It’s not secret that starting salaries in advertising are generally not great, particularly given all the hours of work such jobs typically demand and all that goes into landing a starting role.
We Are Rosie founder Stephani Nadi Olson sparked a conversation around the ad community when she posted to Twitter last Friday asking people to share their starting salary in advertising, while sharing that she entered the industry as an account manager making $55,000.
What was your starting salary in advertising? I got $55K as an Account Manager.
— 🌹 Stephanie Nadi Olson (@StephanieNOlson) December 4, 2020
The post, of course, blew up with responses from around the industry. Unsurprisingly, there are a few absolute horror stories, including the inevitable unpaid internships (in journalism they like to tell us we’re paying paid with “exposure.”)
VBP copywriter Collin Smith actually had three gigs as an unpaid intern before finally landing a junior copywriter role in Boston making $45,000.
unpaid internship. then another unpaid internship. then another unpaid internship. then 45k as a junior CW in boston
— Collin Smith (@CollinPSmith) December 5, 2020
Brand strategist Molly Aaker discusses starting at $28,500 at a photo agency in New York, while having coworkers in photo retouching making just $17,500.
$28.5k at a photo agency in NYC in 2005. Owner was such an a-hole that he paid my 2 colleagues who were retouchers $17.5k each which I’m not even sure is legal. Then told me he didn’t think I was ‘worth $28.5k’ when I asked for a raise. Clearly there was no HR.
— Molly Aaker (@MissMolls) December 6, 2020
Supernode Ventures partner Laurel Touby said she started at Y&R New York’s media department in 1985 making just $12,500.
$12,500 in the Media Planning Department of Y&R in 1985, in George Sharpe’s group.
— Laurel Touby (@laureltouby) December 6, 2020
It’s well worth digging through the rest of the thread to get an idea of the range of starting salaries folks around the industry have accepted for various roles. And while we’re on the subject of transparency around advertising salaries, you could also check out the Google Spreadsheet disclosing advertising salaries.