The Community Roundtable has released their 2015 Community Careers and Compensation (CCC) report. This is the second year that they have done so, which is great because now we can compare one year to the next and see how we have progressed (or regressed, potentially). They are releasing the best compensation study for our industry, and should be applauded for it.

After having the opportunity to read the report, I wanted to share some of the data that caught my eye – and compare it to last year, where appropriate. There’s much more in the report than what I talk about below. It’s a free must-download for community professionals.

Who Took the Survey?

The data in the research comes from 362 community professionals. 55% of them work with external, public-facing communities. 23% work with internal communities. 22% work with both. Approximately 77% of the responses came from the United States, whereas 6% came from the non-U.S. Americas and 14% were from Europe.

As one might expect, there is a bit of a tech-bias industry wise, with 44% of professionals working at “high tech/telecom/software” companies, followed by 14% at nonprofits and 10% both “media/entertainment/publishing” and “business/legal/professional services” companies.

Average Salary

This year, they added the community specialist title to the salary breakdown,alongside community manager, community strategist and director of community. Last year, they broke salaries down by external and internal community. This time, it’s external and overall. Since the overall number wasn’t present last year, we can’t really compare it directly. Here are average salaries for each role:

Community Specialist

  • Overall: $54,260

Community Manager

  • External: $65,870 (5.7% decrease from last year)
  • Overall: $69,875

Community Strategist

  • External: $90,895 (6.8% increase)
  • Overall: $100,000

Director of Community

  • External: $108,750 (2.2% increase)
  • Overall: $113,365

When looking at these numbers, since 77% of them are from the United States, it is worth noting that the rate of inflation from November 2014 through October 2015 was 0.2%, which is far below the norm.

In the report, they note that comparing this year’s data, to last year’s, is “difficult and possibly misleading,” because only 1-in-5 professionals who took the survey in 2014 returned to take it again in 2015 and more media and nonprofit professionals participated. That last point could be used to explain the drop in community manager salaries. With their word of caution in mind, there are a few apples-to-apples areas where I think a comparison is interesting and worthwhile.

Plus, comparing from year-to-year is one of the primary use cases for a compensation study like this. If every year represents a salary that can’t be consistently tied to the year prior, then it becomes more challenging for organizations to take action on the data.

Job Titles and Advancement

The job titles of those surveyed break down as follows:

  1. Community manager – 44% (versus 55% last year)
  2. Community strategist – 17% (13%)
  3. Other – 17% (7%)
  4. Director of community – 14% (17%)
  5. Community specialist – 8% (8%)

The rise in the “other” category is rather sharp, which makes me wonder if there was an increase in director-level or higher participants in that category, given the drop in both community manager and director of community. It is mentioned in the survey that a small number of professionals identified as vice presidents.

47% of directors of community reported being promoted internally to their current role, while 44% of community strategies said the same. This is compared to 28% of community managers and 25% of community specialists.

Community as a Department (and Where it Sits Organizationally)

In 14% of the organizations represented, community is an independent department. I’m pleasantly surprised with that number and see it as a great starting point. Beyond that, however, when asked what department community was a part of, community professionals answered pretty diversely.

Internal Communities

  • Other – 24%
  • IT – 20%
  • Internal communications – 17%
  • Marketing – 15%
  • Knowledge management – 12%
  • Customer support – 6%
  • Independent department – 2%
  • HR – 2%
  • Product management – 2%

External Communities

  • Marketing – 32%
  • Other – 23%
  • Independent department – 18%
  • Customer support – 15%
  • Product management – 6%
  • External communications – 4%
  • IT – 2%


  • Other – 32%
  • Marketing – 26%
  • Independent department – 17%
  • Customer support – 9%
  • Knowledge management – 5%
  • IT – 4%
  • HR – 2%
  • External communications – 2%
  • Product management – 2%
  • Internal communications – 1%

This data, on the whole, is probably the biggest surprise to me within the entire report. The way people talk, you might expect community to be under marketing 60-70% of the time. A lot of people feel that marketing has (or should have) a stranglehold over community. But, clearly, that isn’t the case.

Independent departments aren’t even that far behind marketing, according to this data. Community is far more likely to not be under marketing, than it is to fall within the scope of that department.

Community Teams

A great addition to this year’s study was polling participants on the size of their community team, including part-time, full-time and volunteer members.


  • Average full-time: 3.9
  • Average part-time: 4.6
  • Percentage of volunteers: 24%
  • Solo community managers: 13%
  • No full-time community manager: 14%


  • Average full-time: 5.1
  • Average part-time: 4.0
  • Percentage of volunteers: 37%
  • Solo community managers: 14%
  • No full-time community manager: 12%


  • Average full-time: 7.5
  • Average part-time: 4.3
  • Percentage of volunteers: 23%
  • Solo community managers: 16%
  • No full-time community manager: 7%

I’m also pleasantly surprised here. These averages are pretty good. I’m sure a lot of community professionals will look at this and think, “I’d love to have 3.9 full-time team members!”


All-in-all, I’m encouraged by what I see here, and I think it speaks well to community’s continued growth as an industry and a discipline. We are moving in a good direction; where community is its own thing, on par and as important, organizationally, as more entrenched and traditional job functions.

Once again, The Community Roundtable deserves a lot of credit for producing the report, which is the most valuable piece of research on our profession, to date.