If you want to keep getting raises, get promoted to senior management. As tough as the economy has been, people in executive positions saw their paychecks increase by an average of 6.6% this year, to $108,800. That’s according to data just released by Compdata Surveys, a national compensation survey and consulting firm in Olathe, Kan.
Compdata looked at base salaries for 26 senior management jobs below C-level. For the eighth consecutive year, commercial lending directors take the top spot, with the highest average paychecks. They are earning $143,700, on average, in 2012, up from $139,000 last year.
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“Commercial lending directors hold the top spot again this year and have for many years. Although their salary did take a slight hit during the recession, it was minor compared to other senior management positions,” says Amy Kaminski, a vice president at Compdata Surveys. “This is likely because of the nature of their work.”
Commercial lending directors are responsible for the development, administration and oversight of commercial lending policies. “Since a large number of new businesses fail within the first five years, a lot of pressure is put on commercial lending directors to ensure the loans they are granting are sound,” Kaminski adds. “The recession only amplified the difficulty of this position as the qualifications to obtain any type of loan became more rigid.”
Ranking second on the list, engineering directors are making an average of $131,300 this year, up 7.4% from 2011.
“Engineering directors have always been one of the higher paid senior management positions,” Kaminski says. “Engineers are in great demand, and finding a person with the right combination of education, experience and leadership skills to oversee a company’s engineering activities can be difficult. Now, with speculation of an engineering shortage looming, compounded with an increased emphasis on growing the manufacturing industry in the United States, engineering directors have become a valuable asset.”
In the No. 3 position, general managers are earning $131,200, up slightly from $127,900 last year, while No. 4 finance directors are making $125,000, which is 9.5% more than they made in 2011.
The biggest winners over a five-year period are material management directors, who are earning 18% more this year than in 2007, and accounting directors, whose paychecks have grown 17.8% in the same period.
“Over the past several years, an emphasis has been placed on lean manufacturing practices, with these practices even inching their way into other industries,” Kaminski says. “Keeping tight control over inventory levels or materials needed for businesses to function is a big element of implementing lean practices – and that is where materials management directors come in.”
They control, measure, and regulate efficient inventory levels, making sure to have enough materials on hand to conduct business. “The recession reinforced this practice, as budgets were slashed and employers demanded that no dollar be wasted,” she says. “Keeping the proper amount of materials on hand while trying to ensure minimal or no overstock is a balancing act at which material management directors need to excel.”
Of the 26 jobs included in the survey, only one—controller assistant—is earning less in 2012 than last year. These professionals manage the accounting functions under the general direction of the controller, including establishing and maintaining accounting principles, practices, and procedures. To hold this position, you need a Bachelor’s degree and six years of experience. They’re earning $81,400 this year, down 2.2% from 2011.
“We would not consider this a large enough decrease to show a trend, especially since this position did experience a higher than expected increase in 2011,” Kaminski says. When you look at the overall results of the past five years, this position is still trending upward.
So, why are some employers compensating their managers so well right now?
“It’s no secret that having the most talented and experienced individuals on staff are going to be the key for most businesses to successfully begin moving forward after the recession. However, some studies suggest as the economy continues to improve, more individuals will be looking to change employment,” Kaminski says. “Companies cannot afford to lose those needed to lead their workers towards economic growth.”
Providing competitive compensation plans is an important element in retaining those individuals. Although the unemployment rate is just under 8%, the pool of qualified leadership candidates is significantly smaller, “making the need to retain your successful leaders that much more important,” she concludes.
Salary Data for All 26 Management Jobs:
Commercial Lending Director – $143,700 a year, on average
Engineering Director – $131,300 a year, on average
General Manager – $131,200 a year, on average
Finance Director – $125,000
Information Systems Director – $121,500
Accounting Director – $118,600
Development Officer – $118,200
Marketing Director – $118,100
Information Security Director – $116,600
Human Resources Director – $116,000
Operations Director – $115,200
Controller – $114,800
Materials Management Director – $113,000
Plant Manager – $112,000
Mortgage Lending Director – $111,100
Nursing Services Director – $109,600
Senior Manufacturing Manager – $108,000
National Sales Manager – $106,300
Systems and Programming Manager – $100,600
Plant Engineering Manager – $98,900
Distribution Manager – $86,500
Quality Control Manager – $83,600
General Accounting Manager – $83,300
Advertising and Public Relations Manager – $82,500
Human Resources Manager – $82,000
Assistant Controller – $81,400