Graphic Designers: Salary Overview
Graphic designers create visual concepts by hand or using computer software.
Through their creations, they want to communicate ideas and captivate customers.
A graphic designer typically meets with clients to understand the scope of the project, create the designs, present their concepts to clients, incorporate changes, and review designs for errors.
Graphic designers may create illustrations, logos, or other visual elements.
As a graphic designer, you will combine art and technology to effectively communicate ideas through images.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly rate for a graphic designer in the United States is $25.05 which means that half the workers in this profession charged more than this while half charged more.
Hourly rates usually range between $15-$40 but graphic designers who have an impressive portfolio and many years of experience can make more than $50 per hour.
Annual salaries vary depending on the rate and on how many hours the graphic designer works.
The median annual wage for this profession was $52,110 as of May 2019 with salaries typically ranging from about $30,000 to $90,000 per year.
Graphic Designer Salary by Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic designers held approximately 290,000 jobs in the United States in 2018.
Out of all graphic designers, 22 percent were self-employed workers.
Most salaried graphic designers worked in the field of specialized design services, in advertising, or for companies that provide printing and related support activities or for newspapers, periodical, book, and directory publishers.
Salaries vary depending on the industry of employment.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for graphic designers who worked in the field of specialized design services was $58,830.
Graphic designers who worked in advertising earned, on average, $58,270 per year.
Lower salaries were reported by graphic designers who worked for companies that provide printing and related support activities.
In this sector, the mean annual wage was $45,490, lower than the average across all industries.
Graphic designers who worked for newspaper, periodical, book, or directory publishers made, on average, $48,770 per year while those who were employed by companies that provide management, scientific, and technical consulting services made, on average, $61,650 per year.
Higher salaries were reported by graphic designers in the federal executive branch, in aerospace product and parts manufacturing, and by those employed by software publishers.
The mean annual wage reported by graphic designers who worked in the federal executive branch was $83,680 while those who worked for aerospace products and parts manufacturers earned, on average, $81,770 per year.
Graphic designers who worked for software publishers earned, on average, $78,690, and those who worked in the field of legal services were paid, on average, with $75,910.
The above statistics applied only to salaried graphic designers.
A self-employed graphic designer’s salary depends upon his/her skills and portfolio but also on the software they use.
Keeping up with the technical advances, being able to use multiple software, and learning how to do different things can increase your earnings as a graphic designer.
As a beginner, your hourly rates will be lower but after building a portfolio your rates will most likely grow.
According to payscale.com, the average hourly rate for self-employed graphic designers was $45 but rates range between $14-$88, depending on the designer’s level of experience and the region.
There are many other factors that determine a graphic designer’s wage, including the region of employment.
The report published by BLS shows that the highest average annual wage was reported by graphic designers in the District of Columbia.
Other states with higher-than-average wages were Washington, Massachusetts, New York, and California.
Lower annual wages were reported by graphic designers in Oklahoma, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, and Indiana.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Graphic 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.