So-you’ve decided on a career as a graphic design professional. What kind of money can you expect to make in this field? First of all, you need to look at what you’ll make when you enter the field versus what you can earn over the lifetime of your career. The American Institute of Graphic Arts found in 2008 that entry-level graphic designers earned on average $35,000 annually, while senior designers having experience and supervisory duties averaged $60,000. Those graphic designers who were creative heads of departments, owned their own designing firms or were partners at designing firms enjoyed salaries of around $95,000 a year.
According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2008 graphic designers made an overall average of $42,400 a year– the lowest-paid 10 percent of graphic designers earned a salary of less than $26,110 annually, while those in the highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $76,660. After considering entry-level versus experienced graphic designers, there are salary differences depending on the industry employed in. Among the five industries employing the highest numbers of graphic designers, computer systems design and related services paid the best at $47,860 yearly on average, and printing and related support activities the least at $36,100 yearly on average.
College education, specifically a degree, has a marked effect on the amount of money a designer can earn. A degree of Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Graphic Design enables a designer to have a median salary of $36,074; earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree gives one a slighter edge of $41,260.
Where you work as a graphic design professional makes a difference in salary, too. According to payscale.com, the average yearly salary for a graphic designer in San Francisco is about $52,000; the next best city to work in is Seattle-the average yearly salary for graphic designers in that city is about $47,000. Other cities that offer good salaries for graphic designers are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, and Dallas. And as far as working for a small firm or a large company, when it comes to a graphic designer’s salary, it’s better to work for the “big guy”: those in firms employing less than 10 people earn a little over $35,000 average annual salary, while those working in large companies with 50,000 or more employees see an increase to over $53,000 yearly.
So—how does all this stack up against the average American worker? According to the 2007 findings of the United States Census Bureau, the average salary in the United States is around $81,000 a year, taking into account all types of jobs and experience. If you are a designer with a college degree who has put in several years in a large company, or has successfully created your own design business, you could meet or exceed that average. The future for designers seems to have the opportunity for growth and advancement, especially for those who consistently improve their technological skills and keep their fingers on the pulse of society’s needs and wants. For graphic designers, especially, staying power equals earning power.