Presentation Guild Releases its First Presentation Industry Benchmark Salary Survey Report

By Tony Ramos, Director, Presentation Guild


As you recently read here in the PresentationXpert October and November newsletters, the Presentation Guild is now a part of the scene. And this week, a first-of-its-kind salary survey report makes its debut.

A bit of background, in case you missed it. The Presentation Guild is the new nonprofit trade association for folks like us. I’m Tony Ramos, one of the Guild’s twelve directors, and a presentation designer since 1993. Guild members are more often found behind the stage rather than behind the podium. We carry titles like presentation designer or small business owner or (perhaps begrudgingly) the slide person.

We officially launched the Guild in October 2016 during the Presentation Summit after nearly two years of planning and preparation. The board combined its strengths as professional presenters, presentation designers, trainers, authors, and software experts to connect people like you, elevate our field, and improve the world’s presentations. No small task. To this end, we’re offering traditional association benefits like education, networking, and communications. We’ve created live webinars, webcasts, social media, forums, newsletters, and online classes. Future projects are underway, including publishing industry standards based on board and member input, professional skills certifications, software discounts, job postings, portfolio showcases, and other ideas. Maybe it’s that one idea you’ve wanted to bring to life but had no network to activate. (All the presentation entrepreneurs and innovators reading this? You’re welcome.)


Presentation Guild at Presentation Summit, October 2016

For now, achieving the right mix of community, training, and support is our daily goal. Long term, we want to help set the presentation professional in the public spotlight as an essential industry position. It follows that we need to see what that position looks like today. Time for a survey!

Salary Survey Released

In August and September 2016, the Presentation Guild conducted a first-of-its-kind salary survey. It consisted of 18 questions designed to benchmark the compensation characteristics of the average presentationist (an individual who works in the presentation industry). We received 133 responses to our email and social media invitations to US-based presentationists. Our resulting analysis is a 26-page report available as a PDF.

Key Highlights
  • We are most likely to be between 45–64 years old
  • We are 1.4 times more likely to be female than male
  • Three-fourths of us have a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • We are 4.6 times more likely to work in New York or California than any other state
  • We are 1.5 times more likely to work in-house for a corporation than other work environments
  • We have an average of 15 years’ experience
  • Average annual salary range? See page 16 of your copy of the report
Data Worth Highlighting
What is your job title?

One item that’s always piqued my curiosity is job title. For a decade, I supported a department of dozens of people, and they had almost as many names and descriptions for me: PowerPoint specialist, presentation guru, graphics guy, slide jockey.

The good news is that our professional field is still new enough that the world has not yet settled on a label to categorize us. Eighteen job titlepercent of respondents go by Presentation Designer. Nine percent are called Graphic Designer. But 39% go by titles which were not among the options offered by name in our survey. What does this mean? I think (and hope) it means we still have the latitude to define ourselves in words and aim it toward the future. I’m not saying you should suggest your boss promote you to Vice President of Words and Images, but keep in mind that Guy Kawasaki invented his own title and role (Chief Evangelist) at Apple way back when.

More realistically, however, the question of job title can get complicated. Add the survey finding that, for the majority of us, presentation work is considered an adjunct responsibility and is not considered our primary job even though a majority of our work hours are spent on presentations. To be working on a variety of tasks which are not 100% presentations may be ideal for you, or maybe not so much.

If you’re your own boss (and another survey page shows that a good many of us are), your options are even greater. President or CEO or consultant are easily understood and useful in a business context. Yet I would not downplay the potential conversations you could initiate by calling yourself PowerPoint Wizard or Digital Storyteller or even Presentationist. It has worked for me.

What is the highest level of education you have completed?

Smart set, we are. Three-fourths of us have a bachelor’s degree or higher. What this means depends on your situation.
Let’s say you’re self-employed, either as a solo practitioner or head of a small design studio. Your advancement is not tied to your level college eof formal education as much as it would be in a large organization, generally speaking. You’re more likely interested in highly specialized training that can be put to immediate and specific use, such as learning VBA coding.

If you’re an employee at a big company, though, you might read this survey with different purpose and urgency. That purpose may be to demonstrate that you might be fairly paid or underpaid commensurate with your education level. (If you are overpaid, well, I might direct you to the lovely Shopping page of our website.)

Either way, the majority of presentation professionals lack formal training in areas of presentation expertise. We clearly need more specialized training opportunities.


As a first-time survey, this was a rewarding endeavor for us at the Presentation Guild. We learned much about you, about the landscape we are in, and what is left to do. The last page features eleven points which plot out objectives we are embracing based on survey results. They include:

  • Establish clear and recognizable job titles
  • Develop and/or promote specialized training with CEU recognition
  • Develop a certification program
  • Encourage the inclusion of presentation design and presenting in college curricula
  • Promote the presentation industry
  • Survey those who hire presentationists so we can arrive at the table better armed, better trained, and ready to deliver a better value
Want a copy of the survey? Click here

Recognized and approved as a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization, the Presentation Guild welcomes all to join, regardless of experience or location.

About Tony Ramos

Square of 9261 smallTony Ramos is a founding director of the Presentation Guild. He has been using presentation software since 1993, when he started making terribly wordy slides for the world’s largest management consulting firm for nearly a decade.

Since then, he’s learned a bit about the art and science of it all. He began writing about what he and others were doing with presentation software. That now-defunct blog earned him four consecutive years of Microsoft’s MVP Award for PowerPoint.

Today, Tony tweets as The Presentationist (@tonyramos), volunteers time and labor for the Presentation Guild, and earns a living using PPT, Photoshop, and Illustrator for Fortune 500 clients, government agencies, and neighborhood garage sales. If you see him outside running with the dogs or biking with traffic, please honk and wave hi.

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