Account executive salary figures can fluctuate somewhat based upon the individual’s level of education, location and even expertise. While some account executives are paid hourly, others rely on commissions from sales to truly make a living.

National Average

The amount of money an account executive can earn depends upon the industry in which he or she works. For example, the median salary earned by individuals in the advertising sector is $45,350 per year. Conversely, individuals who work for insurance companies earn an average of $46,770 per year. Those working in the wholesale and manufacturing industry may earn an average of $56,620 annually. Finally, an account executive working in the financial sector may earn an average of $70,190 per year. In general, the more difficult it is to manage the clients’ accounts, the higher the potential salary can climb.

Salary by Location

Across all industries, the highest salaries for account executives are being earned in larger cities on either coast. According to, the salaries for individuals working in New York, NY and San Francisco, CA are equal at around $85,000 per year. However, individuals working in Indianapolis, IN only earned $54,000 per year. In general, those who work in the Midwest tend to earn the least with the exception of Chicago, where account executives earn about $80,000 per year. Those who are expected to travel or who work for large international firms are likely to earn much more; senior executives in these positions can earn more than $100,000 per year.

Amount of Experience and Education

Due to rising competition in the field, most companies that are hiring account executives require at least a Bachelor’s degree in a business-related field. Entry level positions provide the least pay; executives who have several years’ experience earn the highest pay. Some companies may utilize senior and junior account executives, as well. The senior executives may earn upward of $90,000 per year as they have additional responsibilities, such as assigning clients and researching product distribution. Junior executives typically earn around $30,000 to $35,000 annually, but this climbs rapidly as the individual gains experience.

Other Contributing Factors

One of the most important factors contributing to an account executive’s salary is commission. Although some may earn commission based upon the value of the sales they close, others earn tiered bonuses based upon the total amount of their sales over a specified amount of time. Bonuses are also possible, and although many employers provide bonuses on the individual level, some require an entire team—or sometimes even an entire agency—to meet their goals for the month, the quarter, or even the year before a bonus is earned. In fact, some individuals’ salaries are comprised of nothing but commission and bonuses; there is no hourly or weekly pay rate.
In order to make the most money as an account executive, it is important to consider relocating to a larger city, gaining plenty of sales experience and even honing sales skills to earn a larger commission. Aiming for a senior executive position is a great way to enjoy a steady increase in income, as well.