The census – the most in-depth of its kind in the UK – surveyed 4,084 people across the marketing, digital, design and advertising industries.

Despite C-suite and board-level roles enjoying substantial growth over the past year, the survey also revealed that graduate and executive roles have suffered a decline. There has been a 21.7% fall in salary for senior executives, as well as a 7.5% drop in graduate marketing salaries.

A recruitment crisis?

The graduate salary drop is particularly concerning given recent research has found marketing is unlikely to be viewed as a career option among UK students. Marketing Week found that 51% of students aged 18 to 24 say marketing was ‘never’ or ‘hardly ever’ mentioned at their school, with just 1% reporting that marketing was talked about ‘a lot’ during their school days.

The decline in graduate pay is also shown in relief against the fact that board level salaries have grown (12.5% year on year), making the gap between top and bottom significantly wider, with an overall difference of £95,825.

This means that opportunities are only arising for experienced marketers, creating a barrier for young people studying marketing or those with just a few years of experience under their belt.

Average basic salary by job level

Job level of seniority Average basic salary 2018/2019 Average basic salary 2017/2018 YoY change
Owner / Partner £72,727 £63,856 13.9%
Board Director £117,700 £104,492 12.6%
Other Director / VP £94,745 £92,351 2.6%
Senior Manager / Department Manager £56,585 £58,357 -3.0%
Manager / Team Manager £42,503 £42,647 -0.3%
Junior Manager £35,276 £35,261 0.0%
Senior Executive £31,767 £40,565 -21.7%
Executive £26,539 £27,809 -4.6%
Assistant £23,594 £21,672 8.9%
Graduate £21,875 £23,657 -7.5%

The gender pay gap persists

Another divide within the marketing industry is the gender pay gap, which suggests that women are earning less than men across every sector and at every level of seniority.

While the gender pay gap stands at 17.9% overall in the UK (8.6% among full-time employees), the gap within marketing is almost double the national average (31%).

This is not a like-for-like comparison, as the Office for National Statistics national average is calculated differently. However, the fact that male marketers have seen an average pay rise of around 1.6% over the past year, while women have only seen an increase of 0.1%, also highlights the shortfall that women face.

Other findings show that in higher ranks, women are again receiving lower salaries than men for the equivalent role. At owner or partner level, a rather stark pay gap of 39% exists. Males at board director level are being paid on average £40,480 more than females.

Marketing qualifications matter less

Another significant finding from this year’s Career and Salary Survey is the percentage of people working within the industry that do not have a marketing degree or professional equivalent. Out of the 4,084 people surveyed, 54% said they do not have a marketing qualification.

Just 26% say they have a marketing undergraduate degree as their highest qualification, and 16% have a marketing master’s degree, diploma or doctorate.

Whether or not marketing qualifications are relevant (and indeed needed) in today’s landscape remains a topic for debate. The argument against this is the question of whether degree programmes can keep pace with the rate of change within marketing. This, combined with the fact that hands-on experience and practical know-how is highly valued, means companies are less fixated on recruiting marketing degree graduates.

Perhaps as a consequence of this, we are now seeing greater demand for skills-based training, as well as training on-the-job. Twenty three percent of the survey’s respondents said they have completed a marketing qualification via a training house such as Econsultancy or the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), despite not studying the subject at a degree level.

For more, subscribers can download the Career and Salary Survey Report 2019