2014 Salary Trends: What Will Your Skills Command in the Coming Year?

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Ever wonder, “How much are my skills worth?” If you’re like most advertising and marketing professionals, it’s a question that crosses your mind – probably frequently. Fortunately, you can get some insight from The Creative Group’s newly released 2014 Salary Guide.

The Salary Guide features average starting salary ranges for more than 130 advertising and marketing, design, interactive, and public relations positions, which can be customized for more than 130 U.S. cities. It also features an overview of in-demand positions and skills, and a sampling of job descriptions. The information is based on a range of sources, including actual placements of creative professionals in 2013 by The Creative Group across North America, and an analysis of current and future hiring trends.

So, How Much Can You Expect to Earn in 2014?

Average starting salaries for creative and marketing professionals are projected to increase 3.3 percent over 2013 levels. Some positions, like market researchers, media directors and digital marketing strategists, will see even greater gains.

Here are some more creative positions expected to see an above-average bump in pay in the coming year:

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You can find job descriptions for these – and all positions listed in the Salary Guide – at creativegroup.com/tcgjobs.

Piping Hot Creative Positions and Skills for 2014

Companies continue to place a premium on digital skills as they invest more dollars in online initiatives, particularly mobile and social media. In fact, The Creative Group 2014 Salary Guide shows that positions requiring interactive expertise, like user experience (UX) designers and mobile developers, are seeing the greatest salary gains among all the positions listed in the guide.

But employers seek more than technical expertise and a digital portfolio that backs it up – soft skills matter, too. When interviewing for creative positions, hiring managers look for candidates with strong problem-solving and communication abilities. Those who can think creatively and find innovative solutions to business problems – and present their ideas in a clear, compelling and convincing manner via verbal and written communication – are in strong demand.

Following are five in-demand positions for the coming year, as well as starting compensation levels based on research from The Creative Group 2014 Salary Guide:

  • User experience (UX) designer – A greater focus on developing positive online customer experiences is resulting in heightened demand for UX designers proficient in balancing technical functionality and visual elements. The starting pay for these individuals is expected to rise 7.5 percent to a range of $78,000 to $120,000.
  • Mobile designer – As the mobile market continues to expand, companies seek individuals who can design and develop websites and web applications that are mobile-friendly and responsive and scalable across a spectrum of devices, screen sizes, platforms and orientations. These individuals can expect starting salaries in the range of $66,000 to $103,000, a 6.3 percent increase over 2013 levels.
  • Web analytics specialist – Professionals who can analyze website, user, traffic and campaign data to identify opportunities for improvement are in demand. Web analytics specialists with three or more years of experience will see an average base salary of $78,000 to $102,000, a 3.9 percent increase over 2013 levels.
  • SEO/SEM specialist – Companies seek SEO/SEM specialists who can develop strategies to optimize web projects for search and increase online visibility. Those with one to three years of experience are projected to see starting salary gains of 3.8 percent, to a range of $50,250 to $66,250.
  • Digital project manager – As organizations strive to build more integrated campaigns that include print, online, broadcast, video and social media elements, they seek digital project managers who can help plan, organize and execute multifaceted projects. Base compensation for these individuals will be between $73,000 and $108,000, an increase of 3.7 percent.

The Perks

Why are salaries rising, despite sustained high unemployment rates? For starters, finding creative talent with in-demand skills remains difficult. In fact, more than half (52 percent) of 400 advertising and marketing executives surveyed by The Creative Group said it’s challenging to find skilled creative professionals today. As a result, companies are making a greater effort to secure and retain top performers.

In addition to offering competitive compensation, employers are sweetening the pot with perks such as remote or flexible work options to help employees achieve a better work/life balance. So, when evaluating a job offer, be sure to look at the whole package, including on-the-job training and opportunities for career growth, to determine if the job is a good fit for you. If you’re employed and hoping for a raise but discover your employer isn’t in the position to increase your pay, see if there are other aspects of your job you can negotiate.

Want to learn more? Visit The Creative Group Salary Center for additional news on hiring trends for 2014 and access to the Salary Calculator, which allows for the quick computation of average starting salaries for a single position and city.

Diane Domeyer is executive director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals with a variety of firms. For more information, visit creativegroup.com.

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