Salaries climbed to an average of £45,861, taking them back just above the level they were at in 2010 before a bad year in 2011, according to figures from the MAA Salary and Benefits Survey carried out in March this year.
Last year's survey showed the average salary had dropped 6% year on year, falling from £45,163 to £42,602.
Suzanne Barnes, head of professional development at the MAA, said: "Salaries are just getting back to what they previously were following the industry-wide pay freezes many saw last year.
"Agencies are investing more in specialists, strategic planning and having senior staff on clients’ business. As a result account handling is taking a smaller percentage of the remuneration pot."
Planners' average salaries increased by 14.6% over 2011 to £63,530, which represents a 8.5% rise on the figure in 2010.
Creative salaries also recovered to levels seen two years ago with an 11% surge this year resulting in an average salary of £43,386, which compares to an average of £42,703 in 2010.
However, account handling salaries are continuing to stagnate with a £92 dip this year to £44,272, which follows a decrease of 1.8% year on year in 2011.
Ian Millner, chairman of the MAA and joint global chief executive of Iris, said: "As account handlers become more like project managers, we need to ensure that this important role doesn't lose the magic and influence that it has traditionally held."
The average salary for a senior positions at board director level reached £97,092 with a 10.6% surge on 2011.
Barnes said: "While the [salary] increase is a positive step for those working in the industry, average salaries have barely kept pace with inflation. Agencies have also seen fees decrease over the years while the cost of having good people is escalating."
The most commonly provided benefits were private health insurance, with 83.8% of agencies offering it, laptops (81.1%), mobile phones (81.1%), childcare vouchers (70.3%), season ticket loans (67.6%) and assisted bicycle purchase (64.9%).
Smaller agencies were less likely to offer benefits like enhanced maternity pay over and above statutory maternity pay.
Only 6.7% of agencies with a gross income of under £2.5m offered it compared to 85.7% of those with a £10m-plus gross income.
All but 13.5% of agencies indicated they allocate training budgets with an average per capita expenditure of £618 per head.
Some 37 agencies took part in the survey after the MAA invited all member agencies to take part in the benchmarking exercise.
Follow Matthew Chapman at @mattchapmanUK
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk