Human resource trends in a growing profession
This second iteration of the DAM Foundation salary survey was conducted in 2014 in an effort to build a continuous body of linear data on the demographics, duties, and salaries of Digital Asset Managers. Results include trends in the hiring, retention, and pay of demographic groups in the developing profession of digital asset management. Building on the results of the survey conducted two years previously, the DAM Foundation continues its mission to set standards in digital asset management, and to be the premier source of information to the community of digital asset management professionals.
In 2012 the Digital Asset Management (DAM) Foundation conducted a survey of those working with DAM-type systems in order to better define the emerging profession they seek to represent. Given the cost and effort of DAM installation, hiring and retaining the best Digital Asset Managers is crucial to producing a return on investment for DAM systems. By gathering information regarding demographics, work environment, and pay, the DAM Foundation has been able to assist businesses seeking to implement DAM systems by providing information regarding the type of employees needed to successfully maintain the information and investment a DAM represents.
By surveying successful Digital Asset Managers who are engaged with their profession, the DAM Foundation hopes to assist employers in avoiding system failure by collecting and disseminating information on professionals who are successful in this new field. The follow-up survey conducted in 2014 furthers the goals of the DAM Foundation of both becoming the professional organization for Digital Asset Managers and to set standards for the DAM industry. By creating linear sets of data, changes in the demographics and pay of the new workforce can be monitored and discussed based on facts instead of anecdotal evidence.
Survey participants were asked to provide information based on their previous twelve months of work. The survey was open online from January 15 of 2014 until January 10 2015. Just over one hundred participants contributed to the data, and it is hoped that more Digital Asset Managers can be recruited to take part in future data gathering efforts. The DAM Foundation plans to conduct this survey every two years in order to build continuous trend lines for the professional community it serves.
The survey was made available on the DAM Foundation website, and was constructed using the online tool Wufoo, which provided easily retrievable metrics. The survey was promoted within the DAM community via twitter, LinkedIn groups for DAM professionals, and posts on Google Plus. The inherent bias of the survey is therefore towards a self-selected audience that is more likely to be engaged in professional development, conference attendance, and social media.
The authors of this article realize that many more conclusions, correlations, and debates are immediately evident when the collected data is studied. However, by making the data set publicly available, the DAM Foundation hopes to encourage and foster further writing and scholarship of our emerging profession. The raw data collected for the survey is available freely (scrubbed of any data that might directly identify participants) on the Human Resources page of damfoundation.org.
The most notable changes in the collected data between the first and second iteration of this survey were a drop in average pay and the rise of a those with library degrees in the survey respondents. The drop in average salary may reflect the globalization of DAM use – that is, Digital Asset Management systems are now employing talent in geographic regions where the pay is, on average, much less than in the traditional media centers of London, New York, and Southern California. The rise of those with library school degrees in the data may be truly reflective of a trend in the industry or may be an error of bias in the self-selected survey respondents.
As with the previous results in 2012, the findings of this survey illustrate that the skills needed to excel in Digital Asset Management work continue to be found in individuals across a broad range of age groups and educational backgrounds. In keeping with the goal of reporting data that can be tracked across years in a comparative way, readers of the previous article that reported results (Results from the DAM Foundation Salary Survey: Who we are, where we work, what we do, and how we are paid, Journal of Digital Media Management, Vol. 2 no. 1, Fall 2013) will recognize the structure of this report as mirroring its predecessor. The remainder of this text will break down survey results by demographic, employment, and compensation data from the largest groups of participants in each category, and discuss whether the reporting has remained static or changed.
Basic Self-Reported Demographics of Digital Asset Managers
There was little change in the reported general demographics of Digital Asset Managers as a whole.
|Age||2012 results||2014 results||Race||2012 results||2014 results||Gender||2012 results||2014 results|
The remainder of this report will seek to break down major groups of interest to the Digital Asset Management profession and draw conclusions from correlations in reported data. Special attention will be given to areas where large disparities in income exist, as this may be helpful to those in the field.
Age remained the biggest predictor of earning capability among Digital Asset Managers in the DAM Foundation Salary Survey. As a result, this section of the survey will receive the most attention in this article.
In the new survey, the category of DAM workers in the age cohort of 25-34 remained overwhelmingly female (70%). One change in this age group was the shift to jobs with employers in the consumer products sector, whereas before the participants had been evenly distributed across industries. The lower pay of those 25-34 is more likely the result of their youth rather than their education. Digital Asset Managers in this age range were also more likely to report having a MLS/MLIS (Library Science Masters) than other age ranges, reflecting the shifting nature of library work.. In the 2012 survey, 41% reported holding an MLS/MLIS; this increased to 47% in 2014. Unsurprisingly given their age, this group held the highest number of participants reporting DAM as a first career at 44%.
Just as their younger counterparts, this group was more likely to report having a master’s degree than those above them in age, but the make up of these degrees changed in the new data. In 2012, 19% reported holding a library degree, but this increased to 26% in 2014. Another interesting change was the gender balance achieved in this age cohort, a nearly even split between the sexes. An increase in those showing DAM as a first career was shown as well, up to 24% in 2014 from 6% in 2012.
In 2012, this group of workers had the biggest gap in pay between median and mean, but in 2014 the difference between those two numbers was negligible. The only other change in this category was the shift from 32% employment in consumer product concerns to a more even representation across industries, with a shift down to just 15% consumer products. With no other changes in reported statistics, this age group of digital asset managers remained even split by gender, mostly employed in consumer products, mostly in creative or design departments, and about half of them held some sort of four year college degree.
A big demographic shift in respondents occurred in the gender make up of respondents in the age group 55-64. In 2012, this age cohort of digital asset managers was the only to report being majority male and 100% white. In 2014, 70% of respondents were female, and reported race lined up with overall results at just over 80%. What remained constant were the numbers showing these most experienced Digital Asset Managers were also the most likely to be unemployed or underemployed with 25% reporting less than full time work.
While the pay gap between women and men in the general workforce is well documented, it should be noted that a significant factor to that gap is age. Of female respondents, 42% were under the age of 35, compared to just 25% of males. 41% of men fell into the 35-44 age category, while women of this age were only 22%. All other categories were about equal.
The inverse relationship in men and women in the DAM profession in the groups 25-34 and 35-44 has two different causes if correlated to larger societal trends. First, in the lower age group, women under 35 are far more likely to hold higher degrees of education, leading them to professional jobs earlier in life (https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/education/cb11-72.html). Second, the dropout rate of women 35-44 in the workforce is often due to pressure to stay home in order to care for the very young or aging (http://www.esa.doc.gov/sites/default/files/reports/documents/womeninamerica.pdf). This mid-life work crunch for women leads to lower salaries over their lifetimes, even once they return to the workforce in equal numbers for ages 45 and up (http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/12/11/on-pay-gap-millennial-women-near-parity-for-now/).
A flip in these numbers may occur in the next few decades though, as those women who enter the workforce earlier build up better resumes – and salaries – than their male partners. A rise in stay at home men has been noted when it makes more financial sense for dad to take a workforce break (http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/06/05/growing-number-of-dads-home-with-the-kids/). It is therefore hoped that an equalization of pay will occur in coming years.
Correlations by Employer
Reported Employers of Digital Asset Managers by percentage of respondents
|Consumer Products||21%||Consumer Products||31%|
|Other for Profit||20%||Other for Profit||13%|
In the first survey of 2012, over a quarter of participants would not list their type of employer, possibly to avoid being identified. Two years after the first results were published, those gathering data and publishing articles for the DAM Foundation have gained more trust among their professional peers, resulting in the other/unlisted category dropping to 15% of respondents. The six most common employers reported in the survey are compared below, excluding those who chose not to identify their employer by type.
Salaries as compared by reported employer type
As in the 2012 survey, those employed by academic institutions were still likely to make less than those employed elsewhere. New to the study for 2014 were the inclusion of enough consultants to make a measurable sample, and their salaries now register as the highest for digital asset managers. Within each employer, those managing DAMs may work in a variety of departments or divisions, and there are interesting pay differences in these as well.
Salaries by Functional Units in Employer Organizations
As in 2012, those who held DAM jobs in marketing departments made more than their peers by every measure, and those in archives made the least. The survey showed that these two groups still report the same primary duties in their jobs – showing that while DAM work is DAM work, where you sit in an organization matters very much in terms of pay.
In the 2012 survey, no correlation between educational background and pay rate existed. In 2014, there was a clear difference in some categories. Those with an MBA earned more than those with any other degree, and those with an associates earned the least. The average age of the respondents may be creating a false correlation here; those with an MBA were exclusively over 45, while all other categories carried a more diverse mix of age ranges. In another change from the 2012 data, those respondents with an MLS/MLIS were much more reflective of age ranges in the salary as a whole. In 2012, there were no MLS/MLIS holders over 35; in 2014 those with a library degree could be found in every age cohort under 55.
Job titles for those who work with DAM systems remain varied, but a shift to including the terms “manager” and “specialist” has occurred, possibly due to the sample job descriptions provided by the DAM Foundation itself (http://damfoundation.org/?page_id=31443 ). A slight uptick in the use of the word “coordinator” in DAM job titles show s how the emphasis of the use of DAMs across departments and divisions may be occurring as an industry trend.
Those with the term “Director” in their title tended to make the highest salaries, and those with the term “Archivist” or Archives” tended to have lower incomes. There were no other clear correlations between title and salary. One listing that included the word “Supervisor” in the title made as much as other “Director”s; many with the title “Specialist” showed no appreciable difference than those listed as a “Manager”. This suggests that when reviewing the resumes of experienced DAM workers, an analysis of their actual daily duties, tasks, and projects may be more of an indicator of skill level than job title.
DAM Salaries Overall
Average Reported Salaries of Full Time Digital Asset Managers
Above are two sets of data regarding the change of salaries in self-reported Digital Asset Managers. In the first, a listing of aggregate salaries, we can see that very little has changed; there are roughly the same percentage of workers making less than $80,000 per year and roughly the same percentage making over that amount. However, in the second set of data parsing salaries by median (middle of list) and mean (average), a drop occurs. This is due in part to the globalization of DAM; whereas survey participants in 2012 were concentrated notably in London, New York, and Southern California, participants in 2014 were much more distributed. Regrettably, the data set is still not large enough to show geographic distribution without running the risk of ruining a participant’s anonymity. It is hoped that in the next survey, a greater sample set will lead to at least the availability of regional data with meaning.
The use of Digital Asset Management systems continues to spread globally, and these new jobs continue to pick up younger employees. As the demand for highly skilled labor in this market rises, it is hoped that salaries will rise as well. Due to the differences in pay geographically, it is no longer relevant to use the median or mean pay figures when offering salaries for new positions; instead, experience in the field should be the determining factor. This is evident when comparing the reported years in current profession of those lower on the income scale to those on the highest.
|Salaries $40,000 – $59,999||Salaries $120,000+|
|Years with Employer||Years in current profession||Years with Employer||Years in current profession|
|Less than 1 year||31%||Less than 1 year||14%||Less than 1 year||10%||Less than 1 year||0|
|1-3 years||19%||1-3 years||22%||1-3 years||40%||1-3 years||0|
|3-5 years||11%||3-5 years||22%||3-5 years||20%||3-5 years||0|
|5-10 years||10%||5-10 years||25%||5-10 years||10%||5-10 years||30%|
|10-15 years||6%||10-15 years||6%||10-15 years||20%||10-15 years||40%|
|More than 15 years||8%||More than 15 years||11%||More than 15 years||0||More than 15 years||30%|
Note that those making the most working with DAM systems all have more than five years of experience, and have made a point of changing employers more often than those making less. With age still being the greatest predictor of salary, it is striking that none of those in the highest income bracket have been with their employers for more than 15 years, although nearly one third of them have been in their current profession that long.
Digital Asset Management is still a new profession, and doubtless shifts will continue to occur in the demographics, structure, and pay related to this field. The DAM Foundation has posted the raw data associated with their studies at damfoundation.org, and invites others to examine the data and contribute their own findings to the growing literature in the field.