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Graphic Designer Salaries


Graphic design is an increasingly popular and expanding field. With that, more and more professionals want to take advantage of this exciting career opportunity. But before launching into the preparation and training involved with starting a career, it’s always important to know what the income potential is for that profession. In the case of graphic design, the numbers are all over the place. Because graphic designers are distributed across countless industries and work in all corners of the country, salaries in the field can vary widely. It’s hard to predict what you can earn as a graphic designer because there are so many factors that influence that number.

Average Graphic Designer Salaries

On average, graphic designers in the U.S. earn anywhere between $30,000 and $50,000 a year. Obviously, there’s a large discrepancy within those figures. However, these figures represent what a beginning graphic designer can expect to make as well as a more experienced graphic designer. For the most part, graphic designers earn approximately $40,000 a year. While this may not be as much as you might expect, there is potential to earn more than this with the right experience and career choices.

Getting Started as a Graphic Designer: Beginning Salary

Like most professionals, graphic designers start out at the lower end of the pay scale. Beginning graphic designers usually earn between $25,000 and $39,000 annually. If you’re applying for an entry level position, competition for jobs can be significant. If you’re starting out as a freelance graphic designer, your salary can be lower due to the fact that it takes time to build a reputation and clientele. With time, graphic design salaries do increase.

Market Demand for Graphic Designers

Market demand for graphic designers is influenced by two key elements. High demand for graphic design talent is tempered by the presence of many graphic design professionals. Although there is an ever present demand for graphic designers in video games, advertising, newspapers, magazines, website design, and countless others’ there are also lots of professionals vying for those positions and clients. As a result, graphic design salaries are slightly lower than other professions. However, graphic designers benefit from the fact that their profession is not a trend that is likely to disappear. As long as the internet is a part of our lives, graphic designers will be needed. Competition may be intense in this field, but graphic design professionals will not go out of style in the foreseeable future.

What Determines your Graphic Design Salary?

Graphic designer salaries vary across the board. Competition controls the earning potential for graphic designers to a certain extent. But it’s possible for graphic designers to earn significantly more than the average figures. Salary is determined by a number of different factors, including:

  • Location
  • Experience
  • Training
  • Industry
  • Specialization

Location is a constant factor when it comes to salaries in every profession. Two people living in different geographic areas but working in the same profession could earn dramatically different salaries. Graphic design is also influenced by geography. However, because graphic design is a service that can be delivered through virtual channels, geography does not influence salary as much as other professions. Experience and training greatly influence the salaries of graphic designers.

Professionals with extensive, impressive portfolios and years of experience can charge more for the services than designers who are just starting out. Not to mention, more experienced designers are more likely candidates for upper level positions at design firms, such as creative director or even partner. Graphic designers at this level can earn as much as $80,000 to $100,000 annually or more. Industry and specialty also influence your earning potential.

Certain industries’ such as website design and video game design’ require unique skills from graphic designers that are in high demand.  Designers working in these fields are likely to earn more than others. Also, graphic designers who work for prominent advertising firms and working on high profile ad campaigns have more income potential.

Increasing your Graphic Design Salary

In order to make the most of your graphic design career and salary, it’s important to pursue your education and training with enthusiasm.  Skills and experience can mean the difference between a more profitable, authoritative position as a graphic designer and staying at lower level on the income scale. Creativity and ability also help build your reputation and clientele if you want to build a lucrative freelance design career. Graphic design is an ever-changing industry. The designers that earn the most are the ones that stay on top of the trends and work hard to acquire relevant skills. By educating yourself on emerging trends and strong industries in the field as well as continuing to learn and improve, you can increase your earning capacity as a graphic designer and maintain a long and rewarding career.


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