Pay day

This year’s salary survey trawl reiterates recent reports about how design groups must take a hard look at their payrolls. Sara Manuelli sums up the findings with research by Kerstin Kühn and Natalie Jeffery

The job market is still suffering from an uncertain economic climate. And, according to Design Week’s annual salary survey, pay in most areas of the design business has remained flat – like last year – or even decreased. Moreover, as profits are still down, there are concerns about any pay rises that may occur in spite of falling revenues.

On the whole, salary rises were low for the creative side of the industry. If they increased, it was by the rate of inflation only – by a couple of per cent – as might be expected. Average salaries for junior designers in most disciplines have undergone a slight increase, while many senior and creative directors have seen no change, due to agreed cuts in pay or a hold on increases.

There is more movement in managerial jobs; further proof that in difficult times, roles that like new business director and production manager are fundamental and well paid.

Recruitment agencies are quite optimistic in their forecast of salary increase. Most agencies predicted around 5 per cent – way beyond the current rate of inflation.

It will be interesting to see whether this is just an optimist view or a forecast for a long-awaited change in the economy.

Creatives’ salaries

In London, salaries for the creative industry have suffered from the difficult year.

In particular, wage rises look pretty uneventful for those at their earliest stages of a career. According to the recruitment agencies, junior designers in London averaged a salary increase of 0.5 per cent, while middleweight designers barely passed the 0.1 per cent mark.

Outside London, matters look rosier, with junior designers averaging a salary increase of 13 per cent and middleweight creatives 8 per cent. This is similar to the situation last year, where the regional outlook showed better salary increases. But it’s with the more senior positions that designers in both London and the rest of the country feel the pinch.

London-based senior designers’ salaries were down 1 per cent compared to a more drastic 5 per cent drop for their regional peers. Creative directors’ salaries in London experienced an insignificant increase, while outside London, they fell by 13 per cent. It gets worse with a position like artworker – in London, the salary fell by 7 per cent, while outside London by 3 per cent.

Management salaries

Among non-creative roles, there are some substantial differences between London and outside the capital, making it difficult to indicate one main trend. While quite predictably, the role of a new business director in London has taken prominence with an average salary increase of 7 per cent, the same role seems to have taken a dive outside London, with a decrease of 2 per cent. This goes against most recruiters’ claim of shortage of candidates for that role. Similarly, production manager’s salaries rose by a substantial 7 per cent in the capital, while outside it fell by 1.5 per cent. In London, account executives’ salaries decreased by 1 per cent, while their regional peers managed to negotiate a 3 per cent increase.

Comparisons between recruitment agencies and design consultancies and across design disciplines

Although, for a second year, we are not publishing the figures submitted by design consultancies because there weren’t enough responses to gain a true representation of national pay scales, we can draw some interesting comparisons with rates provided by recruitment agencies. The most significant aspect is that rates cited by the consultancies are higher than agencies. Yet the disparity is not enormous.

For example, a London-based print graphics creative director will earn, according to agencies, about £53 577, while consultancies say it’s more likely to be £58 257. Some disciplines show an exception on this rule. London creative directors in digital media earn about £51 955, say agencies, but design consultancies put that fee down to £42 500.

According to agencies, the average salary of a managing director in London is about £68 846 against £55 000 for one outside London. However, consultancies say the average salary for a London-based managing director is more likely to be around £82 025 against £67 563 for one outside the city, way beyond what is printed in these tables.

Extra benefits

In our survey we also address the benefits that agencies advise consultancies to offer to attract or retain staff. Standard perks include pensions, healthcare and life insurance. Bonuses, share options, training, overtime pay, car/travel allowance, relocation allowance and sabbaticals are also things to consider. On the leisure side of things season ticket loans, extended holidays, duvet days and private gym membership were also mentioned.

Other indicators

Willott Kingston Smith’s annual financial report on its leading design and branding consultancies has just been published (Design Business, DW 16 October).

The report is based on 30 top London and non-London design consultancies, ranked by gross income from Design Week’s Top 100 survey, which was published as a supplement in June, and WKS’s knowledge of the sector.

Its report states that the average salary per head rose by 21.6 per cent from £38 732 to £47 106. This will have been skewed by design consultancies making more junior staff redundant, as well as reflecting pay rises to the remaining staff. According to WKS, this is worrying, as increasing pay in the face of declining revenue doesn’t make financial sense.

What we did

In an attempt to get a fair perspective on the state of salaries in the business, we sent out a questionnaire to design consultancies on past Top 100 and Creative Survey databases and to recruitment agencies in London and elsewhere in the country.

The level of response from UK design consultancies was once again very poor, so we based our tables exclusively on the findings from recruitment agencies that are dealing with staff on a day-to-day basis, across different disciplines and positions.

We used findings from designers as a check and included them in the analysis.

Freelance rates

Although freelance rates vary enormously according to jobs, skills, seniority, projects and clients, we have attempted to map out average hourly and day rates. The data has been supplied both by recruitment agencies and design consultancies. However, some agencies would not complete this section, as there are too many variables affecting freelance rates.

Hourly rate

Average – £25

Lowest – £10

Highest – £40

Day rate

Average – £200

Lowest – £100

Highest – £500

London – Designers

Junior £s Middleweight £s Senior £s Creative director £s Artworker £s
Print graphics 17 833 23 708 32 292 53 577 25 364
Packaging and branding 18 000 23 808 32 231 52 250 25 042
Exhibition 17 750 23 500 30 688 45 188 23 571
Furniture
Corporate identity 18 091 23 909 32 773 54 708 25 600
Interiors/ architecture 18 125 23 625 32 000 51 625 25 375
Product design 18 750 24 125 29 750 47 500 22 000
Digital media 17 700 23 950 31 900 51 955 24 813
London average 17 733 23 733 32 300 52 906 24 654

• indicates not enough responses to give an accurate result

Outside London (Inc. Scotland) – Designers

Junior £s Middleweight £s Senior £s Creative director £s Artworker £s
Print graphics 15 667 22 167 28 333 40 000 21 000
Packaging and branding 16 750 22 875 29 125 38 750 21 125
Exhibition 16 800 22 800 29 400 39 000 21 125
Furniture 17 500 23 750 30 250 42 500
Corporate identity 16 000 22 500 29 000 40 000 20 000
Interiors/ architecture 17 500 23 750 30 250 42 500
Product design 18 333 24 167 30 667 40 000 20 750
Digital media 16 500 23 250 28 500 42 500 21 500
Regional average 17 500 23 500 29 750 40 000 21 500

• indicates not enough responses to give an accurate result

London – Management

Managing director £s New business director £s Project manager £s Account executive £s Account handler £s Production manager #s Studio manager #s
Print graphics 71 500 55 900 53 577 23 500 29 208 34 385 34 038
Packaging and branding 69 545 54 455 31 107 23 821 28 885 33 857 33 750
Exhibition 62 500 50 300 31 625 25 438 28 357 33 375 33 063
Furniture
Corporate identity 72 778 57 667 31 708 23 792 29 591 35 167 34 792
Interiors/ architecture 65 000 58 750 31 875 24 875 29 167 32 500 31 500
Product design 64 167 55 000 32 625 27 625 29 667 34 250 34 500
Digital media 71 875 53 313 31 636 23 591 28 800 34 545 34 273
London average 68 846 52 500 30 875 23 406 28 900 33 906 33 531

• indicates not enough responses to give an accurate result

Outside London (Inc. Scotland) – Management

Managing director £s New business director £s Project manager £s Account executive £s Account handler £s Production manager £s Studio manager £s
Print graphics 53 333 42 833 28 667 19 000 24 667 27 833 27 000
Packaging and branding 52 500 42 125 29 000 21 250 24 750 27 625 27 750
Exhibition 54 000 42 125 29 700 21 250 24 750 27 625 27 750
Furniture 55 000 33 750
Corporate identity 50 000 44 250 30 500 18 500 24 500 29 250 28 000
Interiors/ architecture 55 000 33 750
Product design 53 333 45 000 32 500 23 000 23 000 28 500 28 500
Digital media 55 000 45 000 30 000 19 000 23 000 27 500 26 000
Regional average 55 000 43 333 30 625 22 000 23 667 27 333 27 333

• indicates not enough responses to give an accurate result

Percentage Change in Average Salaries 2002-03

LONDON
Junior designer 0.5
Middleweight designer insignificant increase
Senior designer -1
Creative director insignificant increase
Artworker -7
Managing director 0.5
New business director 7
Project manager -1
Account executive -1
Account handler 2
Production manager 7
Studio manager 4

Based on data from recruitment agencies

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