By Lucy Marino, executive director of the marketing and creative practice at global talent solutions firm Robert Half, which connects employers with skilled marketing, creative, digital, advertising and public relations professionals to meet their specialized recruiting needs. Marino manages strategy and operations for the company’s marketing and creative talent solutions teams across U.S. locations.
As a creative professional, you know that staying ahead is about more than having a standout portfolio. Understanding the job market, salary expectations and employment trends are equally important as we head into 2024.
Luckily, research from the latest Robert Half Salary Guide can help give you an advantage, whether you’re searching for a new job or looking to advance with your current employer. Here are highlights from the guide that I recommend all creative professionals know:
Popular Roles and Their Salaries
First, let’s talk numbers. Salaries are still on the rise, even if increases are likely to be more measured than in recent years. No matter the job title you have or want, knowing the national midpoint salary for it gives you a strong starting point in negotiations. Here are a few popular creative jobs and their midpoint salaries:
- Art director: $97,750
- Graphic designer: $66,000
- Production artist: $61,000
- UX designer: $113,250
- Web designer: $77,750
- Packaging designer: $65,500
For a more tailored look at salaries based on your experience and skills or location, take advantage of the information and interactive calculator in the Salary Guide.
Skills That Will Make You Stand Out
If you’re on the job hunt, the odds are in your favor. A notable 63% of creative managers surveyed by Robert Half say they’re actively hiring for new roles, while another 35% aim to fill vacant positions. So lots of job openings are out there, but 94% of managers admit they’re struggling to find skilled talent — particularly in specialized fields like marketing and UX design.
Even in this candidate-friendly market, competition is stiff for the most coveted creative positions. So what skills are so hot right now that creative and marketing managers are willing to bump up salaries to get these professionals on board?
- Marketing automation (cited by 36% of marketing and creative managers)
- Digital marketing strategy (33%)
- Marketing research and analytics (33%)
- Creative development and art direction (25%)
- Social media (24%)
- Graphic design (24%)
Digital and tech-adjacent skills are clearly in the spotlight. If you’ve been hesitating to master the latest design software or UX tools, consider this your wake-up call. But don’t overlook soft skills. As AI and automation shake up creative industries, qualities like emotional intelligence and empathy are gaining importance. That’s because while machines can crunch numbers and analyze data, they can’t read a room, take a risk they weren’t programmed to take or form human connections. In the creative world, understanding what makes people tick often drives success.
The Appeal of Remote and Hybrid Work
Given that 65% of professionals would want a salary bump (a 17% increase on average) to commit to working in the office full time, it’s evident that flexible work options are quickly shifting from a nice-to-have to a necessity. Some creative firms have learned this the hard way, with 59% of managers reporting losing strong candidates because remote or hybrid work weren’t on the table.
If you’re open to working in the office full time, use that willingness as leverage for a higher salary or additional perks. Prefer a hybrid or remote setup? Make your case by showing how you’ve been productive in such environments before. No matter your work-style preferences, emphasize your adaptability and quick learning skills to up your marketability in today’s fast-changing world.
The Rise of the Contract Professional
Creative employers increasingly turn to contract or interim talent to plug skill gaps and keep projects fully staffed. It’s a win-win: Companies can move forward on critical initiatives without adding to their permanent payroll, and professionals gain the opportunity to work on a diverse range of projects in multiple industries.
Where are managers putting contract talent to work? Here’s what they told Robert Half:
- Digital marketing (48% of managers)
- Traditional marketing (44%)
- Advertising (39%)
- Design and production (38%)
- Content development (31%)
- UX/UI design (31%)
Contract work could be your golden ticket if you’re struggling to find a full-time role or are eager to diversify your experience. Work with a talent solutions firm to access the best contract opportunities. They often have the inside scoop on what companies are looking for and can match you with assignments that suit your skills and career goals.
Benefits and Perks
It’s not just about the paycheck. More than a third (35%) of creative and marketing job seekers are looking for better benefits and perks, with 41% counting them as a top-three consideration when choosing a new job.
Here’s the catch: Some companies are trimming back on these extras to cut costs.
If you plan to negotiate perks and benefits in an offer, present a well-thought-out plan that not only meets your needs but also shows value to your employer. For instance, you could argue how flexible working hours make you more productive or how paid time off for volunteering can broaden your horizons and elevate your overall perspective — making you an even greater asset to the company.
* * *
Going into 2024, creative professionals have a wealth of options. Whether you’re showcasing your one-of-a-kind skills, hunting for a more flexible work setup or considering contract roles, there’s plenty of room to carve out the career path that’s right for you. But no matter what route you choose, knowledge is power. Use trusted resources like the Robert Half Salary Guide to make smart, career-boosting choices in the year ahead.