Designers: Salary Overview
The term “designer” is a broad term that may refer to graphic designers, fashion designers, interior designers, floral designers, or industrial designers.
Their role and job description vary depending on specialty and expertise.
For example, graphic designers interpret the client or employer’s marketing needs and use a variety of software to create visuals that will promote the company and inspire the target audience.
Median annual wages also vary depending on the designer’s specialty.
Graphic designers earn $52,110 a year as of May 2019 while fashion designers earn a median annual wage of $73,790 in May 2019.
The median annual wage in the United States was $68,890 for industrial designers, $28,040 for floral designers, and $50,090 for interior designers.
Designer Salary by Industry
Annual salaries for designers, in general, vary widely depending on the industry of employment and their specialty.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of graphic designers (22%) were self-employed while 10% of them worked for companies that provide specialized design services.
The industry of advertising, public relations, and related services hired about 8% of all graphic designers while 7% of them worked in the industry of print and related support activities.
Newspapers, periodical, book, and directory publishers employed around 5% of all graphic designers.
The earnings of salaried graphic designers vary depending on the industry of employment.
Graphic designers who worked in advertising earned a median annual wage of $54,320 as of May 2019 while those who worked for companies that provide specialized design services earned a median annual wage of $54,150.
Graphic designers who worked in the field of printing and related support activities earned significantly less, with a median annual salary set at $41,290.
Those employed by newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers earned around $43,950 a year.
Fashion designers, on the other hand, worked mostly for apparel, piece goods, and notions merchant wholesalers or were self-employed.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, merchant wholesalers hired approximately 28 percent of all fashion designers.
Many fashion designers (about 24%) were self-employed while 13% of them worked for companies that provide management services.
The motion picture and video industry hired 11% of all fashion designers.
Their earnings also varied depending on the field of employment.
For example, the highest median salary of $80,140 a year was reported in the field of motion picture and video industry.
Fashion designers who worked for apparel manufacturers earned a median annual wage of $73,600 while those who worked for apparel wholesalers earned around $73,060 per year.
However, reputation, the level of experience, and the portfolio is another important factor that determines how much a designer makes, regardless of their field of expertise.
If you’re a fashion designer with a great portfolio you can easily make over $150,000 a year but if you’re just a beginner who’s trying to build a portfolio, your should expect to make less than $40,000 a year.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most interior designers worked for companies that provide specialized design services (28%) or were self-employed (23%).
The highest median annual wage for interior designers was reported in the industry of architectural, engineering, and related services- a field where designers earned somewhere around $60,910.
Interior designers who worked for furniture stores, on the other hand, earned significantly less; the median annual salary for this industry was $47,340.
However, there are many other factors that impact an interior designer’s earnings and if you’re an experienced designer who works for a furniture store you can make more than a less experienced designer who works for an architectural company, for example.
The region of employment and the size of the company is another factor that influences salaries in the field of interior design.
Many designers also receive commissions, bonuses, and profit-sharing and these can supplement their annual wages with several thousands of dollars a year.
It all depends on the employer, the designer’s role in the company, and the compensation package the designer has negotiated.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Designers. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.