When you think of a graphic designer, what do you envision? While the term once described a designer who worked on a variety of different projects, graphic designers today can specialize in one area. This change has occurred after a massive boom in demand for graphic design services. Today's apps and web-based world demand a continually changing and engaging graphics, and there's a need for designers to create them. If you have the graphic design skills to meet the demand, then this boom has been great for a graphic designer's salary.
If you are thinking about becoming a designer, and you're wondering about the sort of graphic designer annual salary you could expect, the short answer is "it depends." As a graphic designer, your salary will depend on where you are working, your specialization and experience. Furthermore, graphic designer salary amounts are based on whether they work as employees or as freelancers.
Here are the main factors affecting a graphic designer annual salary:
At the most fundamental level, a graphic designer is an artist who creates visual elements for print, web, or corporate branding. Everything from t-shirt design to business logos falls in the realm of graphic design.
The fundamental tools of the designer at the software apps included in Adobe Creative Suite. Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign are the tools of the trade. As designers branch out into more specialized fields, like UI design or web design, those fields may have unique tools and software.
In addition to being able to operate these programs, graphic designers need to be
excellent communicators, visual thinkers, and creative problem solvers.
Having a thick skin helps too since a large portion of the job requires received criticism and client feedback.
Graphic Design Niches
Basic and traditional graphic design centers around making printed materials. Posters, billboards, corporate logos, flyers, product packaging, and anything else that features artwork or type was put together by a designer. Many designers are familiar with many different areas, and they
Of course, more and more of our world is based on digital platforms, graphic designers have come into their own.
Here are just a few of the next-generation jobs that graphic designers can specialize in now.
All print publications rely on layout designers to keep their books flowing. While consistency and branding play an important role in this work, creativity and engaging designs make all the difference when you flip through your favorite catalog or textbook.
Logo Design and Branding
Corporations rely on branding to drive their marketing efforts. It is amazing to see the number of ideas and concepts that can be communicated with a simple and effective corporate logo. Creating the identity of the company is in the hands of their graphic designers. Many freelancers are called upon to create branding packages for small startups, while many large corporations handle this sort of work in-house.
Excellent graphic design is at the heart of all great webpages. Making a website that is beautiful and attention-getting, that effectively communicates what needs to be said, and that is easy to use and accessible to all people, is the goal of a great web designer. Visual elements, as well as user interface options, will be designed to match the corporate look and feel of the site.
Specializing in how apps and computer programs work and how you use them, user interface (UI) designers are masters of both visual arts and psychology. The layout, placement, and even colors of app functions greatly affect end-users enjoyment. User interface experts are more likely to be hired with larger, more experienced firms and therefore command top-dollar.
User experience designers study and master the way customers, and users experience a company. It combines many other fields of graphic design, from branding and print layout to web and app design. While UI design focuses on the user experience inside of one app or one website, UX design covers the experience over the entire company and a range of products. User experience designers are employed by the biggest companies who are experts in their market. These companies are looking to make the biggest impact they can on the user experience and are willing to pay for it.
Smartphones are replacing computers as our go-to digital devices. Every brick-and-mortar corporation wants to have an app they can use for marketing purposes, and many other companies want in on the app bandwagon.
Designing an app is a unique skill set that requires some coding know-how and some graphic design know-how. There are a lot of moving parts in app design, with a lot of different team members and market research needed. Like all designers, a creative mindset and good communications and organization skills are what set the top app designers apart from the rest of the pack.
As you will see below, niche markets like user interface designers and app designers often make substantially more than generic graphic designers. The salary of a graphic designer is closely tied to his or her skill set and how well they can adapt to changing technologies. Specializing in a niche market is an excellent way to differentiate yourself from the competition and make top-dollar.
As a full-time employee in a company
Graphic designers frequently are employed by companies who need their services full-time. Magazines and print publication companies come to mind first, since these organizations product content that must be appealing and visually beautiful. Designers here may specialize in creating graphics or focus on make page and book layouts engaging.
All large organizations will hire designers to work in PR departments, designing infographics, signage, advertising, and more. These are salaried positions that require a wide-ranging skillset including expert knowledge of one of the leading graphic design application in the market. You may be designing print advertising one day and internet campaigns the next.
Working with agencies
There are agencies that employ many designers. The agencies take on projects big and small for other companies, in some cases companies that do not have their own designers on staff. Designers working here will need to work in a very fast-paced and fluid environment since each project is for a different company. The benefit is that projects never get old or boring, and you'll get to experience a lot of different industries. Seeing how many ways different companies use graphic design in their normal business is a real eye-opener.
Working as a freelancer
The natural offshoot of the agency is the freelance graphic designer. Yes, you get to pick your hours and pick the projects and markets that most interest you. But do not underestimate the work involved in setting up your own business. In an agency, the employee is generally handed jobs as they come in. As a freelancer, it's up to you to find that work, market yourself (and your business), and make the sale. Freelancers are continually competing with both other freelancers and other agencies, many of whom can compete at lower price points.
Freelancing is usually best accomplished after you have a few years of experience working for other companies. With a robust portfolio to build on and experience creating successful real-world projects, it's much simpler to make a foray into the world of freelance graphic design.
Of course, it is not impossible to start as a freelancer. If you already have a robust freelance portfolio built up, or if you have a unique and in-demand skillset, freelancing might make a lot of sense.
Create a Design Portfolio Website
As an aspiring graphic designer, you must create a professional design portfolio website to showcase your work and profile. Your online portfolio is the key to attract and impress potential employers, clients or collaborators. Design portfolio websites need to go beyond just showcasing your designs. You also need to think out of the box, uncover your creative genius, find your expression and present your work in the best way possible. We had earlier put together a design portfolio guide with examples, a must-read for anyone serious about graphic design as a career path.
Make sure that the portfolio website builder you choose offers the flexibility, features, and ease-of-use you need to put together a professional website without requiring any coding knowledge. That's where a bit of inspiration about design comes in handy.
Pixpa is a website builder platform that is trusted by creative pros around the world.
Pixpa offers an easy yet powerful drag-and-drop website builder and includes Client galleries, eCommerce, and blogging tools to enable you to manage your complete online presence through one seamless platform. Explore all features that make Pixpa the perfect choice for designers and other creative professionals.
Showcasing your work online through a well-made portfolio website is essential even for students of design. Your student portfolio website will help you apply for higher studies, internships, jobs, and also if you are planning to start your design practice. As you grow professionally, the role of your design portfolio website in helping you gain new clients becomes increasingly important. It acts as your gateway to the world and the first interface between you and most potential clients. Hence, it's essential that your design portfolio website is designed to complement and showcase your work clearly without being distracting.
Tip: If you are looking to build your design student portfolio website, Pixpa offers a special 50% discount for student portfolio websites.
Factors Affecting Graphic Design Jobs Salaries
All of these different ways to be a graphic designer affect the answers to the question, "how much does a graphic designer make?" As you can see, an employee may make a steady salary and have other benefits like health care and a retirement account. But when compared to freelancers and self-employed contractors, they have little potential for growth and slow pay raises.
Freelancers have the most flexibility, but if they want benefits like health insurance, they'll have to find and purchase it themselves. Covering the cost for items like these can be tough. But for what they lack in benefits and overhead coverage, they more than make up for in the flexibility to work more. Freelancers aren't limited by a salary; they are limited only by the amount of work they can get and the number of hours they want to work per week.
With this great flexibility comes great power. You can either sink your ship or sail your way to freedom. It all comes down to negotiation, and to negotiate successfully, you must know your worth and value as a graphic designer. Here's where knowing what others in your field make comes in handy. What are others charging, and what are you competing against?
What is the Average Graphic Designer Salary?
As a rough estimate, the average graphic designer salary ranges between $55,000 to $83,250. But many things, including the working environment, the type of design practiced, and the artist's area of operation, affects that number. To break this down a little further, the graphic design jobs salary for artists who are just starting is generally between $40,000 and $49,000 per year, or $20 to $24 per hour. An intermediate designer with two to five years of experiences will likely get a bump in pay up to $45,000 to $57,000 per year. Excellent designers, with extensive portfolios and more than five years of work under their belts, will likely have an average graphic designer salary between $51,000 and $71,000 per year, or $25 to $34 per hour.
The graphic designer annual salary for artists who specialize in a specific market need is better. For example, the overall average salary for a user interface (UI) specialist is just under $81,000. That's over 50 percent better than a general practice graphic designer! User experience experts fair even better, with a graphic designer salary around $89,000. Right now, these are hot and in-demand jobs, and the pay scale reflects this. Other specialized niche markets for graphic designers include web designers, who average about $62,000.
If you work for a company or an agency, the opportunity to advance to a higher level in the organization is always there. As you take on more responsibility, the pay should increase proportionately. Art directors average $76,600 while creative directors will average somewhere in the neighborhood of $110,000.
For creative individuals with an eye for art and good communication skills, graphic design is a rewarding career path. Modern technology has expanded the role of the traditional graphic designer to include many digital space applications. Graphic designer salary examples are as varied as the career field is, but one thing is clear. There are opportunities to advance in the field, and graphic designers are needed at nearly every company around the world. Whether handling basic print jobs or advanced digital ecosystem experience projects, graphic designers make a huge difference in all of our lives.
Pixpa’s enables graphic designers and creative pros to create stunning design portfolio websites and showcase and share their work easily.