ASBPE Publishes Exclusive 2002 Salary, Workplace Survey Results

Results show median salary for business editors, writers at $52,000.
ASBPE has published the results of its 2002 Salary and Workplace Survey. The survey was developed in partnership with Up2Right Consulting, a Denver-based research company. And for ASBPE members, there’s an online salary calculator based on the survey data.
The survey put the median annual salary for business press editors and writers at $52,000. Last year’s survey put the median salary at $55,001.
The analysis focused on the median salary rather than the mean (average) salary because there are almost always a few high-earning and low-earning individuals that skew the data if they are averaged in with the rest of the salaries. The median is the value that appears at the midpoint of the list when all the data are listed in numerical order. “The median salary approach avoids this problem entirely,” explains Scott Evans, the principal consultant at Up2Right.

Survey highlights

59 percent of the respondents felt their jobs were secure.
44 percent of the editors said advertisers sometimes have a voice in the editorial content of their magazine.
66 percent felt pressure to develop or help develop ideas for increasing magazine revenues.
64 percent said part of their job is to provide PR for the magazine.
40 percent said part of their job was to provide PR for the industry their magazine covers.
47 percent said their company or magazine subsidizes external training.
Yet only 23 percent said that their company or magazine offers the training they need.
75 percent felt a national business publication editor association is important to the profession.
33 percent said their magazine sometimes publishes articles in which the facts have not been verified.
40 percent of editors said new hires straight from college have poor writing/editing skills.
66 percent spent less than 25 percent of their time supporting their publication’s Internet-related activities.
17 percent spend at least 50 percent of their time supporting their Web activities.


Up2Right sent e-mail and written letters to 3,400 editors on business publications asking them to answer an online salary survey posted at the Up2Right Web site. Participants were promised access to the salary survey results and the online salary calculator if they completed the survey. More than 95 percent of the respondents opted to receive the report. The survey generated 541 usable responses, a rate of 15.9 percent.
“A common error source in many studies is nonresponse bias, which are errors introduced by differences between the population of respondents versus non-respondents,” says Evans. “In our judgment, this is not a problem here. The response rate is adequate and we are able to tabulate against many different demographic characteristics, including title and experience.”
Ensuring that the data could be used to help predict editorial salaries was “part of the challenge and fun” of doing the survey, Evans said. “We are pleased with the median salary predictor model we created with this data. Sixty-two percent of the variability of the data is explained by the model. This is a relatively high figure of merit for data of this type.”


Especially in a struggling economy, it is not uncommon for editors to take on more responsibilities without a corresponding increase in salary or change in job title. However, the study does show a pattern of increasing salaries with upward changes of job title and with increasing experience.
Most of the 541 respondents received raises in the last year. The median salary increase was 3 percent.
The average salaries for various levels of responsibility are as follows:

Editorial Salaries by Job Level
Job level Salary
Executive-level editorial $67,170
Senior-level editorial 57,307
Mid-level editorial 41,070
Junior-level editorial 30,334
Writer/senior writer 49,980

Unlike some professions, such as engineering, in which salaries peak early and often decline with experience, our profession rewards experience. The tabulation for age shows a similar pattern, but salary is best accounted for by years of professional experience, as shown in the table below.

How Amount of Experience Affects
Editorial Salaries
Amount of experience Salary
Less than 2 years $35,304
2-4 years 43,931
5-9 years 54,493
10-20 years 65,043
More than 20 years 91,231

Men and Women. The men in this study as a group earned more than the women. “This is a common finding in salary surveys,” Evans notes. “The salary model isolates this factor and predicts approximately a 12 percent difference in salary,” he says.
“Still, broad demographic measures such as this tend to be a catchall for other demographic factors not contained in the survey. The difference is not necessarily evidence of sexism or disparate pay practices in the workplace, just as pay that happened to be the same would not rule out the existence of such practices.”
Hours Worked. For all the consolidation and turmoil in the publishing industry, fewer editors said they worked long hours this year. This year, 28 percent of the respondents worked 46 or more hours a week. Last year, 35 percent of the respondents worked 46 or more hours a week.

How Much Do Editors Work?
Number of hours worked per week Percent of respondents
Fewer than 40 hours 9%
40 hours 29
41-45 hours 34
46-50 hours 19
More than 50 hours 9

But longer hours are associated with higher pay.

Hours Worked Versus Salary
Number of hours worked per week Salary
Fewer than 40 hours $44,008
40 hours 50,522
41-45 hours 55,630
46-50 hours 67,785
More than 50 hours 80,822

Online Salary Calculator

ASBPE members can use an Interactive Salary Predictor based on the survey data. The calculator immediately figures a median salary based on demographic data the user enters, including

  • job title,
  • work location,
  • years working on business publications,
  • number of professional journalism positions held,
  • gender,
  • education,
  • magazine revenue, and
  • number of full-time people on an editorial staff.