Grads better off as salaries increase at media agencies

Media agency staff enjoyed inflation-busting salary increases last year thanks to Britain's booming advertising market and strong demand for younger employees with digital and social expertise.

Graduates saw average pay leap 6.3 per cent to £19,300 – the first increase "in several years", according to Alex Michaels, the managing director of Sylex, a recruitment consultancy that compiles an annual survey of pay at media agencies and owners.

Those with one to two years’ media agency experience did even better, with a 7.4 per cent pay hike to £27,500.

Michaels said agencies are willing "to pay a little more for good grads with strong numeracy skills" to handle new disciplines such as programmatic buying.

However, agency staff at a mid-manager level suffered a dip because of a lack of demand. 

The average pay for a senior account manager fell 3 per cent to £48,000. Pay at the account director and managing director levels increased by about 3 per cent, to £65,500 and £180,000 respectively. 

Peak salaries at almost every job level rose, as agencies will pay "top whack" for the right candidate in competition with data and tech companies.

Sylex saw a similar pattern at media owners, with junior sales employees accounting for the best increases but at a lower rate than their counterparts at media agencies. A graduate salary was flat at an average of £18,200, but the peak rose.

Michaels expects staff numbers and pay to keep rising at agencies in 2016.

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