Recruitment specialist Aquent releases marketing industry salary averages

  • Senior ad professionals along with marketing directors have seen a 9% salary drop in real terms in the past five years
  • Junior designers see the biggest pay rises this year with an average increase of 12%
  • Those in mid-level positions have seen wages stagnate, average increase was a mere 2%
  • For half a decade, pay for content and copywriting has stagnated. Wages went up by an average of 1.86%, well below UK inflation (2.48%)

Today, Aquent, the specialist recruiters for advertising, creative, digital and marketing talent, announces the launch of its 2020 salary guide. The data has been compiled from 2019 UK placements the company has made for advertising and marketing professionals, including creatives and digital specialists.

Aquent has also analysed UK advertising and marketing sector salaries from the past five years and the following trends have emerged.

Half decade of pay stagnation at the top

The advertising sector has faced a challenging half decade with disruption hitting the industry in several forms from in-housing to the dramatic domination of digital advertising by the duopoly. Many experienced roles have gone without a salary rise in the past five years, and thus seen in real terms a pay drop of 9%. At senior levels: creative directors (£92,500 on average), brand managers (£75,000), account directors (£60,000), marketing directors (£95,000) and content strategists (£72,000) have had not had a pay bump in the past 5 years.


Across the board pay freezes for content and copy writing over the past five years have resulted from the influx of writing talent from traditional media. Only junior content managers and copywriters (up 6% and 8% respectively to £27,500) and senior copywriters (5%) and copy editors (10% to £55,000) have seen their wages increase in the past five years.

Design on Design

We live in a visual economy and demand for design talent has soared. Creative and design professionals have seen inflation busting rises over the past half-decade with graphic designers up 30%, art workers up 32% and motion graphic designers up 33%.

It’s all about the user

At midweight levels (between four and ten years of experience) the most dramatic five year changes have seen UX Architects, UX Leads and Front End Developers pay go up 26%, 18% and 14% respectively. In the past year, professionals in mid-level roles have felt a squeeze. On average mid-level ad roles increased by just 2%, below the UK inflation rate (2.48%), meaning real-term wages actually decreased

Entry-level workers in UX & Development are still the best paid, with starting roles averaging around £32,500, and UX designers earn the highest junior wage at £38,500. Employers are reporting that UX specialists are especially tricky to find and hotly fought over, explaining why they’ve managed to maintain consistently high wages 


Employers competing for new talent

It remains a candidates market, particularly at entry level roles as companies compete for new recruits. Junior positions across the board have seen much bigger pay rises this year (6.95% average in the past year) compared to mid-level (2%) and senior (2.22%) roles. Low-level design roles have had the biggest average pay rise across the board at 11.5% year-on-year. Of these integrated designers have enjoyed a healthy 16.7% increase to £28,000.

While junior designers have seen the biggest percentage increase from 2019, entry-level workers in UX & Development are still the best paid. An average role will pull in £35,250 per annum.

Stuck in the middle

While junior entrants had a very positive year in terms of pay, ad professionals in mid/senior-level roles have felt a squeeze. On average mid-level roles increased by just 2%, below the UK inflation rate (2.48%), meaning real-term wages actually decreased.

Aliza Sweiry, UK managing director, Aquent, comments, “2019 has been a positive year for people trying to break into the advertising and creative industries. Excellent junior pay rises point to employers keen to secure new talent and willing to put more resources into employee growth and development than in hiring more senior staff.

“However with senior pay packets seeing no movement over the past five year’s ad agencies and brands alike will need to take heed. Increased competition from management consultancies and a growing trend for senior execs to escape the rat race for freelance opportunities will necessitate improved offering in the year ahead.”

Aquent Salary Guide 2020
All salary figures contained below are averages
ART DIRECTOR £28,000 £41,000 £55,000
GRAPHIC DESIGNER £28,000 £36,000 £40,000
DIGITAL DESIGNER £28,000 £36,000 £40,000
PRESENTATION DESIGNER £27,000 £37,500 £45,000
INTEGRATED DESIGNER £28,000 £36,000 £40,000
PACKAGING DESIGNER £27,000 £37,500 £40,000
ARTWORKER £27,000 £32,500 £40,000
RETOUCHER £35,000 £40,000
VIDEO EDITOR £28,500 £38,500 £52,500
VIDEO PRODUCTION COORDINATOR £26,500 £31,500 £45,000
MOTION GRAPHICS DESIGNER £28,500 £36,000 £47,500
3D ANIMATOR £27,500 £32,500 £42,500
UX DESIGNER £38,500 £52,500 £70,000
USER RESEARCHER £33,500 £48,500 £70,000
PRODUCT DESIGNER £33,000 £47,000 £60,000
FRONT END DEVELOPER £36,000 £50,000 £60,000
DIGITAL PROJECT MANAGER £34,000 £41,500 £57,500
TECHNICAL PROJECT MANAGER £34,000 £44,000 £65,000
PRINT PROJECT MANAGER £28,000 £37,500 £47,500
ACCOUNT MANAGER £35,000 £46,500
STUDIO MANAGER £30,000 £41,000 £57,500
TRAFFIC MANAGER £31,500 £37,500 £45,000
DIGITAL MARKETING MANAGER £31,500 £45,000 £70,000
INSIGHTS ANALYST £33,000 £39,500 £67,500
MARKETING DATA ANALYST £36,000 £50,000 £60,000
SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER £29,000 £41,500 £65,000
COMMUNITY MANAGER £27,500 £35,000 £47,500
EVENT MANAGER £27,500 £42,500 £67,500
SEARCH MARKETING SPECIALIST £31,000 £43,500 £65,000
BRAND MANAGER £32,500 £47,500 £75,000
ECOMMERCE MARKETER £30,500 £45,500 £67,500
CRM MARKETER £30,000 £45,000 £67,500
CONTENT STRATEGIST £37,500 £52,500 £72,500
CONTENT MANAGER £27,500 £37,500 £55,000
COPYWRITER £27,500 £37,500 £57,500
HEAD OF COPY £72,500
COPY EDITOR £29,500 £39,000 £55,000
WEB EDITOR £31,000 £42,000 £54,000


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