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Search Engine Marketers Salary Guide, 2008 Edition

Published: August 5, 2008

Author: David Rodnitzky


Search engine marketing is such a new field, it’s often hard to know how much to pay a search marketer, or for that matter, how much to ask for when applying for an SEM position. So I figured its time for someone to “blow the lid” off how much SEMs make these days in Silicon Valley.

A few caveats to this overview: this is not based on statistical data (for that, visit PayScale.com), just my anecdotal observations over the last eight years here. And since I’ve been ‘out of the job market’ now for almost a year now, I suppose its possible that salaries have changed considerably since then (though probably not).

Here it is, your guide to Silicon Valley SEM salaries:

Entry Level SEM (SEM Analyst):

  • Zero to one years of experience.
  • Most likely a recent college graduate, and most likely from Stanford or Berkeley!
  • Responsible for daily management of campaigns, basic grunt tasks.
  • No management of others.
  • Compensation: $45K-$55K, annual bonus from $0 to $5K.

Junior SEM (Senior SEM Analyst or SEM Manager):

  • One to three years of experience.
  • Responsible for some client interaction (if at an agency).
  • Some strategic decision making.
  • Possible management of one to three people.
  • Compensation: $55K-$85K, annual bonus from $0 to $15K.

Experienced SEM (Senior SEM Manager or Director of SEM):

  • Two to six years of experience.
  • Day to day management of some or all of an internal SEM team.
  • Responsible for much or all of strategy decision making.
  • Management of from two to 10 people.
  • Compensation: $75K to $130K, annual bonus from $0 to $25K.

Senior SEM (Director of SEM to VP of SEM):

  • Four or more years of experience.
  • Reporting to VP of Marketing or CEO.
  • Management of five or more people.
  • All strategic decisions as well as technical decisions.
  • Compensation: $130K to $250K, annual bonus from $10K to $50K.

So there it is. Let the controversy begin!

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