Becoming an art director could be the dream career of a person who loves art and design, and it is important to be aware of the median art director salary before applying for or accepting a position. Many factors go into the salary offer for an art director, including the type of employer, location of employment, degrees held by the candidate and the applicant’s years of experience. Keep these factors in mind when evaluating the median art director salary.

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Median Art Director Salary

The average annual art director salary was $92,780 in May 2018 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest 10 percent of earners had salaries averaging $52,160, and the highest 10 percent of earners brought in more than $172,570 per year. These median salaries include art directors across all industries. More education, such as a doctorate in fine arts or a specialty such as art history, may increase a person’s salary. Some other salary boosters include being bilingual, interning at world-class museums or studying under well-known artists or art directors.

Salary By Industry of Employment

Art director salaries also vary by the industry of employment. Those who work in the motion picture and video game industries have the highest median wages, averaging $117,360 per year. Those in advertising and public relations earn $95,130, which a little higher than the median annual wage for all art directors. Art directors in the specialized design services in private companies earn a median annual wage of $93,270. The lowest-earning industry of employment for art directors is newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers, and their median annual salary is $81,060.

Salary By State

Art director salaries vary by state; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top five paying states for art directors are California, New York, Georgia, Oregon and Washington. New York and California are also on the list of the top five states with the most jobs for art directors. Employers may offer higher wages in these places to attract the top candidates to their job openings. The motion picture and television production industries are also heavily concentrated in these states.

Salary By Metropolitan Area or City

Another way to consider median salaries for art directors is by the metropolitan area or city where the position is located. Higher salaries are correlated with higher costs of living in many of these places. The top-paying metro area for art directors is San Francisco, Oakland and Hayward, CA, with an annual median salary exceeding $137,000. Other cities or metro areas in the top 10 list of highest paying cities are Los Angeles/Long Beach, New York/Newark, San Jose/Sunnyvale, Atlanta, Portland/Vancouver, San Diego, Hartford, Philadelphia and Provo.

When evaluating whether a salary offer is competitive, candidates should consider looking at the cost of living in the metropolitan area or city. The position’s other benefits, such as paid time off, insurance, expenses-paid travel or admission into exclusive events and facilities may also add to the benefits of a job that might have a lower than average salary. Knowing what to expect from an art director salary offer could make it easier for a candidate to accept or decline a job.

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