarah Steimer is a writer, editor, podcast producer, and yoga teacher living in Chicago. She has written for Marketing News, Chicago magazine, Culture magazine, the Pittsburgh Post- Gazette, and other outlets.