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Old August 20th, 2007, 09:13 AM   #1
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Average Salary

What is the average salary for someone who knows After Effects, Encore, Vegas, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, Audition, Videography, motion picture Cinematography, some audio engineering, still photography, HTML and CSS?
For someone without a college degree and no prior professional experience, but a lot of personal experience on indie film shoots including a feature film under my belt 9produced and directed) and a couple handfuls of short films, a personal website portfolio of over a dozen sites created and a decent still photography portfolio?

I'm know it's a pretty open question, I'm just getting the impression I get paid a lot less at my current job then I should. Especially considering I run their entire studio and I just found out that their fresh out of school flash artists who are on average 5 years younger then me make about 5 grand more then me a year.

What should my average salary be realistically?
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Old August 20th, 2007, 10:36 AM   #2
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since you know what the younger artists are making, why not just raise that issue with your boss? it would be easier to ask to be paid on par with (or more than...) the other employees, instead of asking the forum members here for a specific number, which differ widely from region to region.

it seems as if flash artists are able to command top dollar these days. there's a high demand and not that many good flash artists, so it may be a supply and demand issue in play as well, and not just an experience versus youth thing at all. but your managerial capacities should count for something, and i would use that as the leverage point.
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Old August 20th, 2007, 10:50 AM   #3
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I know what you are saying. I'm just looking for averages based on region or not. I mean I'm willing to move if the pay is right :) I've got a wife and two kids to think about. I know it's going to vary but if someone were to ask, "hey what can I expect to get paid in this industry" what would you tell them?

I mean I don't want to go and be completely out of line. I just got a raise and it's still no where near what my co-workers started at. I've also been here longer. I think they know they are paying me less and got me for a steal, but I'm too naive to know any better as this is my first professional job doing this. If I ask for more or go and look for another job and they say "what are you looking to make?" what do I tell them? I want to be fair to both myself and others working in the same industry. Obviously I don't want to undercut other people and help to bring the average down, that would be bad. So what is the going rate?
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Old August 20th, 2007, 11:46 AM   #4
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from my observations ... when you get hired to do many jobs ( AE, edit, photography, audio, manage a stage etc) the pay tends to be lower then if you are just doing After Effects work ...

from your list i only see AE & Photoshop as something i know as employable in many area's ....

$$ also depend on the area you are located .... i don't know Detroit ...
doing what you do now ( in general ) - if you were in Portland , OR maybe $10-15 hr ... SF, CA maybe $15-20hr .. LA,CA free to $40 hr ....

your REEL plays a HUGE roll in what somebody will offer to pay ...

i know web designers in SF area that make 40-80hr ....

many times you have to leave your current employment to get the $$ you want ...
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Old August 20th, 2007, 12:10 PM   #5
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Mike, I sincerely don't mean to be sarcastic,

so don't read this as such, but if you know what the younger folks at your shop are getting, and you know you are/can be more of an asset to your employer, then it seems to me that the salaries for the right-out-of-school folks are more in the ballpark than any guestimate someone here might offer. (At least in your market). As for moving, remember that salaries are often 1) a reflection of the supply and demand of skills, and 2) often offered in relation to the cost of living in a given area. (You might be able to move and get more money somewhere else, but how much will your cost of living go up)?

The rule of thumb I've always heard is that the "edge" that school might provide dissipates after 5 years on the job. In my experience, the reality of that never seems to live up to the prophecy. The name of the school that someone graduates from seems to always be a part of their identity, particularly to their employer. Unfortunately, that too often results from people's, and employer's, sometimes erroneous perception of the school. The grad could have been a slouch at school, but it's like the joke about the med school graduate at the bottom of their class: "none of my patients will ever call me by my rank, but they'll all call me doctor."

I'd encourage you to broach the subject of a raise or other salary adjustment with your boss. What have you got to lose? (They're not about to lower your pay just for asking, are they)?

I know that's not an easy thing to do, and this may not have been much help, but good luck with whatever you choose to do.
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Old August 20th, 2007, 01:04 PM   #6
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Try Monster.com's salary comparison tool.

For a "tape editor" in Detroit, MI:

The median expected salary for a typical Tape Editor in Detroit, MI, is $33,936. This basic market pricing report was prepared using our Certified Compensation Professionals' analysis of survey data collected from thousands of HR departments at employers of all sizes, industries and geographies.

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Old August 20th, 2007, 06:18 PM   #7
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In my opinion the question you should be asking is: what is that value of your work to the company? How much do they bill out on a typical project? How much does completion of project depend on your work?

If you have been "running the studio" your value is more than a function of your software skills. You also have unique management skills developed on the job that would not be easy for your employer to replace. If you are also supervising the creative work of others you are doing something akin to art direction or executive producing -- jobs that don't pay badly in major markets.

Due to the condition of the auto industry things are a bit tougher in Detroit than in other places, and so that might be a factor.
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Old August 21st, 2007, 12:45 AM   #8
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You stated what you know, but really didn't say what you actually did, or what your job title and responsibilities were.
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Old August 21st, 2007, 07:40 AM   #9
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Good point Matt I didn't.
Basically I do all the video shoots, either in our studio or on location. This involves setting up the camera, lights, audio recording gear as I record separate audio in studio, as well as direct the talent, setup the teleprompter, apply any makeup needed for the talent. For location shoots this also includes hauling all the equipment around, setup ad tear down and boom operation. Pretty much a one man video crew.

I also do 95% of all location and studio photography for the company using my own equipment.

I do all the audio records and engineering in our studio from recording and directing the talent to micing and leveling and everything associated with that. Including making sure the talent has warm or cold water, feels comfortable, ect.

In the post production realm I do all the video capturing and editing including after effects work, post production audio mastering, DVD authoring and compression for web. I also build out website comps using HTML and CSS and sometimes a little flash work when needed. Definitely flash work when it comes to video. I'm the only one in the building that knows After effects and DVD authoring. Some of our clients for DVD's have included Mazda and Kia and a few larger companies.

I work with agencies like BBDO and ES3 all the time as well as other local production houses who send me content and vice versa.

I'm not really managing anyone. As it is pretty much a one man studio. But we did just recently hire an audio tech as my background is more video. So I've kind of gotten a little more managerial though I don't like to think of it like that.

I am also designing and will be setting the up the companies new studio at their new location.

As for my value to the company. I generally like to think it's pretty high and they've said similar before. Most of our large corporate work involves video and audio and sometimes original photography. Though most of it is destined for the web I usually have my hand in every large project. We've been getting more and more projects that are just video based like DVD projects that involve me doing a lot of after effects animating and DVD authoring.
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Old August 28th, 2007, 04:38 PM   #10
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No matter how much you do for your job, you'll never get paid as much as you should. Actually the more you do, the less you'll make. I guess it's sort of like that old saying "jack of all trades, master of none". It makes better sense to dedicate yourself to one aspect of the business and become an expert at it.

Reading your initial post, I can see we have a great deal in common.

Here's a summary of what I do for the company I work for:
shoot and edit video (DV/DVCPROHD), direct actors, record and post audio, handle all lighting, jib/dolly/steadicam assembly and operation, build sets, titling, compositing, scheduling, script writing and revising, voice overs, purchasing for my department, networking, multi-format media conversion, ad insertion equipment maintenance and installation, web design and DVD authoring/duplication.

I can tell you without hesitation that if I were to ask for a raise today, I would be told the company couldn't afford it. If I threatened to quit, I'd be offered little more than I'm making now to stay, but not nearly as much as my boss, who is nothing more than the head of sales for the advertising department. Even though no one else knows how to run most of this stuff, let alone do as much as I do to help keep this department running, I know I'll never make as much as I feel I should be making.

If you're at that point with your job, you may want to consider going out on your own. Sure, it's risky and there are no guarantees, but it could be just the thing you need to make yourself happy. If there is one thing I know for sure it's that people who are concerned with how much they make don't like what they are presently doing.

Sorry for the long-winded post.
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Old August 30th, 2007, 08:29 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by John C. Plunkett View Post
I can tell you without hesitation that if I were to ask for a raise today, I would be told the company couldn't afford it...Even though no one else knows how to run most of this stuff, let alone do as much as I do to help keep this department running, I know I'll never make as much as I feel I should be making.
John may be right, but I've experienced the opposite with the company I do most of my work for here in Montreal. After a few years of improving/building up their video department, I was able to go to them and make them see that I was a good asset, and should be paid right. They agreed and my rates have gone way up.

If you demonstrate your value, you should be able to ask to be fairly compensated. If not, see ya later. You sound like you have many valuable skills. Get out there and sell them.

Also, you've got your self roped into a position where you do everything, and thus are seen as a bit of a gopher. Not good... You'd be better off going on your own if you are going to do everything anyway.
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Old August 31st, 2007, 12:27 AM   #12
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What should my average salary be realistically?[/QUOTE]


If you're looking at it that way, I'm afraid it will NEVER be what you want.
Don't ask us. Ask YOURSELF. What do you want? That's where it all starts. Knowing what you WANT. And how badly you want it.

Write down a number. A number that would make you INSANELY happy. Then figure out how you can direct enough focus, effort and smarts on achieving it? Righ now, you define yourself as an employee. So you're getting paid like one. At whatever THEIR employee offered rate is. You have little to say about it.

If you want that to change, you've got to change your whole attitude.

It sounds like you have some great skills, but you haven't found a way to leverage any of them into a big jump up in income. Why not?

I know with a wife and kids, it's not easy to take chances. But the people who move from where you are to becoming the people who make great money DO take chances. Hopefully well thought out, smart ones.

It sounds to me like you're already hanging out with a lot of people in the industry who are hiring you to do a lot of stuff. I'd get to know some of the more successful ones and STUDY what they do. How do they act. How do they dress. How do they create the impression that they're someone to whom it's safe to hand a big job - and a big check?

Ad as to asking for raises, no one will EVER give you one unless they believe that NOT giving you one would LOSE them much more than the value of that raise.

Jobs and salaries are functions of IMPRESSIONS. Not facts or reality. Most companies pay more for people who create the impression that they can drive financial results.

So what are you doing to create that impression?

Just some thoughts.

Good luck.
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Old August 31st, 2007, 08:51 AM   #13
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Thanks guys for all your wonderful suggestions and tips.
I'd love to be making 38K a year, that would be my dream at this point. Unfortunately I'm making no where near that. Of course this is my first professional job doing this kind of stuff. Before this I was just doing indie film on my own and working as an apprentice electrician (making 38k a year in my first year BTW).
So I've taken over a 10k pay decrease just to be doing what I like to do versus what I don't like to do. I'm 28 so I still have a lot of life ahead of me. As well as a lot to learn, but I work heard, take charge and even if I don't have a college degree I have a lot of skills I've taught myself and learned in the field doing indie film as well as in the last year I've worked here doing it professionally.
I just can't afford to be. The rent on my house alone is one of my two paychecks each month.
But at the same time I guess I'm glad to just be working here in Michigan.
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Old August 31st, 2007, 09:00 AM   #14
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Don't sell yourself short! Put your resume together and get out there. You've shown that you are practically indispensable in your present job through your talent and skill.

Go show another company that and tell them how you can do the same for a measly $50K.

When they start calling your present employer asking for references, perhaps he'll wake the hell up.

Cheers,
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