How much does a graphic designer earn?

How much does a graphic designer earn?

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This is another question that I hear a lot of students asking, along with designer job definitions. My tutor directed me to this American website called Designer Salaries which tells you exactly how much each type of designer earns based on a survey of 11 000 firms conducted by AIGA over the whole of the USA over the past seven years.

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How much do designers get paid?

Check out the Designer Salaries website – 2008 results out now.

  • Highly Recommended: View the 42 page comprehensive (but very readable) 2007 Salary Survey Report. (PDF)
  • View Short Report: Click image below.
    Designer Salaries
  • Flash Chart: Also worth checking out is this flash based chart that shows exactly how much each type of designer has been earning over the past seven years. It seems to be missing the years from the top of the chart but it goes from year 2000 to year 2007.
  • Salary Calculator: It also has a salary calculator which is useful in determining how much you would earn if you worked in a certain state and with a certain sized agency.
  • You may also be interested in the Top 10 Places to work as a graphic designer in the USA
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39 thoughts on “How much does a graphic designer earn?”

  1. Thats pretty useful, thanks for pointing that out Lauren.

    I think professors have a better salary then some designers. For example, the head of our design school at uni earns $500 000 a year. Eek.

  2. Geeez, is that in Australian dollars? I was so curious about what that is in USD that I looked up the exchange rate on Google. He makes $440,750, which is still pretty close to the AD. I can’t believe that! You must go to pretty prestigious school. Maybe you should take over for him when you graduate 😉

  3. Yeah that is Australian dollars and it isn’t even a prestigious university, if anything its just my local Uni (about 12 mins away). The next closest uni is about 2 hours away so whatever that means I do not know, but it’s not ‘prestigious’. And I don’t really see myself taking over him, its not something I would like to do, especially looking at his office, I don’t think you can even see a bit of wall or desk with the amount of work he has.

  4. Marko, if you are talking about the Uni Professer, just to let you know, I believe he 100% deserves that pay because he works his arse off and he has done great things for the University. I once came into his office to have a talk about gaining credit for one of my uni courses and I ended up talking to him for about 30mins (and only 5mins of that was about my course)… He is true to his staff and values everyone as a different person – whatever level they may be at. This is what I believe deserves the pay check. And another thing – It has taken him 60 years to get there 😛 Marko, have you ever thought about upping your rates?

  5. I work for a web development company and my work includes web design, web development, print. I code mostly in PHP, ASP, ASP.NET.

    I’m from Slovenia, so I guess it’s normal to expect lower salary here. But I don’t get more than third of the lowest salary on the list.

    Marko Novak’s last blog post..Google makes me angry again

  6. Wow… Isn’t that like below the poverty line. For someone so skilled and talented you should be earning way more than that. Slovenia, sounds interesting – what’s it like there?

  7. Wow, makes me think that maternity leave from advertising might be made more lucrative than my regular employ. 😉

    In your opinion, is it absolutely necessary for a designer to have the formal design education regardless of experience, skill, or on-the-job training? And if so, why?

  8. No of course not! It is not about where you studied or how you learnt it, it’s about what you produce. There are many successful self taught designers out there!

  9. Hi,I am so happy i spent my weekend reading from blogs such as yours.I am a Computer Science student in india,in a very “prestigious” college…lol.

    I have always found a certain attraction to design,but your blog and reading through all the graceful comments here by several people was inspiring way differently.

    I am interning till July 15 at a space agency.
    Will be back home then.All this stuff makes me feel more passionately towards designing than ever.Hopefully i will have gained start up skills by the time my college starts.Get my feet wet ,you know 😛

    Keep up this awesome work all of you.You are an inspiration to me.


  10. Interestingly, as LaurenMarie says, my profs simply would not give us a straight answer re pay scales. I said it would be nice to earn 50K and my prof (literally) laughed in my face for lowballing. He gave the impression we would earn way more and that he made triple that.

    I always felt it was a very irresponsible approach and leads directly to phenomenal student loans racked up with the idea that we can make bank and pay them off no problem.

    Having worked in the industry for 6 years+ I am happy to report I am making the 50 i wanted. My student loan is another matter.

  11. Hey Jacob! (remember me?:p)

    I design for clients now . please take a look at it, just to get the idea:

    The thing is, my major is in music (I’m studying Media and Entertainment) but now, things happened and suddenly I design for clients (I’m doing internship at SubsetM)
    I do not have any degree in design, do you think I still can earn as much as a designer with degree?


  12. I’m 20, and work for a firm in England, doing website and logo design, and i must say, the pay is not great, i get about £15,000 per annum. I can’t complain though, as i was literally GIVEN the job. Nice foot-in-the-door approach, i’m now considering applying for larger firms or going freelance next year.

  13. I work as graphic designer in a firm but I also work as:
    – telephone operator
    – manager
    – supplies officer
    – team leader
    – prepress operator
    – print operator on large format printer
    – serviceman for that printer

    Company owner is pain in the a##, think I work less and worth less. He pays me something around 200 euros. My rent is 210 euros. I have to pay buss to job everyday and have to eat too. I don’t have payed overtime, almost every single day I work for 10-18 hours. Salary is usually late 1 or 2 months and owner treats me like he’s paying me 1 billion euros per month…

    No life for designers in lawless country!
    I should be a cop instead.

    Greetings from eastern Balkan!

  14. That is so crazy Angry one. I cant believe the country would allow such bad treatment. You deserve the pay that you work for, not any amount less. I wish you luck and maybe you should get a room mate and save to move or just work outside of the town that you live in. Something great will happen do not worry.

  15. hey jacob…i m an undergraduate…graduating in bachelor of design [ fashion communication ] and in fture i m gonna take graphic designer as major. i m doing graphic designer from national institute of fashion technology [ NIFT ] i just wanted to know how can i apply for good job…..plzzz reply fast

  16. Please forgive me for the graphic and bad grammar / spelling in the picture above as I’m sure you can see it is a joke 🙂 (rainbow gradients, comic sans, bevel emboss, 13 not 15, bad grammar, off centered type – yuk)

  17. Fortunately, the value for designers keep increasing. I think the reason their value keeps increasing is because the mediums for them to work on continues to evolve. Now that an ad agency can charge 250000 on a motion graphics campaign, they can afford to pay the designers who make the campaign a competitive rate. 🙂

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