While the association world’s lawyers, economists, and insurance office heads saw the biggest rise in salaries last year, meetings and conventions directors also got a bit of a compensation bump, from a mean of $59,772 in 2001 to $60,500 in 2002, according to the 14th Edition of the Association Executive Compensation & Benefits Survey, which was released by the American Society of Association Executives on June 10.

These numbers were derived from the total 800-plus associations that responded. But when you look at the responses from organizations that participated in ASAE’s survey in both 2001 and 2002, which ASAE spokesman Chris Vest says is the more reliable indicator, the news is even better: Median total compensation for meeting/convention directors jumped from $62,250 to $66,700 over the one-year period in these organizations.

While that’s good news overall, the tidings aren’t quite so glad for women in that position, who in 2002 made $60,500, as compared to $67,125 for men. The biggest influences on compensation were association budget size, staff size, geographic location, membership type, and gender, with budget size being the biggest factor (the bigger the budget, the higher the compensation levels). The highest paying jobs for meeting/convention managers geographically in 2002 were in Denver, New York, and Chicago, a big change from last year when Washington, D.C., came in first.

Directors of expositions/trade shows told a different story in this year’s survey. They were among the 14 positions out of the total of 34 that were surveyed who saw their compensation go down in 2002. Last year’s survey showed trade show/exhibition managers among the select few titles who made the largest gains in total compensation from 2000 to 2001, with a 26 percent increase in median compensation from $56,356 to $70,800. In 2002, total median compensation dropped back down to $65,200.

Again, the story was slightly different for male and female expositions/tradeshow directors, with men earning a median of $80,665 to the women's $60,224.

While information on nonexecutive staff positions (defined as middle-level professional employees and clerical/support staff) is not yet available for this year’s survey, last year’s ASAE compensation study placed conference/meeting/exposition coordinator—-which the survey categorized as clerical/support staff--as one of the more highly compensated, at a median of $31,500. Professionals in this category still fell behind secretaries/administrative assistants to the CEO and payroll clerks in median base salaries by $3,500.

Twenty-eight of the responding associations reported having people in the meeting planner position, which is defined as a mid-level profession for the survey’s purposes. Interestingly, while middle managers in associations with larger staff sizes tended to earn more, staff size played no role in compensation for clerical/support staff positions.