What Is the Average Salary for a Graphic Designer in the U.S.?

Graphic designers are creative individuals that take a message or concept and turn it into an eye-catching visual design using creative design software and technical art theories. Learn more about the average salary and job outlook for graphic designers below. Schools offering Graphic Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Description

If you work as a graphic designer or graphic artist, you'll take a concept from your employer and translate it into a visual image that is easily understood by consumers. You might create an attractive graphic for a magazine or newspaper, or you might design logos for promotional purposes. Before beginning an assignment, you'll need to understand the message fully and keep in contact with your client or employer about the direction of the project.

Once you have a project in mind, you'll need to produce sketches and focused design ideas. After your employer approves your drafts, you'll create a more detailed final version that eventually will be used by your clients. You might work for a specific business or graphic design firm, or you might perform freelance work.

Important Facts About Graphic Designers

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Professional Certification Certification in software such as Adobe's graphics programs can improve your chances of landing jobs and/or clients
Key Skills Design software, creativity, active listening, reading comprehension, decision making, critical thinking, originality, problem solving
Similar Occupations Creative director, creative manager, composing room supervisor, artist

Salary Overview

The BLS reported that graphic designers made an average income of $50,670 as of May 2014 (www.bls.gov). The top-paid ten percent of graphic designers earned $80,570 or more every year, while the bottom-paid ten percent of workers made $27,100 or less annually.

Salary by Location

The best-paying states, according to the BLS, were the District of Columbia, New York, Connecticut, California and Maryland in May 2014. If you're interested in working in one of these top-paying locations, the District of Columbia offered the most competitive salary, with an average wage of $72,820 per year.

The lowest-paying states had annual mean salaries ranging from $35,140 to $40,380. Some of these states included South Dakota, Wyoming, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Iowa and Kentucky.

Salary by Industry

The top-paying industries for graphic designers were the Federal Executive Branch and aerospace products and parts manufacturing, according to the BLS. The Federal Executive Branch offered a yearly mean income of $77,420 as of May 2014, while the aerospace product and parts manufacturing industry offered professionals a mean yearly wage of $71,340.

Salary by Experience

According to September 2015 data from PayScale.com, graphic designer salaries tended to increase with years of experience.

The salary ranges corresponding to experience levels were as follows:

  • 0-5 years: $24,652 - $52,205
  • 5-10 years: $29,318 - $61,718
  • 10-19 years: $30,609 - $71,995
  • 20 years or more: $31,093 - $85,024

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected a 7% increase in employment for graphic designers from 2012-2022, which was below average compared to other types of jobs (www.bls.gov). A great deal of competition was expected, with versatile graphic artists - for example, those able to work on print projects, websites and video - likely to have an advantage .

The industries that had the greatest levels of employment for graphic designers were specialized design services, advertising and public relations services, publishers, printing support activities and computer systems design services, reported the BLS in May 2014. If you're interested in working in one of the states with the highest numbers of graphic designers, then you'll want to work in California, New York, Texas, Florida, or Illinois.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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