What is the Average Income for a Graphic Designer?

Interested in a career as a graphic designer? If this seems like an interesting field for you, you might also be happy to know that you can make a healthy salary as a graphic designer after you graduate.

For starters, earning a degree in graphic design will help you achieve your goal. Graphic design degrees are available at the certificate, associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree level. Your career goals will determine which degree is best for you. Our list of accredited degree programs will you find the right program that meets your needs and interests.

Graphic designers work in a number of different industries. You can find employment in the public and private sectors. Government agencies need designers as do advertising agencies, in-house art departments in large corporations, internal marketing departments, just to name a few. Where you work will depend on your interests and skills. Who knows, you might find that opening your own design firm is the career move for you!

Average Salary for Graphic Designers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for all graphic designers is $48,140 annually, with the middle 50 percent earning between $33,200 and $58,600 annually and the top ten percent earning over $76,910 every year. A number of factors play into exactly how much you can earn in this field, least of which is not the position you take. Some of your options, along with their average annual salaries, include:

  • Computer Systems Design: $47,860
  • Specialized Design: $45,870
  • Advertising and Public Relations Design: $43,540
  • Newspaper/Periodical/Book Design: $36,910
  • Desktop Publisher: $36,600
  • Photographer: $29,440

These aren’t, of course, you only options in the graphic design field. You can also work as a freelancer, where you’ll take on clients in a self-employed role. In this type of position, the sky is the limit when it comes to earning potential.

Factors That Affect Salary

If you’re just starting out in the field with little experience, your salary will likely reflect your credentials. However, the more experience you get, either as a freelancer or member of an in-house team, you can expect to earn more. Keep in mind that salaries vary depending on a number of factors, including:

  • professional experience
  • education level
  • career responsibilities
  • size of the company or design firm

Consulting and freelance work can being in the bucks if you have the time and motivation to make it happen. Creating an online portfolio is your first step towards building a freelance career. An online portfolio is a great way to showcase your talents and work history. It’s important to create an online portfolio that stands out and gets noticed. Keep your portfolio simple, yet effective. Include samples of your work and contact information as well as client testimonials, if you have them. There are many free online portfolio templates to help you get started.

Graphic Design Salaries by Industry

As a graphic designer, you can work in any number of industries, since every industry out there hires graphic designers and other artists for advertising, product development, website creation, and other related tasks. Here are some of the top-paying industries you can consider:

  • Federal Executive Branch: $75,810
  • Amusement Parks and Arcades: $65,890
  • Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing: $64,080
  • Natural Gas Distribution: $64,020
  • Monetary Authorities-Central Bank: $63,060

Graphic Design Salaries by Location

Location is another factor that heavily affects the salary you’ll receive as a graphic artist. Typically, you’ll make more money working in a larger city than you’ll make working in a more rural area. Top locations in this field are:

  • San Francisco, California: $76,740
  • San Jose, California: $73,600
  • Bridgeport/Stamford, Connecticut: $69,430
  • Bethesda/Frederick/Gaithersburg, Maryland: $61,280
  • Washington, DC: $60,450
  • New York, New York: $60,320
  • Framingham, Massachusetts: $60,230
  • Santa Cruz, California: $57,710
  • Vallejo/Fairfield, California: $57,110
  • Danbury, Connecticut: $56,810

Want to work in a more rural area? Some top-paying areas in the United States include St. Mary’s County in Maryland, North Central Massachusetts, and the North Central area of Colorado. Keep in mind also that although you’ll have more high-paying options in larger cities, cost of living will also be higher in these areas, so a more rural area might make more financial sense.

List of Online Graphic Design Schools

Graphic designers are responsible for conveying messages through digital communication. They create graphic content for brochures, magazines, newspapers, packages, practically anything that can be printed or viewed on-screen. If you enjoy working on computers and have a good eye for color, animation, and Web design, pursuing a degree in graphic design might be an appropriate choice. You’ll learn the necessary skills and receive the right training to work in this creative and challenging industry. What’s more, you’ll learn cutting-edge digital imaging techniques that put you at the top of your field. Not only are graphic design classes available online, but in some cases you can earn your entire degree without any campus time required! Below are some online programs from accredited universities.

Full Sail University — Full Sail University offers several web and graphic design degrees including: a BS in Web Design degree teaching students concept, code, and how-to publish your own standards-based content for a variety of formats; a BS in Graphic Design teaches students to work within specific creative demands while producing high-end design work in a variety of different formats; an MFA in Media Design a curriculum that explores the tactical and collaborative planning behind design.

Sanford Brown College — Sanford Brown College features an AS - Graphic Design and a BFA - Graphic Design for students passionate about using a variety of media to create lasting productions. Students are challenged to examine complex commercial design problems and come up with creative solutions.

DeVry University — DeVry University's Associates in Web Design helps students master software applications, fundamental design principles, web content management, animation, and apply these skills to produce high-quality, web-enabled graphics and develop all types of graphic media including web pages, marketing collateral, advertising, instructional material, and multimedia projects. Upon completion of your web graphic design degree program, you will have created a wide array of web graphic design samples to build a full professional portfolio.

Click here to learn about more graphic design colleges.

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