The principals of American public relations firms now generate hourly rates as high as their counterparts in other professions, according to a survey by StevensGouldPartners, a New York-based consulting firm.

The current average rate for the CEO, president or chairman of the average PR agency is $322 an hour.  According to Gould, PR agency principals are finally earning hourly rates worthy of the contribution they make to their clients.

“Agency heads are now right up there with lawyers, CPA firm partners, and other corporate consultants,” says Gould.

The hourly rate of an account executive is now $140; a senior account executive $161; an account supervisor $180; an account manager $202; a vice president $226; and an executive vice president $272. But there are significant differences in hourly rates in different parts of the country, with principals of New York agencies earning $364 an hour and those in Washington, D.C., billing at $344 an hour, compared to $284 in the southeast.

Agency size is another factor in billing rates. The CEO of an agency with more than $25 million in fees generates an average hourly rate of $470, while a counterpart in an agency with less than $3 million in fees is likely to bill at $278 an hour.

The majority of PR agencies create billing rates by position, not by the salary of the individual.