JCK’s Annual Salary Survey Industry Pay Jumped in 2006

On average, median salaries in retail jewelry stores grew 16.1 percent in 2005 over 2004’s figures.

That’s very good news—it’s much higher than the typical American’s raise. Wachovia Economics Group’s July 2006 monthly retail sales report says American wages and salaries posted an increase of 6.8 percent from June 2005 to June 2006, and its August report says they grew 8.3 percent from July 2005 to July 2006. Meanwhile, rank-and-file raises in many public corporations— excluding incentive-based bonuses—often hover around 3 percent to 4 percent annually.

The not-so-good news is that median salaries in the jewelry industry are still relatively low compared with similar jobs in other industries. For example, the median base pay for a buyer, according to JCK‘s 2006 Annual Salary Survey, is $34,500. According to the Salary Wizard on Salary.com, in the Chicago area the median pay for a retail or wholesale buyer, level III (bachelor’s degree and five to eight years’ experience in the field or related area) is $68,551. The 25th percentile of salary for that position in that area is $60,447, while the 75th percentile pays almost $78,000 for the same position. (Chicago was selected as a basis for comparison because it’s neither as costly as the coasts nor as inexpensive as outlying rural areas or smaller cities.)

A bookkeeper (associate’s degree) in Chicago, according to Salary.com, can expect to earn a median $37,900, while an accountant III position (bachelor’s degree plus four to six years’ experience) can expect to earn a median of $63,577. JCK‘s salary survey says the median base pay for an accountant/bookkeeper (category is combined; education level is not clarified) is $50,000 for men, but women earn only $30,000—or 60 percent less.

This figure highlights another piece of discouraging news—though not necessarily unique to the jewelry industry—that the salary gap between men and women holding the same job title is still significant. According to JCK‘s latest Salary Survey report, women owner/president/CEOs, for example, earn only 84 percent of what their male counterparts do.

A retail sales associate (high school diploma, little or no prior experience) in Chicago can expect to earn a median $26,844 in base pay. A department retail sales manager can expect to earn a median $33,752 in base pay or $35,359 with bonuses, and a bench jeweler, according to Salary.com, can expect to earn a median $35,876 in base pay, or $36,599 with bonus and all compensation added in. A bench jeweler, according to JCK‘s Salary Survey, can expect to earn a median $41,000 (with bonuses) if he’s male; women can expect to earn a median $31,000 with bonuses. General salespeople, according to JCK‘s survey, can expect a median of $40,000 (men, with bonuses) and $32,000 (women, with bonuses).

At the same time, an advertising account executive can expect to earn a median $90,436 with bonuses in Chicago; an e-commerce sales manager can expect a median $101,444 with bonuses, and an account executive selling home-care products can expect a median $55,800 with bonuses.

Despite economists’ pessimistic expectations, Wachovia’s report says Americans’ spending has remained strong, although the pace of growth slowed somewhat in August over July. The labor market has improved, and consumers’ take-home pay is substantially higher than last year’s, making them feel flush even though higher prices mean their real income hasn’t expanded accordingly. Forecasters tend to underestimate just how far consumers are willing to go to maintain their spending habits, although the moderation in sales growth indicates they may be feeling less flush now that the housing market is slowing down.

The jewelry industry faces continued pressure for share-of-wallet from other categories of consumer goods and services. While the strong increase in industry wages is very good news, the pay scale is still unlikely to lure top talent from better-paying fields. Jewelers who want to recruit employees from other jewelers, other retailers, or restaurants should have no trouble. Jewelers who want to recruit from higher-level sales positions, such as advertising, high-tech, or manufacturing/equipment, may still find they’re just not competitive enough.

2005 Annual Compensation (All Stores)

JOB TITLE MEDIAN BASE MEDIAN TOTAL RANGE (TOTAL)
Owner, Pres., CEO (men) $73,000 $95,000 $25,000–$1,000,000
Owner, Pres., CEO (women) $64,000 $80,000 $20,000–$250,000
Vice president (men) $69,200 $92,300 $37,440–$180,000
Vice president (women) $35,000 $50,000 $10,000–$500,000
Manager (men) $48,675 $60,000 $25,000–$102,830
Manager (women) $44,000 $56,000 $19,000–$250,000
Assistant manager (men) $39,000 $46,000 $30,000–$94,000
Assistant manager (women) $25,000 $37,300 $26,250–$60,000
Buyer (men) * * *
Buyer (women) $34,550 $39,500 $30,000–$66,600
Gemologist/sales (men) $37,900 $48,000 $32,280–$68,000
Gemologist/sales (women) $33,600 $35,750 $25,000–$350,000
Benchworker (men) $40,000 $41,000 $22,570–$138,000
Benchworker (women) $30,000 $31,000 $24,000–$80,000
General sales (men) $34,000 $40,000 $18,500–$150,000
General sales (women) $26,500 $32,000 $15,300–$150,000
Watch repair (men) $38,720 $38,720 $24,280–$60,000
Watch repair (women) * * *
Bookkeeper/accountant (men) $50,000 $55,000 $35,680–$100,000
Bookkeeper/accountant (women) $35,000 $35,000 $15,600–$70,665
Office staff (men) $35,000 $35,000 $21,620–$59,150
Office staff (women) $30,000 $31,000 $12,500–$50000
All figures from JCK‘s Annual Salary Survey, unless otherwise noted.
*Sample size yielded insignificant figures.
JOB TITLE MEDIAN BASE MEDIAN TOTAL RANGE (TOTAL)
Owner, Pres., CEO $70,000 $85,000 $20,000–$1,000,000
Vice president $60,000 $70,000 $10,000–$500,000
Manager $45,500 $55,500 $19,000–$250,000
Assistant manager $32,150 $41,000 $26,250–$94,000
Buyer $40,000 $40,000 $30,000–$150,000
Gemologist/sales $35,000 $37,500 $25,000–$350,000
Benchworker $37,000 $40,000 $22,570–$138,000
General sales $29,120 $34,800 $15,300–$150,000
Watch repair $38,720 $38,720 $24,280–$60,000
Bookkeeper/accountant $35,690 $37,850 $15,600–$100,000
Office staff $30,000 $31,000 $12,500–$59,150

2005 Salaries (All Stores) by Sales Volume

JOB TITLE MEDIAN BASE MEDIAN COMMISSION RANGE (TOTAL)
$300,000–$699,999
Owner, Pres., CEO $36,000 $4,600 $25,000–$100,000
Vice president * * *
Manager $39,250 * $19,000–$50,000
Assistant manager * * *
Buyer * * *
Gemologist/sales * * *
Benchworker * * *
General sales $26,000 * $17,850–$37,195
Watch repair * * *
Bookkeeper/accountant * * *
Office staff * * *
$700,000–$999,999
Owner, Pres., CEO $50,000 $40,000 $20,000–$200,000
Vice president * * *
Manager $34,200 $5,000 $25,000–$48,000
Assistant manager * * *
Buyer * * *
Gemologist/sales * * *
Benchworker $35,000 $5,000 $25,000–$66,000
General sales $27,040 $6,100 $16,640–$46,000
Watch repair * * *
Bookkeeper/accountant * * *
Office staff * * *
$1 Million–$2,499,999
Owner, Pres., CEO $65,000 $13,500 $25,000–$280,000
Vice president $52,250 $6,500 $18,230–$139,000
Manager $48,365 $4,000 $24,000–$90,600
Assistant manager $40,000 * $34,500–$94,000
Buyer * * *
Gemologist/sales $35,000 $1,410 $25,660–$350,000
Benchworker $34,160 $2,000 $23,380–$92,000
General Sales $27,040 $2,500 $15,000–$111,200
Watch repair $30,000 * $24,280–$44,200
Bookkeeper/accountant $34,100 * $15,600–$49,000
Office staff $26,130 $1,800 $14,250–$44,090
$2.5 Million or More
Owner, Pres., CEO $175,000 $50,000 $64,000–$1,000,000
Vice president $100,000 $10,000 $50,000–$500,000
Manager $48,000 $15,000 $38,000–$250,000
Assistant manager $30,000 $5,000 $30,000–$70,000
Buyer $40,000 $5,065 $30,000–$150,000
Gemologist/sales $40,250 * $33,000–$68,000
Benchworker $40,000 $6,000 $29,100–$138,000
General sales $30,000 $11,000 $19,480–$150,000
Watch repair * * *
Bookkeeper/accountant $38,750 $5,000 $26,000–$100,000
Office staff $30,920 $2,990 $16,500–$59,150
*Sample size yielded insignificant figures.

2005 Commissions and Bonuses (All Stores)

JOB TITLE MEDIAN COMMISSION RANGE (TOTAL)
Owner, Pres., CEO (men) $22,500 $1,200–$250,000
Owner, Pres., CEO (women) $36,000 $3,000–$250,000
Vice president (men) $9,970 $4,300–$50,000
Vice president (women) $8,250 $3,000–$111,000
Manager (men) $13,600 $1,250–$61,000
Manager (women) $10,000 $1,000–$51,680
Assistant manager (men) $6,000 $5,000–$50,000
Assistant manager (women) $5,000 $1,250–$37,000
Buyer (men) * *
Buyer (women) $6,500 $5,000–$14,600
Gemologist/sales (men) $5,000 $5,000–$45,000
Gemologist/sales (women) $1,250 $700–$4,000
Benchworker (men) $3,125 $200–$15,000
Benchworker (women) $6,000 $400–$29,200
General sales (men) $1,200 $200–$28,555
General sales (women) $7,200 $300–$80,000
Watch repair (men) $4,000 $1,000–$10,000
Watch repair (women) * *
Bookkeeper/accountant (men) * *
Bookkeeper/accountant (women) $4,000 $300–$10,960
Office staff (men) $2,500 $150–$4,150
Office staff (women) $2,325 $180–$17,040

2005 Median Total Salary

JOB TITLE NORTHEAST MIDWEST WEST SOUTH
Owner, Pres.,CEO (men) $150,000 $100,000 $96,000 $70,000
Owner, Pres, CEO (women) $85,000 * $80,600 *
Vice president (men) $125,000 $60,000 * *
Vice president (women) * * * $23,000
Manager (men) $58,500 $63,250 $59,770 $52,000
Manager (women) $51,300 $55,000 $50,000 $36,000
Assistant manager (men) * * * *
Assistant manager (women) * * * *
Buyer (men) * * * *
Buyer (women) * $33,280 * *
Gemologist/sales (men) * * $48,000 *
Gemologist/sales (women) * * $34,480 *
Benchworker (men) $41,000 $40,000 $43,600 $40,100
Benchworker (women) $31,000 $30,160 $42,000 $50,000
General sales (men) $31,200 $36,000 $42,000 $50,000
General sales (women) $31,200 $35,000 $35,000 $25,900
Watch repair (men) * $37,440 * *
Watch repair (women) * * * *
Bookkeeper/accountant (men) * * * *
Bookkeeper/accountant (women) * $35,000 * $26,000
Office staff (men) * $39,610 * *
Office staff (women) $31,000 $32,825 $30,000 $27,000
*Sample size yielded insignificant figures.

2005 Salaries (All Stores)

JOB TITLE MEDIAN BASE MEDIAN COMMISSION RANGE (TOTAL)
NORTHEAST
Owner, Pres., CEO $80,000 $25,000 $20,000–$450,000
Vice president $96,000 * $55,000–$180,000
Manager $50,000 $7,500 $36,400–$90,000
Assistant manager $40,000 $5,500 $37,300–$70,000
Buyer * * *
Gemologist/sales $33,000 * $33,000–$60,000
Benchworker $28,600 $6,000 $24,000–$65,000
General sales $30,000 $5,000 $20,780–$65,000
Watch repair * * *
Bookkeeper $49,000 * $32,000–$100,000
Office $31,000 * $16,500–$50,000
MIDWEST
Owner, Pres., CEO $64,500 $18,500 $36,500–$509,670
Vice president $55,000 * $18,230–$161,800
Manager $43,125 $25,000 $38,000–$113,000
Assistant manager $25,000 $5,000 $26,250–$44,000
Buyer $40,000 $5,000 $30,000–$72,120
Gemologist/sales $33,650 * $33,280–$350,000
Benchworker $40,000 $1,900 $22,570–$93,200
General sales $21,000 $13,500 $17,000–$75,000
Watch repair * * *
Bookkeeper/accountant $34,100 $5,000 $26,000–$70,665
Office staff $30,920 $2,735 $12,500–$59,150
WEST
Owner, Pres., CEO $84,000 $12,500 $31,000–$1,000,000
Vice president $100,000 * $20,000–$500,000
Manager $46,000 $13,210 $30,000–$250,000
Assistant manager $27,110 $6,600 $32,695–$60,000
Buyer * * *
Gemologist/sales $37,700 $3,000 $25,000–$68,000
Benchworker $42,950 $3,900 $23,380–$138,000
General sales $35,000 $3,000 $18,720–$150,000
Watch repair $37,440 * $24,280–$44,200
Bookkeeper/accountant $40,800 *