How Much Cash Do Ad Copywriters REALLY Make? by Kevin Browne

June 8th, 2010

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Soooo. You’re interested in how much ad copywriters actually make, are you? Don’t be embarrassed. You can say that you are.

Well hand onto your socks, because the average salary of ad copywriters is anything but ordinary.

Junior ad copywriters right out of ad school certainly don’t make what MBA’s make, but it’s nothing that would require us to grab a Kleenex and well up with tears. With portfolios that still boast that ‘new car smell’, good junior copywriters start at about $25 to $35K. (Obviously as you hear these numbers, be aware that the lower numbers are usually more correct, whereas the upper numbers could be MUCH higher.)

Once a year or two has passed and the junior writer has done some good old fashioned ad producing, a full fledged ad copywriter in New York and Chicago and San Fran should already be making close to or slightly above fifty thousand. Not too shabby when you think that a salary could potentially double in just a year and a half!

Is it any wonder why people are standing in lines around city blocks with their portfolios?

Okay, here’s an interesting point…many ad copywriters choose never to go above the rank of Copywriter. Why?

Because they want never to have to manage people. They don’t want to do anything but write ads. And they have the right to do just that.

To these people, titles mean absolutely nothing…since in the end, all creatives at all agencies go after every project as an equal. Meaning the most senior ad people compete against the most junior people ALL THE TIME. And if it weren’t for all the politics involved, the junior guys usually come up with better work. (They’re not yet tarnished in the business.)

Moving on from Copywriter is Senior Copywriter ($65 thousand…give or take) Associate Creative Director ($75-$90 plus the added benefit of those two gorgeous words: “Creative Director.”

Creative Directors make up to and above $200 thousand. Then there’s Group Creative Directors (can be up to $300K, and Executive Creative Directors (who, in the big 6 cities across the country can make four five and six hundred thousand.)

And if you find these numbers nuts, DO NOT even consider that there are still at least two or three levels above that!

Mercy.

So the next time you’re out for drinks with an ad copywriter or an art director, absolutely, under no circumstances, should you ever reach for YOUR wallet when the waiter shows up.

About The Author

Twenty year veteran of Madison Avenue, Kevin Browne now devotes all his time to copywriting, advertising and his new site http://www.become-a-copywriter.com.

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