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Creative Salary Review 2003

By The Drum | Administrator

January 22, 2003 | 6 min read

The start of a new year. Over-indulgence takes its toll and, as we squeeze back in behind our desks, belts are loosened a notch – or in some cases two. But while belts are stretched, purse strings are drawn in as we count the cost of Christmas.

Money, or the lack of it, is on everyone’s mind.

Suitable, perhaps, then that, as the credit card takes another battering in the January sales, The Drum undertakes its salary review for the year. Are you in the bargain basement or are you that cheeky wee, yet rather aspirational, Prada bag that Harvey Nicks refuses to reduce? Read on to find out.

To help us out in our quest The Drum commissioned five recruitment specialists to conduct the salary review.

The review looked at three regions: Scotland, Yorkshire and the North West. Denholm Associates provided the figures this year for The Drum’s catchment area and, despite the doom and gloom of last year, it looks like it is good news all round – unless, that is, you pay the wages.

Mac Artworkers

Surprisingly, compared to other areas of the review, the Mac Artworkers (other than the top level positions) can expect to see little excitement in the new year with very little movement in their packages.

Scotland remains the place to be for entry-level artworkers. A junior in this line of work can expect to rake in £12-£15,000 per annum if they are based north of the border, unchanged from last year. Their peers in the North of England can expect slightly less – £11-13,000 and £9-14,000 in the North West and Yorkshire respectively.

Generally, a graduate taken on by a studio will start as a trainee or a junior and progress to middleweight after around three years. This progresses to senior after five years.

A studio manager was defined as someone who has good project management skills and the necessary experience and skill with software to progress as an artworker.

Again, middleweight and senior Mac artworkers’ wages are expected to remain unchanged in 2003 with a middleweight Mac artworker taking home £15-£18K and a senior employee on £18-22K.

It is not until you reach the upper echelons of the studio manager that an increase is noticed. In Scotland the starting salary for a studio manager increases by four grand to £25,000, from £21,000 last year, drawing level with counterparts in the North West and Yorkshire.


Designers in Scotland this year will see a rise across the table. Junior designers at the lower end are expected to see a hike in pay of around 25 per cent increasing their wages from £11-15,000 a year to £14-17,000.

Middlewieght designers see a smaller rise, with starting salaries rising by £1,000 to £18,000. However, at the higher end of this category it levels out the same as last year on £25,000.

Senior and creative directors in the design field can both expect to see £3,000 added on to their starting salaries, with a senior designer rising from £22,000 to £25,000 and a director moving to £35,000 from £32,000. However, while the director’s wages continue to peak at £50K, the same as last year, senior designers at the top of their game can expect to see their salaries top out at £30,000 – a decrease of £2,000 on last year’s figures.

Account Handling

Entry level account handlers joining straight from university will be better off than their counterparts of last year. Three grand better off. Before, entry level wages started at £12,000 and peaked at £15,000; this year they start at £15,000 and go right up to £18,000.

While managers can also expect to see a rise from £16.000 to £18,000 for a starting salary, there is not such good news for senior account managers and directors. Their wages remain largely unchanged at £25-£30,000 and £30-£50,000 respectively.

Creative teams

It is in the fields, or should that be cluttered desks, of the creative teams that there is the most change when it comes to salaries this year.

However, in saying that, entry level creative teams can expect just a small increase in wage on last year moving from £11-15,000 to £12-18,000.

A middleweight creative can expect a slightly larger rise of £2,000 at the bottom end but £8,000 at the top of the category.

Senior creatives can hope for even more, rising five grand at each end of the scale from £25-£45,000 to £30-£50,000.

However, it is the creative directors that are really seeing the changes. Especially if they are at the upper end of their game. Last year a creative director could expect to receive £50-£80,000 a year. This year the top end levels out at £100,000 – an increase of £20,000.

Business Development

Poor business development managers. While everyone else’s wallets are getting fatter, business development managers are losing their pennies. Although only at the lower end.

Starting packages drop £2,000 from £22,000 to £20,000. But do not be deterred as there is light. The top end stretches out a further five grand, from £30,000 to £35,000.

Business development directors continue at the norm, however, adding £5,000 at both the top and bottom limits of their salaries, moving from £30-£45,000 to £35-£50,000.


Last year production staff at entry level lagged behind their cousins south of the border.

That balance has now been redressed as production executives gain an extra £5,000 at the lower end of their salary scale. £10-£16K was the salary of last year. This year they grow to £15-£20K. Substantial.

While production directors notice no change in their wage packets, production managers prop up the bar next to the poor business development managers with a decrease of £2,000 at the lower end of the spectrum.

Again though, there is a rise at the top end of the production manager scale.

Their wages now range from £20-£30,000, while directors should hope to get between £30,000 and £40,000.


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