Tech & Work

Working the Web: Is your salary fair?

Compare your compensation and benefits with that of other Internet professionals'. Take a look at the Association of Internet Professionals's salary survey.

By Kim Wimpsett

With the Net economy booming, the job market can be quite lucrative for Web builders. To cash in on all the e-moola, you should research what kind of salaries and benefits are common in the industry. But since "How much do you make?" is not the most tactful thing to ask your coworkers, the Association of Internet Professionals (AIP) has done a little research for you.

The 8,500-member organization recently released its second salary survey so that Internet professionals—including programmers, Web producers, and management—can compare compensation and benefits with peers. We've taken a peek at the executive summary of the report to see what the average salary and benefits are for Web builders.

The survey has broken down the industry by 12 categories of jobs, encompassing dozens of job titles. A total of 2,918 respondents completed the Web-based survey over a three-week period in August and September 1999, and the findings of 2,163 full-time Internet professionals are included in the report. (The findings for the remaining 765 independent contractors were released in a separate report.)

Job categories

The AIP's most recent salary survey was broken down into 12 general job categories, which were further broken down into job titles. Find your job title in the following table to then compare your salary and benefits with others.

Job CategoryJob Titles and Job Types
Media productionGraphics, audio, video
Design and layoutWeb designer, other media designer, creative director, art director
Programming and development: Web interface systemsProgrammer, lead/senior programmer, systems architect
Programming and development: back-end/legacy systemsProgrammer, lead/senior programmer, systems architect
Programming and development: software development Programmer, lead/senior programmer, systems architect
Systems administrationUnix admin (mail, Web, DNS, connectivity, and so on), mixed OS admin, NT admin (mail, Web, DNS, connectivity, and so on), security specialist
Online services managementProject manager (initial development/major upgrade), site manager (maintenance/ongoing development), producer, executive producer (manages multiple or major projects)
Content developmentWriter, editor, senior editor, editor in chief, customer experience manager, navigation/content engineer
Executive managementCxO (CEO, CIO, CTO, CKO, CFO), technical director or VP (online, interactive/e-commerce), sales/marketing director or VP, salesperson/account manager (marketing, business development, sales)
Customer service/communityOnline community manager, customer service representative
Sales/business developmentSales, business development, advertising manager/traffic coordinator, channels management
Technical recruiting 


In this industry, there's a lot of talk about skimping on salaries and opting for options. But how do you know how low is too low? The following data compares the salary levels of full-time Web builders.

Not surprisingly, executive managers reported the highest compensation, with an average of $85,506. And those Builder Buzz members who were concerned last year when they didn't see any six-figure salaries can rest easier in 2000. Twenty-five percent of the executive managers surveyed earn more than $112,501.

Unfortunately, not all Web builders are raking in the big bucks. Coming in with the lowest average salaries were customer service and community representatives, with an average of $36,422. (This compensation data includes base salary and any bonuses.)

When you compare your salary with the report's finding, you should use the data merely as a guideline. Of course, compensation packages will vary by organizations, depending on location, size, and other factors. A deviation between your salary and anything listed is "not necessarily good or bad; it is merely an indication that additional scrutiny may be warranted," according to the report. With that in mind, let's see how your Web salary rates.

Job CategoryNumber PolledAverageMedian25% Earn More Than75% Earn More Than
Executive management394$85,506$76,501$112,501$50,751
Programming and development: back-end/legacy systems80$66,081$61,251$74,501$49,026
Programming and development: software development169$64,024$64,501$77,501$47,501
Programming and development: Web interface systems220$63,627$62,501$74,751$48,376
Online services management271$59,781$57,501$73,126$42,701
Sales and business development101$57,873$47,501$72,501$32,501
Content development87$52,260$52,501$62,501$41,501
Systems administration229$51,887$50,501$63,501$37,501
Design and layout276$45,856$42,501$55,751$32,501
Media production22$42,455$37,501$47,501$32,501
Customer service/community59$36,422$33,001$50,601$15,000
Technical recruiting27$43,786$37,501$57,501$19,000


Almost every industry site, magazine, and job listing mentions stock options these days. But is all of that hype? According to the AIP report, less than one-third of the Web builders polled receive options as part of their compensation package. The majority does receive medical and dental benefits, and many are provided with continuing education and 401(k) plans.

Job Category Number Polled Medical Dental Profit Sharing or Bonus Tax-Sheltered Annuity or Deferred Compensation Continuing Education Stock Options
Media production1688%79%57%78%71%14%
Design and layout25289%76%40%62%66%57%
Programming and development: Web interface systems20496%86%58%71%73%38%
Programming and development: back-end/legacy systems7892%90%67%82%83%24%
Programming and development: software development16391%82%63%66%76%38%
Systems administration21491%79%50%70%72%23%
Online services management25792%83%56%64%76%29%
Content development7688%75%52%66%71%29%
Executive management36690%77%64%60%72%45%
Customer service/community5789%75%58%56%58%34%
Sales and business development9390%80%66%64%67%44%
Technical recruiting24100%91%39%52%68%42%

Years of experience

Who has more than 20 years of experience in the Web world? Apparently, 14 percent of the Web builders who deal with graphics, audio, or video do, based on claims of the respondents to this survey. See how your experience compares to the respondents with this data:

Job Category Number Polled Less Than 6 Months 6 Months to 2 Years 2 to 5 Years 6 to 9 Years 10 to 14 Years 15 to 19 Years 20 Years or More
Media production2110%38%19%19%14%
Design and layout2581%21%52%16%6%2%2%
Programming and development: Web interface systems2132%17%38%26%6%7%5%
Programming and development: back-end/legacy systems761%9%22%25%17%13%12%
Programming and development: software development1632%13%37%23%11%7%6%
Systems administration2151%12%36%29%11%5%6%
Online services management2584%21%44%16%9%4%2%
Content development822%23%40%17%5%6%6%
Executive management3713%16%33%22%11%5%9%
Customer service/community5612%18%20%16%16%12%5%
Sales and business development956%25%38%12%6%8%4%
Technical recruiting2512%44%40%4%
Note: Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole percentage point.

Education level

It's pretty well known that not all Web builders have computer science degrees. But some don't have college degrees at all.

Job Category Number Polled Bachelor's Degree Graduate Study MBA Master's Degree Doctorate Other None
Media production2343%13%4%39%
Design and layout27943%12%1%11%1%1%30%
Programming and development: Web interface systems22137%11%5%21%3%1%23%
Programming and development: back-end/legacy systems8038%18%2%14%2%27%
Programming and development: software development17240%9%4%24%2%1%21%
Systems administration23133%7%1%13%2%2%42%
Online services management27139%16%6%15%3%1%20%
Content development8839%19%6%18%3%1%15%
Executive management402 34%15%12%12%5%1%21%
Customer service/community5914%3%2%5%2%8%66%
Sales and business development10242%11%7%13%3%2%24%
Technical recruiting2843%4%7%4%43%
Note: Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole percentage point.

Geographic region

This is the breakdown of regions where the survey respondents are based, with definitions of those regions below.

Job Category Number Polled Northeast South Atlantic & Southeast East North Central West North Central West South Central West
Media production1724%18%24%18%6%12%
Design and layout21014%30%19%7%8%22%
Programming and development: Web interface systems15820%27%15%4%9%25%
Programming and development: back-end/legacy systems5212%27%23%12%2%25%
Programming and development: software development11924%26%19%5%5%21%
Systems administration16315%25%20%11%4%24%
Online services management18722%19%21%7%6%25%
Content development5920%17%25%5%14%19%
Executive management276 23%20%19%6%8%24%
Customer service/community4615%20%7%2%26%30%
Sales and business development6617%23%21%3%9%27%
Technical recruiting2626%16%16%26%0%16%
Note: Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole percentage point.

This is how the regions are defined by the survey.

Region U.S. States
NortheastMaine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island
South Atlantic/SoutheastTennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Delaware, District of Columbia, Louisiana
East North CentralMichigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri
West North CentralMontana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin
West South Central Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Kansas
WestWashington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii

Kim Wimpsett is a senior editor for CNET

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