It's about time community professionals had a point of reference when it comes to fair pay and recognition for all the incredibly valuable work they do.
We made this our mission with our 2020 Community Job Survey. With data from over 100 CMs from more than 20 countries, we collected a wealth of fascinating info about the community industry. But perhaps the most intriguing — unsurprisingly — was Community Manager salaries.
There's a pretty big gap in compensation for Community Managers. Our data reflected this, and it's something I know from my own job searches for CM positions over the years. It's traditionally been a struggle to find anything remotely in the range of what could be considered fair compensation for the amount of work and range of responsibilities that fall under the Community Manager umbrella.
There are plenty of reasons why this may be the case, but the most likely culprits are:
Thankfully there is an upward trend in salaries over the past 12-18 months, but there is still plenty of room for improvement — especially for those who've been in the industry for a while.
A note before we dive into the data: if you're here, you likely know about the incredible boom in the industry in recent months. Naturally, we absolutely have to collect some shiny new data to share with everyone. If you're a Community Manager (or Community Lead/Chief Community Officer/Head of Community Wizardry/any other community role) we'd love it if you took a few minutes to fill out our updated survey here.
Here's what we uncovered when it comes to Community Manager salaries in 2020.
We launched this survey towards the end of last year, and over 100 people responded from all over the world. 20 different countries are represented in this analysis, with the split being about 70% from the US and 30% internationally. There were 38 DIFFERENT job titles represented, too. In many ways, this is a good sign: it shows how much nuance there is in the industry and responsibilities. Conversely, this is part of the problem — it shows there is minimal standardization of the roles in the community world, which makes it all the more difficult to understand how you should be compensated.
Something of note before we get into the numbers: we cleaned up the data a bit and excluded huge outliers so that it wouldn't impact averages too much in one direction (e.g. there were some full-time salaries that were below $10k annually, and others that were above $300k). All salaries are based in USD and are for full-time roles.
We'll dig into some of the specifics of what people with different job titles earn, but here's a fascinating level-set for ALL types of community jobs from around the world. North America (including the US and Canada) accounts for a majority of the responses we received, and annual salaries range anywhere from $26,000 USD to well over $176,000 USD for community professionals.
The next largest group represented in our responses is Europe, where the data painted a very different picture. Even though there are people with the same range of job titles as there are in North America, the salary range is significantly lower, with people making less than $25,000 USD and only making up to $75,000 USD annually.
It doesn't feel great to have to do this sort of analysis these days, but it's important to highlight where there's still room for improvement when it comes to pay equality. I would also like to call out that we are using "other" as the third option here to help not single anyone out based on their particular response.
It's always tricky to determine whether the average salary is a good data point to consider, since the cost of living and salaries vary significantly around the world. But I think it's important to have a baseline number to work off of, and do your own due diligence on what makes sense for where you live. If you're lucky, the company you're in negotiations with or already work for may not care where in the world you're located and will pay you according to what the industry average is.
So, without further ado, based on our survey responses the average salary for a full-time community manager is $77,000 USD. The median is $75,000 USD; the highest reported salary for a Community Manager is $220,000 USD (way to go!!!), and the lowest is $31,000.
Moving on up the responsibility chain comes along with a nice bump in salary (if you've been working in community for 4+ years, you've definitely earned it!). Senior Community Managers can expect an average salary of $102,000 USD, with the highest reported at $180,000 USD and lowest at $34,000 USD.
What's the average full-time Head of Community salary?
Once you've been around the block (on average 7+ years as a CM), salaries jump significantly. Again, there will always be differences in how companies view a "Head of" position and what the responsibilities and purview may be, so the range here varies significantly. The average salary for a Head of Community is $141,000 USD, with the highest reported salary at $375,000 USD and the lowest at $44,000 USD.
Now that you're armed with this information, what are you going to do with it? My hope is that it helps you in any compensation negotiations you have going forward.
I already know of a handful of people who have used the information from this survey to successfully negotiate higher starting salaries and much deserved raises.
In addition to having some real numbers in your back pocket, one of the best things you can do is to start better defining and tracking how your community and the work you do impacts other teams and revenue. Wherever possible, keep tabs on event ticket sales, sales leads, support deflection, partnerships, anywhere there may be overlap with other teams in achieving their goals, and bring this with you to any conversation.
Take stock of everything for which you're responsible. CMs accumulate a lot of varied responsibilities — even if you like doing all of those things, you're probably doing way more than should be expected of one person, and you're probably not compensated fairly for the effort you're putting in. Just as you did for tracking impact, make note of everything you're responsible for and how it touches other teams at your organization.
As I touched on above, we're so looking forward to collecting a ton of new data in line with the current market. And thanks to the numbers above, we'll have something to compare them to — fingers crossed for an upward trend.