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  • Salary Quote for Full-Time Retouching Position?

    Hi, all,

    I'm about to be offered a full-time retouching position at an image agency that deals with high-end, fashiony celebrity portraits. The position isn't locked away, but the first interview went well and they would "love to bring me on," pending my meeting next week with a few of the bigwig bosses.

    I'd love to be able to go into this final interview knowing precisely what sort of salary I should be expecting.

    I know a lot of you are subsisting on freelance work (and I've done some myself), but I don't think simply extrapolating my freelance rates would be appropriate for this, considering it has much greater stability/benefits (and probably boredom). If only I could get my freelance rate for 35 hours per week!

    Other information: I'm young, 23, so I bet they will try to pin me as "entry-level." I'm both a little hesitant to demand too much and to simply accept whatever they offer, but I'm also worried that I am going to be shortchanged on account of my age. The "entry-level" designation might just be an excuse to pay me less. I would be, however, replacing their current retoucher who is probably in her 40's, so I imagine there is a possibility I might get an offer similar to whatever they are paying her.

    Any advice/benchmarks you have would be infinitely helpful to me. Thanks very much in advance.

    Gabriel

  • #2
    Originally posted by gdillon
    Hi, all,

    I'm about to be offered a full-time retouching position at an image agency that deals with high-end, fashiony celebrity portraits. The position isn't locked away, but the first interview went well and they would "love to bring me on," pending my meeting next week with a few of the bigwig bosses.

    I'd love to be able to go into this final interview knowing precisely what sort of salary I should be expecting.

    I know a lot of you are subsisting on freelance work (and I've done some myself), but I don't think simply extrapolating my freelance rates would be appropriate for this, considering it has much greater stability/benefits (and probably boredom). If only I could get my freelance rate for 35 hours per week!

    Other information: I'm young, 23, so I bet they will try to pin me as "entry-level." I'm both a little hesitant to demand too much and to simply accept whatever they offer, but I'm also worried that I am going to be shortchanged on account of my age. The "entry-level" designation might just be an excuse to pay me less. I would be, however, replacing their current retoucher who is probably in her 40's, so I imagine there is a possibility I might get an offer similar to whatever they are paying her.

    Any advice/benchmarks you have would be infinitely helpful to me. Thanks very much in advance.

    Gabriel
    Age isn't as much a problem with computer related jobs as it can be with some other types of employment. Knowing what you are doing is much more important.

    What part of the country are we talking? That makes a large difference in salaries. How large a company? Also makes a difference.

    How long have you been doing retouch work? See above.

    What other benefits are they offering? That factors into a salary negotiation. Are you going to be salaried or hourly etc.

    - Noel

    Comment


    • #3
      Noel,

      The job we're talking about is in New York City, kinda a mecca of pre-production jobs.

      The company is very small, maybe 7-10 people? It is, however, in the same office space as a couple of other companies in the same industry, all under the same umbrella organization. Each of the companies specialize in a different part of the market; the position I'm going for is being offered by the most "high-end" of the companies. High-fashion, fancy glamorous type images. I've done some research on the company -- it's well-known in its space.

      I've been in retouching independently for about 2 years. My work is quite good, but I recognize that there are people out there with significantly more experience and significantly more talent. The nice thing here -- in my first interview, the company administered a Photoshop "test," which involved me retouching an image for about twenty minutes. They thought my work was "very good" and are basing their interest in me for this position entirely on this work. (It was actually very frustrating, the entire interview was this test, very little actual talking.) Consequently, I believe I've already proven to them that the work I can do is competent and high quality, worthy of a professional salary.

      I don't know what other benefits they will offer -- they haven't made me an offer, yet. Due to the size of the company, I don't expect amazing benefits, but I expect basic healthcare, etc. I expect the job to be paid on salary and not hourly.

      Hope this information makes things a little clearer. Thanks very much for your response!

      ~g

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by gdillon
        Noel,

        The job we're talking about is in New York City, kinda a mecca of pre-production jobs.

        The company is very small, maybe 7-10 people? It is, however, in the same office space as a couple of other companies in the same industry, all under the same umbrella organization. Each of the companies specialize in a different part of the market; the position I'm going for is being offered by the most "high-end" of the companies. High-fashion, fancy glamorous type images. I've done some research on the company -- it's well-known in its space.

        I've been in retouching independently for about 2 years. My work is quite good, but I recognize that there are people out there with significantly more experience and significantly more talent. The nice thing here -- in my first interview, the company administered a Photoshop "test," which involved me retouching an image for about twenty minutes. They thought my work was "very good" and are basing their interest in me for this position entirely on this work. (It was actually very frustrating, the entire interview was this test, very little actual talking.) Consequently, I believe I've already proven to them that the work I can do is competent and high quality, worthy of a professional salary.

        I don't know what other benefits they will offer -- they haven't made me an offer, yet. Due to the size of the company, I don't expect amazing benefits, but I expect basic healthcare, etc. I expect the job to be paid on salary and not hourly.

        Hope this information makes things a little clearer. Thanks very much for your response!

        ~g
        I went to Monster.com to see if there were any jobs similiar to what you were talking about, and found these:

        Advertising – Positions available for Macintosh Production Artists and
        Hi-end Digital Photo Retouchers

        Desktop Publishing Artist - Macintosh Production Artists $40-50K+
        Advertising experience – healthcare or pharmaceutical related is a big plus. Ads, collateral, etc. MAC applications - Quark, Illustrator, Photoshop, etc. Day shift. Work closely with Art Directors and provide creative input. Excellent opportunity to grow into art direction. Top benefits.

        Digital Photo Retoucher - $75-85K
        Hi-end retouching experience. Service Bureau or advertising agency background. Must be a Photoshop wizard with an eagle eye for color correction, and must have experience with Adobe Illustrator. Work on upscale ads, collateral, etc. Provide creative input and work closely with Art Directors and Production department. Full time staff position, great benefits.

        So using those as a base, for New York city rates, I would say 40-50k wouldn't be a bad start if they are happy with your work. If they are not offering much in the way of benefits, maybe look for a little more.

        Definitely sounds like a wonderful position! I am impressed that they actually did a test of your abilities. Most companies don't go that extra length during an interview

        Good luck with it all!

        - Noel

        Comment


        • #5
          This sounds like a pretty big company. That's good! And that's bad! I think you would be wise to consider your possible employment from their perspective too. Realize that the only reason they might want to hire you is if they think you can make money for them. The people who make the decisions will be asking themselves "How good is this guy? How much production can we expect from him? This guy's young -- will he be reliable, or will he be a party boy?" They're going to want someone who is on time for work every day, and actually *be* at work every day. They won't be happy if you come to work with a hangover, or little sleep. If you want a better chance of getting top dollar, bring up these points yourself, before they do. It might also be good if you tell them (again before they ask you) that you'll be willing to take periodic drug tests. Think of anything you can that they might be concerned with, and get that part out of the way. You do have reliable transportation, right? Good luck.

          Ed

          Comment


          • #6
            Noel,

            Yes, I found those numbers too. Those companies sound a bit more involved, probably advertising related -- I wonder if rates like that apply to this? I think the Photoshop might be a bit less involved than advertising work. It does have a bit more glamour than ad work, though... Often, I think, glamour does not translate into cash.

            Ed,

            Wow, I think we have entirely different takes on what the challenges confronting young twentysomethings in today's job market are. I wholly agree about their perspective being "How much money can this guy make for us," but the final three quarters of your response are about how I need to prove to them that I won't come in hungover or stoned. Certainly, these things are factors when considering a candidate. And, certainly, the young twentysomethings I know have a lot more professional grace than to ever make these issues relevant to their professional lives.

            I believe I have proven my reliability through my educational and past professional experience. I believe demonstrating these things with hard-won achievements, such as repeat freelance assignments, is significantly more pertinent to my capacity as an employee than, say, my willingness to take periodic drug tests. With all due respect (and much respect is due), I am a little bit taken aback by the insinuation that the biggest consideration in employing a young person is whether or not he is a "party boy." It reminds me why the generational gap is filled with mutual antagonism and defensiveness -- there are lots of assumptions filling the space between the young and the old, coming from both sides of the divide.

            But, regardless, you have struck at the crux of the matter: exactly how reliable is the NYC subway system??? Not very!

            Best regards,

            ~g

            Comment


            • #7
              One thing you have to consider is that I'm coming from years of experience. I've worked for big companies, and I've owned a small business. I wasn't suggesting that *you* have any problem at all. Only that the type of things I mentioned are very real considerations for any company, big or small. The old saying "a good man is hard to find" very well might be more true now than it was when the phrase was coined. Drug use and partying are huge when it comes to the bottom line of employers. As an example, I owned a business in home remodeling. We did roofing, siding, windows, additions, etc. I had an employee who could do everything I could do, and some things, better than yours truly. *When* he came to work, he did a good job, and we both made money. But the poor guy had a problem with drinking and drugs. After trying for some time to help him straighten out, I finally had to fire him. This guy was a very likeable guy, and I hated to do that because I liked him and he did good work. I'm sure there are quite a few others on this site who have, or have had, employees. It is very likely that they will *all* support what I'm telling you. This problem is not specific to any one type of work. There are millions of "Joes" out there. At your age, I'm pretty certain you know plenty of people who fit the category, even though you might not associate with them.

              Ed

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Ed_L
                One thing you have to consider is that I'm coming from years of experience. I've worked for big companies, and I've owned a small business. I wasn't suggesting that *you* have any problem at all. Only that the type of things I mentioned are very real considerations for any company, big or small. The old saying "a good man is hard to find" very well might be more true now than it was when the phrase was coined. Drug use and partying are huge when it comes to the bottom line of employers. As an example, I owned a business in home remodeling. We did roofing, siding, windows, additions, etc. I had an employee who could do everything I could do, and some things, better than yours truly. *When* he came to work, he did a good job, and we both made money. But the poor guy had a problem with drinking and drugs. After trying for some time to help him straighten out, I finally had to fire him. This guy was a very likeable guy, and I hated to do that because I liked him and he did good work. I'm sure there are quite a few others on this site who have, or have had, employees. It is very likely that they will *all* support what I'm telling you. This problem is not specific to any one type of work. There are millions of "Joes" out there. At your age, I'm pretty certain you know plenty of people who fit the category, even though you might not associate with them.

                Ed
                Ed,

                Sure, you do have loads more experience than I do. I'm listening avidly to what you and everybody else have to say about this issue because I'm in such an obviously inexperienced position. And, I wholly agree with you -- having a healthy, responsible employee is fundamental to good hiring practices and essential if anybody wants to be hired and retain a job.

                I'm still incredulous that drinking and drugs are, in your estimation, such salient issues in the hiring process.

                I'm a bit hyperactive about online research (as evidenced by my posting this thread) and have spent **hours** reading about interviewing techniques, salary negotiations and hiring practices. I don't offer this research in lieu of your hard-won experience, but -- I have never, ever, not once read anything about pre-empting the drinking/drugs issue in an interview. I think it would be a huge mistake.

                As it is, if I were asked in an interview about my drug/drinking habits, I would probably reply that it is within their bounds to administer a drug test, but that my personal habits have no relation to my ability to meet the expectations of the company. I'd also assure them that I was responsible, as demonstrated by X and X reasons, with X being my freelance trackrecord and academic achievements.

                <shrug> I guess we've got different opinions. But, as it is, I've got to run upstairs to visit my current boss, so I don't lose this job one day before my employment is over.

                Best,

                ~g

                Comment


                • #9
                  Regarding the pay rate. My guess is that this company has a payroll budget and that position most likely has a predefined pay rate. I'm also going to guess that it is on the lower end of the scale. The reason I say that is because they are considering someone who is fairly young, without years of experience. Someone with years of experience, and an impressive resume, would probably demand a much higher rate than their budget would allow.
                  Regarding work ethics:
                  Until recently, I've been working as a retoucher at a portrait studio (the company is shutting down). Aside from your retouching skills, here are a few things that are considered important to that position:
                  complete jobs in a timely manner.
                  ability to prioritize work and tasks.
                  apply the correct solutions to given problems.
                  work well with coworkers and other service individuals.
                  work independently
                  be dependable

                  Actually, these qualities apply to just about every job I've ever had.

                  Please let us know how this turns out!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If I were interviewing someone who suddenly mentioned being willing to take periodic drug tests without being asked, I would be fairly freaked - my reaction would be much more "Whoa! What kind of a working environment is this guy used to?" than "My goodness, what a clean living and responsible individual". Much the same if they started telling me how they never came to work drunk or hungover.

                    I agree with you that those jobs from Monster look like they are for people with either a different skill set (more creative/illustration based) or more experience than you.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Leah
                      If I were interviewing someone who suddenly mentioned being willing to take periodic drug tests without being asked, I would be fairly freaked - my reaction would be much more "Whoa! What kind of a working environment is this guy used to?" than "My goodness, what a clean living and responsible individual". Much the same if they started telling me how they never came to work drunk or hungover.

                      I agree with you that those jobs from Monster look like they are for people with either a different skill set (more creative/illustration based) or more experience than you.
                      I have to agree. As an employeer if one of my prospectives told me I could drug test them at anytime I would be a little concerned

                      Let them do the asking, you don't want to look like you are hiding something by being so upfront (sounds weird, but true).

                      As for the salary, I agree those jobs are exactly what you are talking about, but in New York city, doing professional computer work of any kind I would expect 35-40k starting salary personally.

                      - Noel

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        i have to chime in here, too. as a person who has done my own share of "experimentation" in my early 20s, and who years later has had a bit of hiring experience, i'd be very suspect of an interviewee who suddenly brought up the issue of partying, drug testing, etc. My knee-jerk reaction would be to think perhaps this person has a drug problem or has had bad work experiences in the past. I think your best bet is to show yourself to be a responsible, reliable, and qualified candidate in the way your present yourself and by demonstrating previous successes, etc.

                        good luck!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Got an informal offer...

                          All,

                          Thanks so much for all your advice and information. Really useful to me.

                          I spoke with my laison at the company today to schedule another interview -- with the two presidents of the company, the head of HR and the head of their techology group. Since I only saw six people when I visited there on Monday, I assume these are the bigwigs from the parent company. Regardless, looking forward to the interview; it's scheduled on Monday and I will give you all a status update then.

                          But, for the time being, something to mull over -- the lady said, "At this point, we're thinking of offering you 33k." I told her that I would think about that and discuss it with the people on Monday.

                          According to all I've read and all of your advice (and the advice I've gathered on a few other forums), this is in line with the idea that this position is not the creative/design type position mentioned above, like we thought. It also seems a bit low compared to some of the other numbers I've heard.

                          Now, I am young and I've never had this type of position before...but, I've got a rocking education and excellent work experience for somebody of my age. Even more importantly, I've shown them what I can do and they were, as she said today, "very impressed with your effeciency and ability." I think I've got a good bargaining position here.

                          Do you think this is a bit low for this type of job? Any suggestions on how I should go about the negotiation? I guess I'm looking for specific things that might work, or have worked for you in the past. I've got the general idea from my reading on the job board/salary information sites.

                          I appreciate your help very much!

                          Best regards,

                          ~gabriel

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Well, 33k does seem to be on the low end.
                            If I were in your shoes, I'd probably be thinking along these lines:

                            First of all, can you afford to accept that salary.
                            What are your chances of getting a job somewhere else, doing the same thing, for more money?
                            What benefits are included? A great benefits package can offset a lower salary. What about vacations, holidays, 401k's, and health insurance? Flexible work schedule?
                            If the salary starts at 33k, at what rate will the salary increase? Is it possible to negotiate an automatic increase after a specific period of time?
                            What will be the scope of your position (seems more and more employers are overloading one employee with the work of three).

                            Back to what I said earlier...regardless of your education and experience, if they have a fixed budget, they will find someone else to fill the position if you are not available for the price they offer. They may really want you, but not be in a position to offer you more money. However, if this is the case, it may give you some leverage when discussing perks.
                            Vikki

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Vikki
                              ...What will be the scope of your position (seems more and more employers are overloading one employee with the work of three)....

                              ...tell me about it!

                              33k sounds very low for New York City, but it might be worth it if the job can become a springboard for bigger and better things down the road. It certainly sounds like you would be making some good contacts in the industry...but if it was me, I'd ask for about 37-40k and then see if they meet you halfway.

                              Comment

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