Graphic designers are a component of so many industries that the possibilities for employment opportunity are literally as limitless as there are products and services to buy. Every product that has a label, every advertising message in every media, every printed flyer or brochure or sign, every logo, virtually every form of visual communication has a some point been touched by a graphic artist.
Entry level graphic designers, sometimes called junior graphic designers, have salaries that can start from anywhere in the low $20,000s for a full-time position to $8.00 an hour for a part time position. These entry level or junior positions usually range to the lower $40,000s on the higher end of the pay scale.
Formal education may also play an important role in a designer’s ability to land higher paying positions and negotiate for more desirable salaries. Whether a designer obtains a degree through a traditional college or university or pursues online education programs or online courses the additional credentials can prove invaluable. Graphic design is a highly competitive field and demands top-notch credentials and training for the best positions.
One aspect that can sway the pay range for a graphic designer is the industry of employment and the region of employment. For entry level positions, west coast cities often offer higher starting salaries but this must also be balanced with higher costs of living, especially in markets such as Los Angeles or San Francisco. Similarly, some industries of employment offer not only higher starting salary ranges but more complete benefit packages as well. Marketing or technical companies looking for cutting edge web based designs may offer more than manufacturing or retail industries looking for packaging and label designs.
As a graphic designer increases in experience, the next employment level would be a senior graphics designer. Senior graphic designers usually start in the mid $30,000s and can range as high as the low $80,000s. Senior graphic designers, in addition to the design and layout responsibilities of the entry level position, usually are responsible for project management as well. Again depending on the industry, this project management could take on many different forms. In a manufacturing or product oriented environment it could mean becoming responsible for an entire product line or an entire brand across many different products. In marketing or advertising industries it could mean being in charge of a specific media vehicle or certain client accounts.
Then next step up from a senior graphic designer would be to an Art Director, Creative Director or Marketing Director type positions. These management positions usually range from the mid $40,000s upwards of $150,000. Determining factors include not only industry and geography as before but also the potential retail power of the brand, product or services being worked on. For example, a Creative Director for a small advertising agency in the mid west handling local and regional accounts would be much lower than a Creative Director in a New York agency handling national or international brands.
There is also one other factor that can affect the salary range of a graphic designer and that is versatility. The more mediums, products and industries a graphic designer has experience in, the higher the salary garnered. A graphic designer who only has print and video experience would not make as much as one with both of those as well as web, outdoor, product labeling and multimedia presentation experience. So regardless of the industry a graphic designer may find themselves employed in, the more varied the experience the bigger the paycheck.