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Survey: Search Can Offer Jobs, Decent Salaries

Now Could Be a Good Time to Enter an Economic Sector That Remains Robust

By Published on .

Duane Forrester
Duane Forrester
Advertisers' shift to online marketing -- and paid-search marketing specifically -- has generated considerable growth in the number of search-marketing positions open at agencies globally for talented individuals able to handle the workload.

This is one economic sector that remains robust. Data from the first Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization Agency Salary Survey suggest that even those landing jobs for the first time can secure reasonable starting pay.

As with almost everything, more experience brings more money. If you're in the sales field or working for a traditional marketing agency and want to make the switch, there's an excellent chance you can use your years of experience to significantly increase opening offers. Learning the "systems" is something everyone needs to do, but once mastered, those skills become secondary to being able to manage clients effectively.

Here are some survey highlights:


  • Roughly 5.5% of survey respondents have nine or more years of experience in the search marketing industry.

  • Just under 40% of those respondents make between $90,000 and $140,000 annually.

  • 36.7% manage both pay-per-click advertising and organic search efforts, while another 33.3% manage the people who manage both search efforts.


  • 30.5% of survey respondents have between two and three years of experience in the search-marketing industry.

  • 26.6% of respondents in this category make between $40,001 and $50,000 per year, while 33.6% make between $50,001 and $80,000.

  • Just over 42% of these respondents work solely with pay-per-click advertising efforts.


  • 16.5% of survey respondents have up to one year of experience in the search-marketing industry.

  • Just over 37% claim annual salaries between $30,001 and $40,000, and 23% fall in the bracket just above that range -- $40,001 to $50,000 per year.

  • More than 10% of respondents in this category came to their current employer from interactive-marketing agencies and fewer than 10% came from traditional-advertising agencies.

  • Just under 47% of respondents who are new to the search-marketing industry manage up to five clients, while more than 20% manage between six and 10.
If you are new to the workforce and wondering if online marketing is worth pursuing, take a look at the data. Almost 40% of folks who've just started in this space say they earn between $30,000 and $40,000 annually. Compare that to other traditional jobs you might be considering. Add in any client-facing experience you may have, and you could well see higher offers.

Duane Forrester is a member of SEMPO's board of directors and senior program manager, search engine optimization, at Microsoft.
The survey also gives us a glimpse into future paths for those in the field of agency search-engine marketing. When asked where they would like to work after their current agency position, more than 13% of agency search-engine marketers said they would like to work at an interactive-marketing agency, while more than 11% said the same about a search agency. Of the 11% who chose the "other" option, roughly 30% said they would like to own their own search agency, open their own business or be self-employed, implying an entrepreneurial quality in people who work for interactive search-related agencies.

If you've wanted to run your own business, choosing a paid search-marketing career at an agency might make sense as a start. If you're unsure, it's still a good path to follow, as job demand is there and compensation is reasonable.
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