If you want to find the average marketing salary for entry-level positions, do not look to job postings for the answer. In our 2022 Entry-Level Marketing Jobs Report, only 11 out of 150 postings included a salary range. At 7.33%, it is the lowest percentage we have seen in our three years of curating this report. And it also made us wonder: what is an average marketing salary for an entry-level position?
Obviously, the answer to this question is going to be relative. Larger businesses will offer a greater salary, although we do not believe it will be astronomically high. Additionally, we expect companies that require you living in New York City or San Francisco to offer a higher salary. We only reviewed remote jobs in our report, so cost of living should not play a factor.
If you do a quick Google search, Indeed will give you a straight answer: $44,279, as of July 1, 2022. From what we have seen, that number appears to be fair. We typically see marketers start anywhere from $38,000 to $50,000. But again, those vary based on a lot of factors. The greater question is, how does salary correlate to industry and job duties?
In our report, the most common industry hiring digital marketers was software as a service (SaaS), followed by marketing agencies. After that, we saw a slew of heavy hitters like healthcare, finance, and manufacturing. When comparing the software and agency postings to the healthcare, finance, and manufacturing ones, we saw some stunning general differences. Sports and IT services were also among the most common industries, but those featured significant variances in size and scope.
SaaS and marketing agencies probably pay a less than average marketing salary
SaaS and the agencies were usually smaller companies (50 employees or less) and their job postings were, to be frank, scary. If the job was a general digital marketing role, it was almost always an extension of sales. The responsibilities were numerous, but they typically featured a lot of time managing paid search and paid social or optimizing the sales funnel. Many jobs threw around cliche terms like “growth hacker” and “social media rockstar” and the position would be primarily evaluated on revenue growth.
While we are not against marketing as a sales tool, we felt like most of these roles were classic “work hard, play hard” jobs that a lot of young professionals expect out of college. We know it well, ourselves. In fact, the author of this post spent his first job working the dreaded 80-hour week nonstop while making an embarrassingly low wage. But some of the lines in the job description caused us to pause.
“… ability to work tons of hours and under pressure.”
“… work independently with minimal direction.”
“… show value to the team by increasing company revenue 20% in your first year.”
The last one, especially, crushed us. The job posting is not even asking the position to increase the number of leads or subscribers. Rather, they flat-out say it is the digital marketing specialist’s job to increase revenue by 20%. We were appalled.
On one hand, it was nice that the company was honest about its direction. We believe they included that number because, if revenue does not increase by 20%, they will not be able to retain the position. But on the other hand, hundreds of entry-level digital marketers are going to gloss over that point and apply for that job. And somebody may end up in that role without having any clue about driving revenue through digital marketing activities.
On top of that, these jobs likely do not pay particularly well. SaaS companies, in particular, are usually in a startup phase and working off of investor funds if they are trying to grow as aggressively as these posts state. Agencies are no different. As the business adds new clients, new staff are necessary to manage those accounts. In our experience, that means hiring one or two entry-level marketers at really low wages.
There are plenty of positives to working in this environment, however. For one, you will learn more about the industry than in any other situation. Next, there will likely be a clear path of upward mobility. If you can actually bring in that 20% revenue increase, you will be in for a major raise. Finally, you will be a part of a core business team, learning the inner workings of a business and not just your own small corner of marketing.
We do not want to estimate what exactly these industries’ average marketing salary would be, but we are willing to bet that it is lower than the Indeed average while maintaining a higher workload and stress level.
Healthcare, finance, and manufacturing probably pay more for less
If SaaS and marketing agencies work hard and play hard, the other three industries in this article are much more laid back. Based on the postings we saw, positions in healthcare, finance, and manufacturing were nearly all focused on brand awareness and content development. That is not to say those roles are easier, but they will not have their performance tied to revenue.
Between healthcare, finance, and manufacturing, the average company size was also much larger at more than 1,000 employees. This tells us these businesses are stable and they likely have existed for decades, in one form or another. Three finance companies bucked the trend, as they were startups with less than 50 employees. But they, too, followed the trend of hiring for branding and thought-leadership development.
While none of the job responsibilities stood out to us, we did notice that these companies were more likely out of touch with the term “entry-level,” at least from a qualifications standpoint:
“… at least five years managing a corporate blog.”
“… three years overseeing a social media team, preferably at a Fortune 500 company.”
“… previous experience in graphic design, web development, professional writing, and multivariate testing required.”
We saved the best one for last again, because it is so ridiculous that we nearly mentioned the company in this post. The odds of there being an entry-level marketer with more than one of those experiences is slim. The other two qualifications we called out were also crazy, as they are essentially looking for a CMO-level individual, despite putting the position in the “entry-level” section of LinkedIn Jobs.
Again, there are positives to working in a large corporate environment if you can get past their qualifications. The position will likely be low-stress, and you will not be alone in the job. Most of these companies have massive marketing teams, meaning you will have a bevy of resources at your disposal. The biggest positive, though, is the probable salary. While a few of these companies will low-ball your salary, most will offer a competitive wage given the strong work-life balance you may have.
The number one negative, however, is the lack of upward mobility. Large marketing teams make it difficult for individuals to set themselves apart and move up without attrition above them. And while regular bonuses and raises are common in these industries, the overachievers will quickly hit an earnings ceiling.
We believe the healthcare, finance, and manufacturing industries’ average marketing salary to be greater than the Indeed average. In fact, we consider it to be closer to $50,000. However, we would be surprised if it was higher than that.
If all else is equal, what should a job seeker do?
After all of this discussion, we do not believe the average marketing salary will deviate too far from the Indeed average of $44,279. Yes, you may work many more hours for an agency at $38,000 than for a bank at $49,000. But it is also important to consider your own working style, your limits, your needs, and your long-term career goals. When we wrote this article, there were 4,999 open remote entry-level digital marketing jobs on LinkedIn. The job market is ripe enough that you do not have to jump at the first opportunity.
The author of this post worked the long hours for little pay and thought it was among the most formative and informational experiences of his career. Plus, we have seen many marketers start in larger corporations and develop a sense of complacency in their work. Without a clear path upward, some marketers settle for marginal results through minimum effort.
If salary is the number one most important thing to you as an entry-level marketer, then by all means take the best opportunity on the table. But if you want to be a part of a growing ecosystem that could lead to long-term career success, consider the high-intensity agency or startup.
To conclude, we know this post is based on textual data, industry generalizations, and limited personal experiences. But when thinking about an average marketing salary, you would be remiss to omit the other factors of the position. Your first job sets the tone for your career. Look beyond the dollar signs now so you can see more of them later.