The Price We Pay: Follow-up

/ Comments (11)

In reference to our editorial piece on the rather pathetic pay scale in Denver-metro, we offer the following salary guide “borrowed” from The Creative Group. Multiply the rates in this PDF by 1.025 and you’ll get the price you should be at in Colorado in your position. Here’s a description of each position if you’d like that too.

This still seems a bit low to us for quality personnel. But is this pretty much in line with your staff salary or annual take-home as a freelancer? Or are we right in demanding a change?


I’d like to commend you for going out on a limb and taking a necessary first step at proactively engaging the design community about the value of design thinking and process.

I’d ask though, that we continue the discourse by encouraging a more inclusive tone when referencing the various forces that influence the fees we command.

Often times the “bottom feeders” are unaware of the impact they are having on the whole of the industry.

Education could go along way toward mitigating the anxiety we feel when estimating a project in this city.

I would be down for an informal gathering by all parties concerned, soon hopefully.


How accurate are these salary ranges? Is this what people in Denver “should” be making, or an average of what they “are” making?

I’d just like to know before I bust into work tomorrow morning and go ape-shit on my company for being overworked and underpaid.

Hey Ddowner. These are average salary rates people are making.

These salaries feel a bit low to me, at least from a national average. Of course, there is a pretty big disparity between the low and high.

I spent the last several months interviewing around the country and many of the positions I was interviewing for were a lateral move with a 20-30% pay increase. Overall, the midwest appeared to have the highest pay scale.

I believe it is very important for us to work toward a sustainable creative industry in the Denver Metro area that is on par nationally.

I’ve enjoyed this article and debate. Thanks.

Here is a link i found from a HOW online forum:

Yeah, these do seem pretty low overall compared to other markets but in my experience, they’re right on point for Denver.

Anyone know what causes the wide spread between the low and the high for the same position? In other words, what makes one Creative Director worth 80k at the low end and 130k at the high end? Does a bigger shop usually land closer to the high or the low? Or is it all about experience? Does this include Boulder? If not, does anyone have data comparing the average in Denver to the average in Boulder?

Once again, Kudos to The Egotist for the background work on this. Real numbers are exactly what Agency owners need to see in order to either a.) make sure their people are properly compensated and well taken care of or b.) not be surprised when their best talent is walking out the door.

For the designers and engineers, now you know. This is straight from a staffing agency here in town. If you’re getting phucked, have the testicular fortitude to do something about it. Otherwise, you’re part of the problem.

NOTE: For the inevitable “But, it’s not all about money – Dont be greedy – We do this because we love it” posts, no one is saying money is the only important consideration when choosing to take/hold onto/leave a job. This discussion is bigger than that. It’s about talent owning up to their own real value and demanding what is FAIR. Not trying to get over or pull down more than their worth. It’s about growing up and taking responsibility for a dismal pay scale in this otherwise awesome market.

Wow. I must say that I think this is one of the most important and appropriately addressed posts I’ve seen on this site, to this day. Hi-Five to which ever egotist is on point with this.

I also think its very surprising that “Kismet” found that the midwest pays best?

lifter, i was also surprised by that. what does kismet mean by mid west? are we talking chicago / minneapolis? or kansas city / st louis? all of them?

props to egotist as well. great topic, great research and best of all great participation by everyone offering insight.

I’ve always thought Talent Zoo was pretty accurate. Thoughts?

nice resource david.

in my experience both talent zoo and the creative group are representative to the freelance market, but not what studios and agencies are willing to pay their staff. i’ve found that studios are paying significantly lower to staff than freelancers. but isn’t that always the case?

I’ve been in a number of markets and I’ve found a lot of people do look at Talent Zoo for actual staff salaries and from what I’ve seen they seem to be pretty accurate.

Yes, freelancers get paid much more than their staff counterparts. This is the norm.

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