The Community Roundtable has released some preliminary results from their recently completed Community Manager Salary Survey 2014. More than 350 community professionals participated. They were asked about their responsibilities, compensation, level of experience and more.

The full report, sponsored by Jive, is due later this year. But I wanted to talk about some of the early data that caught my eye. To view all of the information, download the infographic that they released.

The infographic breaks the research down into three roles: community manager, community strategist and director of community.

Average Salaries

Salaries are not only divided by role, but by whether or not the professional is responsible for an internal (employee-facing) or external (market-facing) community. They found that those who manage employee-facing communities earned around 7% more.

Community Manager

  • External: $69,887
  • Internal: $74,939 (7.23% more)

Community Strategist

  • External: $85,075
  • Internal: $90,400 (6.26%)

Director of Community

  • External: $106,356
  • Internal: $113,263 (6.49%)

These salary figures are respectable and better than those I have seen in other articles about community manager compensation. You have to keep in mind that these are averages. Salaries skew upward based upon cost of living, experience and other factors. There are community managers earning six figures, just as there are directors of community earning $150,000 or more.

These salary figures also don’t touch on higher roles that exist – understandable, given there are less people employed in those roles. But 7% of those surveyed had a job title other than the three mentioned here (or community specialist). A portion of that 7% is likely more senior roles. The more senior the role – the increased chances of a higher salary.

Average Level of Experience

They surveyed participants not only on their community-focused work experience, but on their time spent in the workforce in total.

Community Manager

  • External: 10.8 years in workforce, 4.2 years in community (39% of their work experience has been community)
  • Internal: 15.6 years, 4.7 years (30%)

Community Strategist

  • External: 14.3 years, 6.9 years (48%)
  • Internal: 15.3 years, 4.5 years (29%)

Director of Community

  • External: 16.4 years, 7.4 years (45%)
  • Internal: 16.2 years, 7.1 years (44%)

These numbers illustrate how community has really taken off as a profession over the past 4-6 years. Hence why the average community professional has spent 8+ years in a different discipline before moving to community. It’s interesting to me that each line is pretty close as far work as total workforce experience (except for external community managers), but what separates their job role is how early they started in community.

In other words, the average internal community manager only has .6 less years in the workforce than the average internal director of community. But what separates them is that the average director of community started working in this field 2.4 years earlier.

Working Remotely

More than a quarter of all community professionals work remotely “most of the time.” 24% of community managers and strategists work remotely, while 41% of directors of community work remotely. This means that directors of community are 71% more likely to work remotely than community managers and strategists.

The infographic suggests that individuals with those more senior skill sets are rarer, which provides them with a stronger position in negotiations with their employer.

Job Titles and Advancement

Here is how the job titles broke down by survey participants:

  1. Community manager – 55%
  2. Director of community – 17%
  3. Community strategist – 13%
  4. Community specialist – 8%
  5. Other – 7%

I’m a little surprised by the popularity of the community strategist and community specialist titles. I do see them around sporadically, but not with any great frequency. Clearly, they are out there. Which is good – it’s good for our profession to have more than a couple of titles, so that people have space to stretch out and grow a bit, as well as have something to grow into.

36% of those surveyed said that they had been promoted within the profession – from one community job to a better one.

Final Thoughts

Thank you to The Community Roundtable for conducting the survey, Jive for sponsoring it and everyone who participated. I look forward to seeing the full results when they are released.

We need freely available, comprehensive data like this because it helps move us forward. If this doesn’t happen, then we have nothing to combat haphazard information that pegs the profession as being worth far less than it actually is.

Overall, I am encouraged by these numbers. As community professionals continue to push into more senior roles, I’ll be excited to see how that reflects upon numbers like these.