How much do in-house, self-employed, and agency search marketers make

Determining how much you should be compensated can be challenging, awkward, and sometimes even intimidating, as it requires balancing personal expectations with industry standards and organizational constraints. However, a recent PPC salary survey might offer some insights, enabling you to decide whether to negotiate a pay raise or explore new opportunities.

Duane Brown, CEO & Head of Strategy at Take Some Risk, has compiled and published his yearly examination of PPC salaries. The comprehensive report, featuring 112 slides, is based on data from 902 participants and conveniently breaks down gross salaries by country and region.

While the survey is packed with information, we’ll concentrate on a few key aspects: agency, freelancer, and in-house salaries for male and female PPC specialists in the U.S. For a more in-depth analysis, view the full PDF report here.

Brown acknowledges in the report that some data may be skewed due to respondents with only 1-3 years of PPC experience but who have been working for a decade or longer.

Agency PPC salaries. The median salary ranged from $50,182 (less than one year of experience) to $199,000 (15+ years of experience).

These figures are up significantly from the 2022 report that showed $47,500 (less than one year of experience) to $139,000 (15+ years of experience)

This was based on 219 responses from people who work for an agency. Here’s the chart:

In-house PPC salaries. The median salary ranged from $62,150 (one to two years of experience) to $124,000 (15+ years of experience). This was based on 125 responses from people who work for a client or brand.

There weren’t enough participants working in-house with under 1 year of experience to survey.

Self-employed. The median salary for self-employed people is $155,833 for those with 3-5 years of experience. The highest compensation for this category occurred in those with 10-15 years of experience, coming in at $322,500.

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Company size. The survey also looked at salaries by company size. If you’re looking to get a six-figure salary, your best chances will be working at a company with 1-10 employees.

This is a stark contrast to the 2022 report, where the highest median salaries reported were at companies of 200+ employees. 

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Male vs. female. In a shocking twist, females with 9 years of experience or less were paid more than their male counterparts. However, for those who have 10 years or more of experience, males earn more on average.

The most significant disparity comes in at the 10-15 year range, where females earn $130,000 and makes $160,000.

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Why we care. Understanding your worth and appreciating the work you do is crucial. Whether you’re in-house, a freelancer, or at an agency, multiple factors affect your salary, including your location, experience, gender, and negotiation skills. Keeping informed about PPC salary trends and industry benchmarks can empower you during negotiations for your next role or salary increase. Recognizing your value will not only help you secure fair compensation but also contribute to overall career satisfaction and success.

About the data. Brown created the survey in Google Forms and posted the link in Reddit sometime around the end of January/beginning of February, and closed for responses on February 28.

A few caveats. Brown noted the following information:

  • Some people have 1-3 years experience in paid but having been working for 8-10 years, thus they can skew salaries higher.
  • This year we see Africa get to join Asia, India, and South America with their own slide. Asian & India got slides in 2021. South America got their own slide in 2022.
  • Top 4 countries are the same: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Netherlands. If you are considering somewhere in Europe to live, Netherlands should be a strong contender I feel
  • Remote work has increased a lot this year… a lot of people working for USA brands
  • Freelancers/self-employed results got a slide breakout in a few countries
  • Some people include their bonus in their salaries I imagine. This can make their salary higher then someone who might not have. Hence why we try to use the median salary across all reports

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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