Salary and hiring trends for creative professionals


[The We are the Creative Industries series: The Creative Industries – video game companies, design, marketing and architecture firms, and talented people who write books, design houses, shoot movies, make art and record music, just to name a few examples – are an important part of Massachusetts’ economy, with $1 billion statewide impact and over 100,000 workers. Click here to learn more.]

By Diane Domeyer

Knowledge is power, and that’s especially true when hiring. Keeping a steady eye on employment and compensation trends can mean the difference between landing that red-hot art director – or missing out.

The following information can help you recruit the best of the best for your creative team. It also can give you a firmer grasp of your own marketability and skills you may want to add to your repertoire.

Skills in demand
Not surprisingly, technological know-how ranks high on many employers’ wish lists. But what skills take the top spots? Here are a few:

Digital expertise. Proficiency in the latest version of the Adobe Creative Suite and Adobe Creative Cloud, as well as HTML5, CSS3 and other markup languages, gives a job candidate a leg up on the competition.

Mobile skills. Professionals who can develop compelling, visually appealing design and content for small screens are in strong demand. Businesses also count responsive design as a top priority.

Familiarity with analytics. As big data grows in importance, companies need people who can use those numbers to spot trends and drive creative strategies.

Experience. Many employers want creatives with at least three years of professional work experience on their resume, although in some cases, they’ll consider recent grads with strong portfolios, and stellar technical and soft skills.

Hot jobs
These positions are expected to provide significant job growth in the creative field:

Digital project managers, who work with clients to plan, organize and execute interactive, web, mobile and multimedia projects.

Interactive marketing managers, who oversee the day-to-day operation of a company’s website, provide analytical review, implement new marketing initiatives and manage the organization’s email marketing program.

Web content writers, who create content that is optimized for the Web, including articles, blog posts, e-newsletters, product descriptions and promotional copy.

Mobile designers, who collaborate with cross-functional teams to create interactive experiences for mobile devices and design content for mobile platforms such as Android and iOS.

User interface designers, who translate high-level requirements into interaction flows and artifacts, and transform them into elegantly designed, intuitive and functional interfaces.

User experience strategists, who research and understand a company’s or client’s business goals, and create design solutions that help meet them.

Front-end web developers, who collaborate with designers to build web-based applications and turn static art into browser-based web pages.

Starting salaries for creative and marketing positions are expected to go up an average of 3.3% this year, according to research conducted for The Creative Group’s 2014 Salary Guide. Some positions – like user experience designers and mobile designers – are expected to see greater gains. The figures contained in the guide are based on the thousands of full-time and freelance placements made each year by The Creative Group’s staffing and recruiting professionals. These experts work with hiring managers and job seekers every day, which gives them unique insight into compensation trends.

Other employment trends
It’s not all about tech skills and digital jobs. Here are two more hiring trends influencing the creative industry:

Traditional design positions are doing well, too. Creative directors with more than eight years of experience can expect a 5% raise over 2013 starting salary levels. Meanwhile, art directors with three to five years of experience will see base pay rise 3.9%, and production directors with eight or more years of experience will see a 4.7% gain. You can use our Salary Calculator to adjust these salaries for your city.

It’s a great time to be a freelancer. More in-house creative departments and agencies are tapping project professionals to support core staff during busy periods and to access specialized skills that don’t exist internally. Companies are also using temporary assignments to evaluate candidates for full-time employment.

For additional information on hiring and salary trends in the creative industry, visit the TCG Blog.

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. She will be speaking at the HOW Design Live conference on “Putting Together and Pitching a Digital Portfolio That Lands You Work” on Thursday, May 15, at 3:15 p.m.

[We are thankful for Global Business Hub’s support of the Creative Industries. Please note: This article does not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development or its Creative Economy Industry Director for the Commonwealth, nor is it an endorsement of any views, products, or opinions contained therein. The author is solely responsible for the content.]