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Salary Question

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Cadge31Salary Question
by on Mar 8, 2007 at 3:39:41 am

Hello all,

I've been working at an advertising agency for almost a year and half. My title at the firm is "video editor". However, I am also frequently used for my shooting abilities. And, from time to time, I serve as an IT guy and fix minor computer problems. I work 40 hours a week and make just under $30,000.00 a year. I recently discovered a stack of the previous editor's pay stubs laying around, and he was making almost twice what I make. Granted I got this job straight out of college, but I have built an impressive reel over the last and a half. Also, my boss recently told me that I am the best editor the firm has ever had. I also know that the firm is not doing well financially. Do the professionals in this forum think I am underpaid? And should I be seeking a raise? It's a tough situation. There are only 3 of us working there full-time and 1 part-time. I am the only non-family memebr. Thanks.


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Del HolfordRe: Salary Question
by on Mar 8, 2007 at 2:35:07 pm

I would say you are being underpaid. So how do you approach your manager to ask for more money knowing what you know?

The company isn't doing well right now. Is that the boss's fault or just a short term economic slump? Would keeping quiet and looking for another position help or hurt? What are those prospects like? Do you like working there? If the financial situation improves do you plan on staying? Could you ask for a financial interest in the company in lieu of more money? Would you want to?

Those are somwe questions to ponder...maybe the paper with the line down the middle and options pro and con on each side will help you see the issue clearly. Life is full of choices. HTH

fire*, smoke*, photoshopCS2
Charlotte Public Television

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Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.Re: Salary Question
by on Mar 8, 2007 at 6:41:07 pm

I too would think you are probably being underpaid.

There are a lot of factors that we don't know... what your city is, what the cost of living is there and what a typical editor makes in that area.

Secondly, what kind of work and what kind of productions does this advertising agency produce? Is it high-end (productions with budgets in the tens of thousands of dollars), or low-end (few hundred-dollar car spots)? Or somewhere in the middle? Most in-house agency-produced stuff is midrange (low stuff goes to TV stations, high-end stuff goes to outside production companies), so for the moment I will operate on that assumption....

If it is midrange stuff, I'd say you are being underpaid. If it is high-end stuff, AND/or you really are the best he has ever worked with AND you really do have a kickass reel... then I would say you are being grossly underpaid.

A lot of it has to do with experience level: someone who is fresh out of school is not going to make as much as someone who has been doing it for a long time even IF the rookie is as good or better than the veteran. Not fair, but that's just how it is.

Plus there is the old rule of supply and demand. Say if you were to leave, can the guy replace you with someone as good (or... good ENOUGH) for the same $30K? If so, your bargaining position is weak... but if he can't, your bargaining position is strong. Just depends on what is happening in your market... you should be able to investigate that a little.

Plus plus... how much is he spending on other stuff to support video production? Do you work in a suite that cost him tens of thousands of bucks?... or a couple thousand?

Plus plus plus... can you find out why your predecessor who was making twice your salary left? Maybe the boss couldn't afford him anymore.

Just as a comparison, we are in a mid-sized city in the Southeast. We are an independent production company but we chiefly work for agencies doing commericials... I'd say the budget for a typical :30 spot is somewhere in the $5-$10K range. My senior editor is the best that I could hope to find, VERY fast, and a whiz at Premiere Pro, FCP, After Effects and Discreet Combustion. He doesn't shoot, but I sometimes use him on location as crew (sound or grip). I pay him about 50% more than you are making. I could probably find someone in probably the $25-30K neighborhood, but the guy I have is the very best and I pay him what it takes to keep him happy, make him part of the team, and to keep him from looking elsewhere. I basically pay him well because he is indispensible.

If you are indispensible to your boss (or can make yourself so), then you should be comfortable in asking for a raise, even if his purse strings are tight. He can only say no.


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Mark SuszkoRe: Salary Question
by on Mar 8, 2007 at 8:08:49 pm

You are either underpaid or over-worked, apparently doing the job of three guys for half what they paid ONE guy for ONE job. I'd be irked too. If you don;t dare aask for a raise, you might ask to do less of the other two unpaid job, saying something like" you're paying me to edit, and not to (insert task here)." Yes, that might get you fired. See my other post in the biz forum for another take on this issue.

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Kevin SioRe: Salary Question
by on Mar 9, 2007 at 7:16:26 pm

I don't know what other options you have in the area in which you live. You might try to explore some free-lance opportunities. Maybe get a couple of pro bono jobs, local non-profits are always looking for that kind of thing. If you could get your own edit system together (big $ up front I know) then you might be able to expand your opportunities. Maybe you could cut a deal with your employer to allow you to use his suite. He might pick up more clients that way. If you think you have the chops...simply start looking for other work. Pick a city or region that you might like and go for it. Better to do it when you are young and mobile. And yes, I echo all the above, you are under paid.


Kevin Sio
Corporate Communications
National Grid

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Cadge31Re: Salary Question
by on Mar 13, 2007 at 1:59:10 pm

I actually run my own business on the side as it is. I could expand it and put more time into it. I have all of my own equipment and my own high-end edit suite. Perhaps it's time for me to take matters into my own hands.

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Tim KolbRe: Salary Question
by on Mar 13, 2007 at 5:33:03 pm

Just be careful about taking the leap out on your own.

Your paycheck may not be what you'd like it to be...but for the moment it's there every payday. I'd build some work on the side (preferrably without doing anything unethical like taking work away from your employer) until you have some base to keep the roof and the groceries paid for...

Kolb Productions,

Creative Cow Host,

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stephRe: Salary Question
by on May 23, 2007 at 7:50:55 am

What Tim said.

Make some connections and keep it going. Don't take business away from them but make sure your name is connected to the work you do with them, at least in the client's minds. ;)

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Leah ChapmanRe: Salary Question
by on Jul 16, 2007 at 6:29:06 pm

Start - very carefully - to make your move now. You are at the point where you realize you are being underpaid. You know the company can't afford to pay you more. Start to make your move now. Make sure your reel is up-to-date, start focusing on your side work, and realize that this is The Beginning of the End.

I made the mistake of staying in my old job for two years after I realized I was being underpaid, and in the end we were all miserable. I was miserable about my low salary and long hours, my employers were miserable about not being able to pay me more and my waning enthusiasm for working late. Don't make the same mistake I made. A paycheck is great, bennies are wonderful, but think about your quality of life and start planning your exit.

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