Digital agency programmers earn 26% less than ICT sector - survey

Johannesburg - Computer programmers who work for digital advertising agencies earn, on average, 26% less than their counterparts in the ICT sector, according to a survey.

Non-profit organisation, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) of South Africa, has revealed this finding in what it calls SA’s “first ever industry-endorsed digital salary survey”.

The survey reveals salaries of specialist skills in the digital marketing and communication industry and was conducted using a survey solution by Millward Brown.

The IAB said it provided contact details of IABSA members to Millward Brown “under strict non-disclosure agreements”, and the 2015/16 IAB salary survey was conducted late last year.

But the results indicate how digital agencies seemingly underpay computer programmers when compared to the information and communication technologies market.

“Another key finding is that the average gross monthly salary for programming roles within the agency environment is lower than the ICT sector,” said the IAB in a statement.

“On average, programming roles with agencies are paid up to 26% lower compared to those within the ICT sector,” said the IAB.

The IAB went on to say that there is a “clear reason” for this lower salary rate.

“As development isn't the primary core capability of digital agencies, compared to ICT and large-scale enterprise development firms, the salaries of developers are less,” said the IAB.

“This is balanced by digital agencies providing exposure for developers to a diverse range of projects that can test their craft and creativity as coders,” added the IAB.

Regarding programming roles, average monthly gross salaries range from R15 417 for a general front-end developer to R35 139 for a back-end developer specialist, according to the survey.

Meanwhile, IT managers earn average monthly gross salaries of R29 653 and system administrators earn R25 417, said the IAB survey.

What programmers, on average, get paid in the digital agency space. (IAB)

Other findings of the survey have revealed that large agencies offer on average 8% higher salaries compared to medium sized agencies.

“Large agencies are willing to invest more in experienced leaders where regional and business unit autonomy is relied upon. Medium-sized agencies on the other hand are showing more of a willingness to invest in particular inexperienced leaders, senior client-facing and project management personnel that can independently handle client or project tasks and specialist leaders in design and programming,” said the IAB.

“Interestingly, the data suggests that someone starting out in the industry is more likely to earn a higher salary at a medium-sized agency than a larger one,” said the IAB.

The IAB further said the top earners in digital - excluding executive and business unit leadership - include project director, art director, paid search manager, account director and operations manager.

The lowest earning roles - excluding interns, PAs and office managers - are content writers, database analysts, community managers, photographers or videographers and non-specialist front-end developers, said the IAB.

Read the salary survey in the below document

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