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You Can Make Six Figures in SEM (If You Pay Your Dues)




SEMPO, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, has released the results of its in-house SEM salary survey, taken late last year. The good news: you can make six figures in in-house SEM. The not-as-good news: it’ll take you 5 to 7 years to get there. (Yeah, I know, I was hoping not to have to work my way up, too.)

With 656 respondents, the survey looks at not only salaries but also experience levels, job titles and online spending budgets.

Some pretty graphs Salary information, by job title and experience level:
salaries for those with 0 to 3 years experience, from SEMPO

salaries for those with 5 to 7 years experience, from SEMPO

Other key findings:

  • Some 64% of the respondents have five years or less SEM experience
  • To make in the mid-to-high $100s to the $200K range, “you are usually going to have to invest five to seven years to get there.”
  • “One third of the respondents are managing monthly budgets at the $200,000 level, at the
    opposite end of the spectrum, 26.6% are managing budgets of up to only $25,000/month.”
  • “39.4% of respondents managing monthly SEM budgets in excess of $200,000 report having 3 years of experience or less. 34.2% have between 3 and 5 years experience, and those with 5+ years of experience totaled 26.4%.”
  • 26% of those surveyed were managers, “whose compensation clustered in the $60,000 to $90,000. Despite the manager’s title, SEMPO found that almost half did not directly manage people.”

Side note: I don’t find that last point surprising, since what they’re probably managing is the actual marketing and not other people. When I worked for an SEO company, our “account managers” were the lowest people on the totem pole (though they probably thought we Web Content Specialists were ;) ), but they were the ones that did a lot of day-to-day PPC managing and performance monitoring.

So what do you think? Do these numbers align with your in-house SEM experience, or do you know pity/envy/disdain in-house SEMs?

  • http://www.gowfb.com GoWFB

    This makes me wanna stay in the industry for the rest of my life!! Just joking…..

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    It makes me want to go and work in-house for someone! ;-)

  • http://www.brianchappell.com Brian Chappell

    I feel bad for these folks who have 5+ years in SEM and stated they get paid only 40k :-/

  • http://bushidoblog.com.ar Zen

    Pretty interesting data, thanks! 6 years and 364 days to go!

  • http://www.jaankanellis.com Jaan Kanellis

    To be honest I thought these numbers were low. Makes me happy to be on the outside still.

  • http://bloggingexperiment.com Ben Cook

    I do work in house but man… maybe I need to look elsewhere lol.

  • http://www.thevanblog.com Steven Bradley

    The survey really needs the comparison to search marketers that aren’t in-house.

  • http://www.theratingblog.com Alan Johnson

    I definitely agree that people with 5-7 years of experience could be making a lot more than that, they should definitely try to see things in perspective and find out if other options may be working better for them.

    Alan Johnon

  • http://www.newhomessection.com Jayson

    Nice, I have a few years to go and a career change to make but I guess it’s always better to have a few options. In-house means boss and I’m not sure I can handle that but if they’re paying more than I can muster up in the next few years I might try and find a boss that’s tolerable.

  • http://www.theofferdirectory.com Nilesh Mishra

    The data would make more sense when compared to that of the people who aren’t inhouse as quoted by Steven..Not wise to conclude before that