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Salary ranges?

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Well, I'm thinking of taking a full time position, I'm sort of tired of the freelancing thing. I want to be ready for the "how much money are you looking for?" question. Does anyone here know what the salary ranges are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for a Smoke/After Effects person?

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drevil.jpg

 

 

Seriously, last time I was playing this game I looked at the average cost of housing in the area (in a reasonable area.. not the ghetto, and not the ritzy side of town), and estimated the cost of a mortgage and came up with a figure that placed my mortgage cost a 30% of my salary.

 

Granted, this has nothing to do with experience or design, but I figured that a Sr position should allow a person to own a home in the area that the business is in. The 30% is what (I believe) loan officers use as a benchmark when doing a credit check to establish income versus housing cost, or something I made up altogether.

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Thanks for your response, and it does make sense. Now the follow up question would be, do the local companies agree with that logic?

 

In other words, a house you describe if I'm searching correctly, a house sells for ~$200K, that makes a mortgage cost roughly $1.3K per month (not including taxes and insurance), that puts the yearly salary at ~$52K, is that the math you followed?

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Thanks for your response, and it does make sense. Now the follow up question would be, do the local companies agree with that logic?

 

In other words, a house you describe if I'm searching correctly, a house sells for ~$200K, that makes a mortgage cost roughly $1.3K per month (not including taxes and insurance), that puts the yearly salary at ~$52K, is that the math you followed?

 

Hmmm... I guess that seems a bit low. I guess at that point, your experience really needs to chime in and evaluate your own worth on top of a base salary.

 

To answer your question, no.. I think many companies don't seem to agree. This is why I've been sticking to my guns, and I am still in the glorious city of Detroit. Everyone's all like.. "why don't you live in LA?". And I'm like, "Well, I have a house with a yard in a safe neighborhood." I've not been able to get this to to translate to LA. I know LA is expensive, but that's not my fault.

 

Anyway... the salary discussion has been done to death, and it's very arbitrary as we are finding here. It depends on experience, area, skill and your negotiation ability.

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yeah, that's what I'm coming to find. Salary is such a subjective figure that it's impossible to calculate scientifically, it's more like think of a number, spurt it out and hope for the best.

 

I guess the question was more like "whats the least/most you've heard someone making?", of course, that would mean some people actually feel comfortable disclosing their income.

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I use a freelance Avid DS artist here in Dallas (which should be on par with an experienced online smoke artist) and he's $550 per 8 hour day. An AE person would be completely relative to how good they are, and what their capabilities are. If they can pull off Stardust kind of stuff with their own design sense I would expect to pay $600 - 800 a day. If they are just OK and are going to be a roto monkey or slap together some logos and some ending art card text (that I could do myself on my laptop if I wasn't being lazy) I would think far less.

 

But I couldn't tell you at all if that is typical of this industry. I know some of the "AE guys" at some of the post houses around here. Some days they fuck around, other days they are pushed to the limit. But I bet since they are on salary, their per day rate would be far less than 600 -800 a day. But just a guess.

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Graymachine... you are so patient with this topic... how do you do it? I've seen you answer it so well year after year. It makes me want to scream every time I see it. I'm going to start calling you St. Greymachine.

 

-m

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Graymachine... you are so patient with this topic... how do you do it? I've seen you answer it so well year after year. It makes me want to scream every time I see it. I'm going to start calling you St. Greymachine.

 

-m

 

stgray.jpg

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When I was working in Dallas I found that employers there, more than anywhere else I worked, loved using the supposedly lower cost of living as a negotiation chip. I fell for it with the first job I took because I was moving from Chicago and the sound of no state income tax and lower housing costs sounded reasonable enough. What I eventually learned was that at a certain point your skills are worth something regardless of where you live. The way I look at it now, it's none of my employers business where I want to live and how I want to spend what they pay me and a good artist's value is independent of location.

I guess what I'm trying to convey is don't let the "cost of living is so low" negotiating tactic catch you off guard. Prepare a good answer to that ahead of time.

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Personally I think it's just fine to have a topic like this come up periodically because it's information that changes all the time. You won't have a new way to animate the head of an arrow in 3d, you won't have a new answer for 'what do I do when I'm burned out.' But stuff like this, and where to live, and how much it costs, and which computer to buy, and which software is right for a job, that stuff benefits from the occasional new thread. The generalities of a salary don't change, but a nugget of new specific info might get brought to light.

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When I was working in Dallas I found that employers there, more than anywhere else I worked, loved using the supposedly lower cost of living as a negotiation chip. I fell for it with the first job I took because I was moving from Chicago and the sound of no state income tax and lower housing costs sounded reasonable enough. What I eventually learned was that at a certain point your skills are worth something regardless of where you live. The way I look at it now, it's none of my employers business where I want to live and how I want to spend what they pay me and a good artist's value is independent of location.

I guess what I'm trying to convey is don't let the "cost of living is so low" negotiating tactic catch you off guard. Prepare a good answer to that ahead of time.

 

 

I wholeheartedly agree with u. I think we've all been asked the question "what's the least amount of money you will work for?", I know I've faced that one a couple of times. The last time I got it my answer was (and this after it was clear that it was a dead end) "well, that depends, what's the lowest quality of work you will settle for?". The whole "cost of living" argument does have some value to it, but the way t is abused by some people is just idiotic, it's meant as a proportional adjustment, not as a negotiation tool.

 

Discussions like this one are important, because at the end of the day this is how we make a living, and while money may not be the motivating factor to get in this line of work, that's not to say it's irrelevant or unimportant.

 

As in any other business the laws of supply and demand will dictate how much our skills and talents are worth to other people in terms of money. Which is why I am surprised to see the reaction that questions like this gets in other forums. Judging by those answers you would think that the people that post them do this just for fun and don't have to worry about the $$$ of it. Anyways, once again, thanks for all the help.

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Not meaning to hijack the thread, but the discussion of cost-of-living vs. salary makes me think this is a good time to ask your opinions on this:

 

I live in a city with a much lower cost of living than NYC or L.A. (<gloat> I'm moving into a pimpin' 1500 sq. ft. apartment this weekend for dirt cheap :) </gloat>)

 

I'm a fulltime freelancer, most of the work I get is done remotely for companies in Chicago, NYC, or L.A. I know that my daily rate is probably quite a bit lower than you guys that live in those places, and my justification has always been that I'll work for them for the same price as when I work for local companies, since I never actually have to leave the city. I see it as my way of competing with you guys that can go work on-site, so do you consider it wrong of me to charge less based purely on my lower cost of living?

 

If I was to be flown out to one of those cities to work on-site, do you think I should THEN be charging the norm for that city, or continue charging the norm for where I live?

 

(I'm not asking because I intend to change my practices or anything, I'm just wondering where you guys stand on this since it's a different situation from St. Efan's ie. me cutting studios a deal if they don't mind me working from home. Just trying to stir up discussion)

 

 

edit: I should also make sure you guys realize I'm not out there charging $25/day or something dumb like that. It's still comparable to your rates (at least what I think your rates probably are), it's just less.

Edited by beau+++

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You're like Canadian outsourcing.

 

Hoping that was a joke. Like I said, it's not like I'm charging them HALF what I'd charge if I lived in L.A., more like 85-90% of what I could get in L.A.. If I charged the same as local L.A./NYC'ers why would they go with the guy that can't work on-site, right?

 

Am I looking at this the wrong way?

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Hoping that was a joke. Like I said, it's not like I'm charging them HALF what I'd charge if I lived in L.A., more like 85-90% of what I could get in L.A..

 

It was mostly a joke with only 10 - 15% truth :)

 

I dig what St. E was saying and I agree it should not be an excuse to rape you on wages. If moving to a city with a better cost of living is supposed to be a benefit, then what's the point if you get paid proportionally lower? The film transfer house I use down here brought in a colorist from RIOT and one from CO3 NYC and mentioned to them the better cost of living. HOWEVER I feel they still paid them the industry rate in which case that makes sense.

 

I don't see anything wrong what-so-ever in what you are doing. I'm somewhat in the same boat. I direct TV spots. I don't live in L.A. I'm going to lose jobs to guys in LA with equal or worse reels because the agency sees Texas on my company address. But that being said, I still work non-stop because I can shoot on par with many LA directors for cheaper and I can afford my own building despite it being based in a shithole of a city (Dallas). So there's the ups and the downs. I can either go to LA and have the benefit of agencies across the U.S. feel comfortable that I'm an "L.A. Director". But then my office will be one of the available pieces of shit in Venice or Santa Monica and I'll have to be fighting tooth and nail against some of the best commercial directors in the world for the attention of the LA based agencies who like to work with prod companies near by.

 

To me if you find a niche that works for you. Then so be it. Sounds like a fair deal all around. If your clients don't mind you FTP'ing work and not having the glory of saying "I'm using an LA guy" and can pay less then great.

 

Are you asking is that ethical to fuck a kid out of a job that moved to LA, and scrapes by in WestHo while you chill in a fat crib taking his job? Not me personally. If you've earned that job with your reel and offset their inconvenience a little with a proportional rate then fine. There will always be clients that pay top dollar for the top people. There will always be clients that pay dogshit for a Creative Cow member to do "Graphics with visual impact!". And every step in-between.

 

so be it.

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why don't you give yourself a raise and live even fatter in your new pad? If they like your work, I doubt they will get too upset about a 10% raise. Tell them its for rising costs of maple syrup (or whatever it is you Canadians live off of up there) ;)

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why don't you give yourself a raise and live even fatter in your new pad? If they like your work, I doubt they will get too upset about a 10% raise. Tell them its for rising costs of maple syrup (or whatever it is you Canadians live off of up there) ;)

 

meh, it's mostly because I'd rather have one rate that I charge everyone rather than one rate for Winnipeg, another one for Montreal, another for L.A. etc. People in each of those cities are charging very different rates, while mine may be a little lower than L.A standards, it's really high for Winnipeg standards. If I raised my rates, no local companies would hire me (they already think I'm charging too much, and I just heard about a 35 year old guy that's been doing this for 12 years, that "moved up" into a $30k job (MUCH less than what I'm charging) :o . Obviously there's local guys that are more than willing to be raped for a few measly bucks, so I'm not gonna raise my rate and push any clients into that dickhead's lap.)

 

 

I guess I'd just feel a little dickish telling someone "well, you live in Chicago, so I'm gonna charge you more" - even if they'd never know, I'd still have a guilty conscience. SO, same rate for everyone.

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fair enough. As a guy in LA, I think it is fine to charge whatever you are comfortable with. I believe in a free market, and you certainly know your situation better than I.

 

If I were you, I wouldn't worry about it for a second. Just do your thing, and enjoy that National Healthcare.

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Just do your thing, and enjoy that National Healthcare.

 

ugh, healthcare. Not knocking Canada's system at all, but I haven't needed a doctor in years even though lots of my tax money is going towards their salaries. I'm *this* close to purposely breaking my arm just so I can finally see what everyone loves so much about our system ;)

 

 

NOTE: I BETTER NOT SEE ANYONE START ARGUING ABOUT CANADIAN HEALTHCARE vs. AMERICAN HEALTHCARE IN THIS THREAD, OR THEY'LL HAVE TO RAISE TAXES TO PAY FOR THE TEAM OF DOCTORS IT WILL TAKE TO STOP ME FROM VOMITING.

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Ooh now you gone and done it. A healthy young guy expects he'd be using average amount of a healthcare system where the national averages are older and less fit? I bet you wish you could sit in the old people seats on the bus. :D

 

(I am absolutely only kidding, but I do think you're missing about 95% of the story because of what's known as solipsism, which is today's ten buck word of the day, and yeah I've studied this stuff.)

 

Anyway hey man, it's what the market will bear and how you make yourself known in the market. I can give you some perspective because I'm in a first-time position of employing a bunch of people precisely in your situation. I have four to six guys, and I'll pick out two as examples. One is a low-charging guy who's awesome and who lives in a cheap small town. The second is a high-charging guy who's equally amazing but who also lives in a cheap small town. Both guys take instruction well, don't complain, deliver on time and deliver work that makes me and my client say things like this in iChat:

 

20080530-nhg4bpqertyjb8d4gkb886ww54.jpg

Meritocracy unabridged.

 

What's the second guy's secret? He knows what to charge, he has more charisma, and he's more well-known in the community.

 

Going to guys outside of of LA becomes necessary when there are precious few people around who have the exact skills I needed. It's much more about skills than about getting less expensive people, because it costs double and kills my time when I have to redo stuff, which happens all the time. For about 80% of people hiring, the lower cost is only a side benefit, because our skills are so specific. For me being local or long distance isn't an issue in a world with iChat, Skype, phone, PayPal and FTP. So the lesson is, when you're in an unusual place, make yourself good, make yourself easy to work with, and then as an extra step make yourself prominent. Then you reap the benefits on both ends--higher income and lower rent.

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Pfft... forget Canada. I know people who oursource talent in India. Animations coming from India is cheap,

 

I've delt w/ animation studios in India and I have a collegue who outsources an indian mograph/compositor for his animation work. I wouldn't work for how little he charges and that money is a fortune in India. It makes me think about almost moving to India... then I remember about our free health care here in Canada.

Edited by pamunoz

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