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salary survey
For 30 years, EXHIBITOR Magazine's Annual Salary Survey has borne mostly good news about the state of exhibit and event professionals' compensation. From the good years to the leaner times, we've watched salaries and bonuses follow corporate America's fortunes. So what does the 30th annual survey tell us? Salaries are down, bonuses are up, and consumer costs are benevolently holding steady. By Travis Stanton
Full Salary Survey Navigation
Salaries for exhibit and event professionals have remained relatively predictable since 1987, when EXHIBITOR began tracking compensation data. Over the past 30 years, salaries annually inched up a percentage point or two, with very few exceptions. And unfortunately, 2016 was one of those exceptions.

According to the results of EXHIBITOR Magazine's 30th Annual Salary Survey, face-to-face marketing professionals' average base salary dipped for the first time since 2011. Thankfully, respondents' additional-compensation average increased by 24.6 percent, following a significant drop last year. All told, despite a 1.2-percent decrease in average base salaries, exhibit and event professionals' total compensation has increased by 1.5 percent since 2015.

Fortunately, that nominal uptick may go a little further than expected. For only the third time since 1975, the Social Security Administration has announced a 0-percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), as consumer prices have actually dropped in the past 12 months. That means after three consecutive years of COLA increases outpacing raises in the face-to-face marketing industry, exhibit and event professionals have a chance to gain a little ground.

And that's not the only silver lining. More than seven out of 10 respondents indicated that they received a raise in base salary during the past 12 months. Having said that, only two of the 10 most common titles experienced increases in average base salary, while the remaining eight saw slippage. But the data indicates those decreases are likely the result of the beginning of a generational shift in the workforce as Baby Boomers retire and their roles are filled by lower-earning Millennials.

The following pages feature statistics culled from our annual Salary Survey, along with historical analysis. Read on to discover whether your compensation is keeping pace with industry averages, or if you're being overworked and underpaid compared to your peers.


GOOD NEWS
➤ While average base salaries took a gentle dip, additional-compensation averages increased by 24.6 percent from $8,266 in 2015 to $10,301 in 2016, meaning exhibit and event professionals are taking home an average of $1,203 more this year than last.
➤ Even though the average base salary decreased, the majority of respondents (70.6 percent) received a raise in the past year.
➤ Job satisfaction has increased slightly compared to 2015, with 67 percent of respondents feeling "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with their careers.
➤ Respondents with the title exhibit or trade show coordinator reaped the biggest rewards this year, with a 7.4-percent increase in average base salary. Those with the title exhibit or trade show manager also saw a base-salary increase, earning 1.7-percent more than they did in 2015.
➤ Over half of respondents (52.8 percent) believe their compensation is appropriate for their responsibilities. That marks an increase of nearly 4-percent since 2015.
➤ A majority of exhibit and event managers (83.6 percent) report "average" or "strong" support from upper management, which marks a slight increase from 81 percent in 2015.

BAD NEWS
➤ Average base salaries dropped 1.2 percent compared to 2015. That marks only the fifth year-over-year base-salary decrease since 1987, and the first decrease in five years.
➤ More than one-fourth of all exhibit and event professionals work 50 hours or more per week, with 6 percent reporting 60-hour workweeks. Still, less than 14 percent receive any form of overtime pay.
➤ While two out of the 10 most common job titles among respondents (exhibit or trade show coordinator and exhibit or trade show manager) experienced increases in average base salaries, the remaining eight all saw slippage, with advertising and marketing managers experiencing a free fall of 19.1 percent since 2015.
➤ Unfortunately, a sizable gender gap still exists in the face-to-face marketing industry. The gap did narrow slightly in the past 12 months, but women still make just 81 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts.
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