Aspiring graphic designers often wonder what the typical salary for a graphic designer is. Graphic designers are trained professional artists who use their knowledge of graphic designs to create visual concepts to deliver a message or point to clients or market professionals. Although graphic designers have the potential to earn excellent salaries, many factors can affect earning potential.

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Factors That Affect a Graphic Designer’s Salary

When discussing the typical salary for a graphic designer, many things come into play. It’s never easy to pinpoint what a typical salary is without understanding how they vary. Here are some important factors that can affect the graphic designer’s salary:

  • Education Obtained – Graphic designers with a bachelor’s degree generally earn higher wages than those with an associate’s degree because they’ve learned more about graphic design. A designer with a master’s degree typically earns a higher wage than one with a bachelor’s degree.
  • Work Experience – The number of years of experience working as a graphic designer can affect the salary potential very much. The more work experience a graphic designer has, the less training the individual requires and the more valuable he or she is to the company. In some situations, work experience can play an even bigger part than education.
  • Employer – A large company in a large city is typically going to pay higher wages than a small company. This has a lot to do with competition. A graphic designer working for a large well-known company like Google will typically earn a higher wage than working for a small company.
  • Location – We’ve all heard that saying, “It’s all about location” and it is all about location. Every city and every state is going to offer different wages based on average wage statistics, cost of living and similar factors.
  • Skills – The skills a graphic designer has to play an important role in the type of salary he or she can earn according to PayScale.

Different Wages for Different Locations

Location probably plays the biggest factor in determining the typical salary for a graphic designer. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the average annual wages for graphic designers in every state. Here are the five states where graphic designers earn the highest wages followed by the states where they earn the lowest wages:

  • District of Columbia – $69,530
  • New York – $64,820
  • Massachusetts – $61,400
  • Connecticut – $60,250
  • Virginia – $59,550
  • South Dakota – $36,040
  • Montana – $38,760
  • Mississippi – $39,460
  • New Mexico – $39,780
  • Idaho – $40,400

Skills Also Affect a Graphic Designer’s Salary

Graphic designers generally have degrees, and the graphic design skills they have usually coincide with the degree level. In some cases, a designer may only have an associate’s degree but may be skillful with various graphic designer software programs. The more graphic design software a designer can use proficiently or the more graphic design-based things they are good at the higher his or her wage potential.

A graphic designer proficient in branding may earn about 9% more, while knowledge of web design can increase wages an additional one percent. Here are several skills a graphic designer can possess to increase earning potential according to PayScale.

  • Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF)
  • Product Photography
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Dreamweaver
  • Cascading Style Sheets
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe Acrobat
  • HTML

Career Outlook

Graphic designers are very much in demand today, especially for those who use digital media to sell an idea or product. Graphic designers overall should see an employment growth of three percent during the 2018-2028 decade. It’s important to understand that the type of work a graphic designer does will affect job growth.

For instance, graphic designers working for newspapers, magazines and similar publications should experience a decline in jobs – a 22 percent decline according to the BLS. Graphic designers working computer systems design and related areas, on the other hand, could see job growth of 24 percent during that same period.

Working as a graphic designer can be a very exciting and rewarding career. Creating a graphic or picture to help get a point across or sell a product can be exciting and stimulating. When considering the typical salary for a graphic designer, it’s important to realize that earning the degree and gaining work experience is the first step towards getting the best possible salary for a career that most graphic designers love.

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