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Commission Structure & Salary for Magazine Ad Sales

If you are interested in a career in magazine advertisement sales, it is important to understand the various salary and commission structures that may be offered to you by an organization. Typically, a sales position in the advertising department will be heavily reliant on commission, or a percentage of the total sales that you make in a given period. To ensure that you are properly compensated for your time and efforts, you should understand how a typical magazine ad salesperson is paid.


The base salary and commission structure that you are given at a magazine will typically depend on your past experience and sales figures. Those in an entry-level position will typically start by earning a modest base salary plus 5 percent commission on all sales, while a seasoned veteran can command anywhere as high as 15 percent of a sale in addition to the base salary figure.

Prestige of Magazine

The amount of base salary and commission you can expect also depends on the prestige and circulation of the magazine you work for. For example, a small local magazine that is only circulated within a town or county will have less money available for commissions, while a large magazine that is circulated throughout the country and possibly even other parts of the world will have more resources to pay you more for your efforts.

Base Salary Expectations

Some magazines will offer a base salary along with commission, while others will not. Typically, nationally circulated magazines will offer both a base salary and commission, while smaller publications may not, especially to entry-level salespeople. Base salaries will differ depending on the organization, but the majority of your earnings will still come from commissions.

According to the 2011 FOLIO: Advertising Sales Salary Survey, the average total compensation for male magazine ad salespeople was $93,000, with a base salary of around $61,000; their female counterparts, on the other hand, earned a total compensation of $80,000, with an average of $48,400 as a base salary. Commission varied more according to the individual, but males reported that approximately 27 percent of their total salary consisted of money earned through commissions, while females reported that approximately 36 percent of their total salary was commission-based.

Commission Expectations

As mentioned, the amount of commission offered will vary depending on experience and sales results, and can range anywhere from 5 to 15 percent for most publications. Commission can increase for two reasons: if you prove that you are consistently exceeding sales goals, and once you acquire significant experience in sales.


Mike Vitanza is a professional writer for news agencies and other sources. He has worked for a number of different news outlets and publications, including Brafton News Agency. Vitanza is a graduate of Providence College with a bachelor's degree in business studies and has expertise in finance, money, business and technology.