Whether you’re looking to hire a Graphic designer or looking to be a Graphic designer, you’ll need a basic understanding of how many graphic designers earn. Making art for a living is certainly an attractive lifestyle, but it’s important to consider practical expectations for your future finances. This isn’t as straightforward as you might expect.
What Do Graphic Designers Do?
Graphic designers use color, illustrations, fonts, and layout to communicate a message visually or visually present a product. They design logos, product packaging, print materials, and websites, among many other things. Graphic designers are found in a variety of industries and different capacities. For instance, a designer might be employed as in-house staff to work on promotional materials for the organization, or a designer might work for a design agency with many clients and projects. Newspapers, advertising firms, technology-oriented companies, and other organizations commonly employ designers. Additionally, many graphic designers are self-employed, working as independent contractors on a per-project basis.
Most designers work in an office environment in front of a computer, though some work primarily by hand at a drafting table. Because graphic design often is deadline-driven, designers frequently work long hours. Most graphic designers specialize in one or two areas, such as print, web design, poster design, or corporate identity. Graphic designers are not always required to have completed any specific education, though it is common for designers to hold degrees from an art school or other undergraduate institution. They must know design elements, such as color, typography, composition, and artistic sensibility, to effectively use them. Graphic designers need excellent communication skills and can effectively present ideas visually and verbally to internal stakeholders, clients, and intended audiences. Since most graphic design is created using Adobe Illustrator and InDesign, graphic designers must possess technical skills.
How much do graphic designers make?
As a graphic designer, you make a living off of being creative and talented. You may design web pages for several different clients as a freelancer or work directly for a company where you meet with a creative team to discuss projects. Regardless of where you work, your role is to create digital visual elements that build a brand or promote a specific product that’s being released.
There are a lot of factors to consider when assessing graphic designer salary information. Earning potential can depend on several elements, such as experience, education, location, specialization, job setting, and more.
If you’re a creative person by heart, you might be interested to learn how much you can expect to make if you pursue a career in graphic design. Here’s what you need to know:
Experienced graphic designers usually have higher yearly incomes and can seek promotion opportunities to become art directors or chief designers. What graphic designers make based on experience looks like below:
- Entry-level:$29,849 – $55,638
This includes designers who have recently begun freelancing, graduated from a design school, or just started a design company or firm. Designers in this range would typically be proficient in several design programs but have yet to hone their style or make a name for themselves professionally. In a firm, you would expect these designers to be receiving regular instructions from a supervisor.
- Mid-career:$33,203 – $63,320
You can expect designers with this level of experience to have full portfolios reflecting both proficiency and personal style. As freelancers, they will often have a professionally made website with clear practices and terms for freelance engagement. In a firm, they will typically have additional skills such as team building and communication, and they will require less instruction from supervisors.
- Experienced:$35,089 – $69,595
At this level, you have designers who are well regarded as freelancers or who hold senior graphic designer positions at a company, where they would manage teams of designers. They would have a firm understanding of technological advances in design, changes or trends in the design world, and how to design effectively for a given target demographic.
Salaries for specific roles within design
To narrow these salary estimates down a bit more, we need to consider different roles within the field of graphic design. Simplyhired.com offers some helpful estimates in that regard:
- Graphic Design Intern – $25,291
- Graphic Designer – $38,310
- Senior Graphic Designer – $55,149
- Senior Designer – $83,312
- Art Director – $76,602
- Creative Director – $108,833
- Instructional Designer – $60,294
- Web Designer – $61,970
- Visual Designer – $77,109
- User Experience Designer – $89,061
- User Interface Designer – $80,712
From these estimates, we can see that pay increases not only from experience but also from skill requirements and level of responsibility. Take, for example, art direction at $76,602. In many cases, this job puts you in control of coordinating multiple design teams to produce a cohesive look for an entire organization. That’s a lot of responsibility, and the salary estimate above reflects that!
Which Industries Pay the Highest?
Since graphic design is a professional service that is needed in all industries, there’s definitely a lot of job security. What you might not know is that the wages reported in some industries are higher than in others. Computer systems design companies and advertising companies tend to have the highest concentration of employment in this field. Aerospace manufacturers, securities brokerages, telecommunications companies, and scientific research service companies have all been reported to pay the highest salaries to professionals who the company employs.
Do Freelancers Make More than Workers Employed by a Company?
One of the great things about graphic design as an occupation is that you have choices. You can choose to pursue a position for a firm or a corporation, or you can choose to work for yourself as a freelancer who enters contracts with multiple companies at a time. While there are advantages to freelancing, you need to consider the big picture. You will enjoy the flexibility and can target clients in an industry where you specialize; you cannot expect your client to pay for your materials needed to complete the contract.
For some professionals, it is easiest to make the decision when you consider where the earnings are highest. Freelancers set their rates and must stay competitive to attract new business. Professionals employed for a company enjoy a steady salary and may also receive benefits.
Common questions about being a graphic designer
Graphic design salary information is important. But beyond meeting your financial needs, a career should also fit your personality, skills, and lifestyle. Take a moment to read up on the answers to some other important questions about working as a graphic designer.
What are some important graphic design skills?
This is a key question for any would-be graphic designer. You’ll need to take some time to assess yourself and identify the areas you need to improve to align with what employers seek.
- Adobe Creative Suite® (Photoshop®, InDesign®, Illustrator®, Acrobat®)
- Social media
- Website design
- Digital design
- Project management
- Marketing materials
- Art direction
2. What are some important qualities of graphic designers?
The technical skills outlined above are necessary for graphic designers to execute the actual tasks assigned to them. But there are several other skills needed to bring an idea from concept to creation successfully.
We have identified five important qualities employers are seeking in graphic design candidates. They are
- Creativity: This one probably goes without saying, but graphic designers are tasked with identifying creative solutions to deliver a message or solve a problem. This requires an innate ability to think outside the box and bring forth innovative ideas regularly.
- Analytical: A graphic designer should step outside their own mind and view the product or service analytically and from different perspectives. That way, they can help anticipate how the audience will receive it.
- Communication: Graphic designers must possess strong written and oral communication skills to work with team members and clients effectively. Asking inquisitive questions helps them understand expectations so their designs will align with their client’s vision.
- Time management: Designers are often faced with the challenge of working on several projects with various deadlines at the same time. Being able to juggle multiple projects and meet stringent deadlines is essential to a successful design career.
- Research: Graphic design techniques and trends are constantly evolving, which means the learning is never done for designers. To ensure their designs meet client objectives, they need to be willing to dig up insights about their audience and explore new strategies.
3. What are some common graphic design specialties?
Beyond designing for print or web, graphic designers can specialize in several different niche areas. Some common design specialties include:
- User interface (UI) design
- Web design
- Application design
- Animation and motion graphics
- User experience (UX) design
- Information architecture
Launch your graphic design career
So how much do graphic designers make? Charging a fair, competitive price for design work is not an exact science, but hopefully, the numbers above give you an estimated idea of what kind of compensation to expect. When you’re starting as a designer, it can be hard to know where on the spectrum you might fall. By understanding the going rate for design work in your area and with your level of expertise, you can make sure not to settle for less than you deserve
Find your style and the industry you prefer and start searching for the best graphic designer opportunities.