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Trade Show Management Salaries: Why are they so low?

 If trade shows are the source of the most qualified leads, why aren't the managers that create them paid more? 

IStock_000015451654SmallIt is said that trade show managers create tremendous wealth when they manage the trade show activities for a company.  If that is the case, I wonder why the salary levels are just so-so. 

I was surprised by this, considering that trade show management creates outsized wealth for the company.

These are the people who spend large amounts of their time traveling, put in long hours, and control the events that fill the sales pipeline for a year after the show.   They control exhibit property investments, broker the best transportation fees, and work like dogs for a week before a show, with little sleep.  Exhibit managers are part carpenter, mechanic, electrician, and labor union negotiator. They fill the booth with salespeople who’d rather be on the phone, who complain about the long hours, and who often wander away at the busiest time when the most qualified prospects are looking for help. Exhibit managers understand signage, traffic flow, and work station design to get the best from visitors.   In short, they create magic.

This is what we found:

Exhibitor On Line gives some detailed information and pegs an average salary at $71,273, plus another $6,030 in extra compensation.  This listing is the most detailed of any I’ve seen.  They give the salary by gender: Female $69,449, and Male $76,463.  What is really neat about Exhibitor on Line is that you can use their salary calculator, which looks at 13 different factors to take into account education, experience and more. reports that the median trade show manager’s salary is $78,659.   The average for salary plus bonus is $82,275.  I suggest you look at their full description including the benefits section, which shows an average of $114,862 with all benefits rolled in. shows a lower median at $54,154.  The range appears to be from $33,816 to $81,139.  This is without bonus or benefits.

SimplyHired shows an average of $74,000.  

All of these sites can help you understand compensation and the last three have job listings. 

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