Graphic Designer Salary Guide 2018

Graphic Designer Salary Guide 2018

The ever-changing abundance of factors on which salary estimation is based makes compensation planning challenging to execute.

Industry trends, the most in-demand jobs and fields, future predictions for different areas, etc. are the factors which are necessarily considered in compensation planning.

The role of a specially designed salary guide is to help you understand your value and so that you may use the collected data for retaining top talent, budgeting, planning creative initiatives, preparing for annual review processes, etc.

This particular guide is for the most in-demand creative job of 2018; Graphic Design.

Graphic design means using illustrations, colours, fonts, layouts, and other creative designing techniques as a way of visual communication.

Graphic designers are employed in a multitude of industries especially advertising firms and technology-oriented companies, because their job is to create and apply images and graphics to design logos, websites, print materials, product packaging, displays and production, product brand identity, direct marketing projects, etc.

Most designers work in an office environment; some might be employed as in-house staff for a company, some may find work in design agencies and work with multiple clients and projects, while many are freelancers or self-employed; working on a per-project basis as independent contractors.

The Graphic designers who earn the highest amount of salary per year are self-employed.

On average a freelance Graphic Designer earns from $10/hour to $60/hour.

According to a survey by PayScale, Graphic Design is dominated by 63% of women.

Male Vs Female Graphic Designers

Five essential skills for Graphic Designers


Graphic Designers need creativity. You need to come up with new and innovative designs. Figuring out ways to keep your ideas fresh and your mind sharp will help you succeed in the design career.



Typography has the potential to make or break your design. Understanding how to find the right font or knowing how to create your own will go a long way in the design process.



Understanding how to use the well-known design software such as Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Flash, and InDesign will help you in landing your dream graphic design job.



Understanding client’s specification and requirements is a key to creating a successful design.


Web Design

A Graphic Designer should hold enough knowledge to work with CSS and HTML. Adding web design to your design portfolio will add value to your Resume.


Typical career paths for Graphic Designers


Graphic Designer Jobs

For reference, graphic designers with:

0 to 4 years of experience are called Junior – (Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, and Layout Design are usually the desired skills)

1 to 9 years of experience are called Middle-Weight – (Web Design, HTML, Photography, and Adobe Creative Suite are the desired skills)

5 to 19 years of experience are called Senior – ( Adobe Creative Suite and Marketing Communications are the desired skills)

5 to 19 years of experience can be Studio Manager – (Marketing Communications and Branding are the desired skills)

1 to 19 or 10 to 19 years of experience can become Art Director – (Desktop Publishing is the desired skill)

10 to 19 years of experience can be Creative Director – (Art Direction, User Interface Design, People Management, and Project Management are the desired skills)


Salary varies depending on a combination of factors including your experience level and your personal and professional skill set.

Data collected from approximately nineteen thousand individuals by a Payscale Research based in the United States shows that graphic designers earn around forty-two thousand dollars per year, with starting salary approximated to be about thirty-one thousand dollars and senior-level wage was approximated to be about sixty-one thousand dollars.

The same research looked at the bonuses offered ranging from $242 to $5,015, profit sharing ranging from $304 to $6,096, and commissions ranging from $101 to $6,787.

It was found from the data collected in the Research that most of the Graphic Designers spend about twenty years in this career and then move on to other positions.


Graphic designer salary influencing factors


Graphic Designer salary varies by experience level and location of employment.




The Payscale research shows that Pay by Experience for a Graphic Designer has a positive trend.

An entry-level Graphic Designer with experience of fewer than five years can expect to earn average total compensation of around $38,000 based on 19,078 salaries provided by anonymous users.

Average total compensation of an entry level designer includes bonus, tips, bonus, and overtime pay.

A Graphic Designer with mid-career experience which includes employees with 5 to 10 years of experience can expect to earn average total compensation of $43,000 based on 9,428 salaries.

An experienced Graphic Designer which includes employees with an experience of around 10 to 20 years can expect to earn average total compensation of $46,000 based on 5,436 salaries.

A late-career Graphic Designer which includes employees with a working experience of more than 20 years can expect to earn average total compensation of $49,000 based on 1,867 salaries.


Experience Designer Salaries


Pay Difference by Location


Location affects pay significantly too.

According to research by Payscale, the following variations in the salaries of a Graphic designer were found in The United States by taking the national average to be around $40,500.


Pay Difference By Location


Salaries of Graphic Designers: (Estimated based on demand in the year 2018)


The following table shows an estimated Graphic designer salary based on demand in the year 2018.


Graphic Designer Salaries 2018


Common Health benefits provided to Graphic Designers


Common Health benefits supplied to Graphic Designers are as under:

Medical – 65%
Dental – 52%
Vision – 41%
None – 33%


Graphic Designer Salary according to Skills


Generally, a Graphic Designer only requires a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design.

However, there are also some associate programs; a Graphic Designer can enrol in:



Flash is a standard across the web for using content on the Adobe Flash platform; it is used to create 2D and 3D games, animations, vector graphics, and rich internet applications as well.

According to PayScale, a Graphic Designer with an additional Adobe Flash skill has an average reported salary range of $29,000 to $61,388 per annum.



Graphic Designers may find it difficult to get a job in Graphic Designing if they strictly have PC knowledge.

According to PayScale, Graphic Designers with Mac skills have an average reported salary of $36,913 to $82,691 per annum.

Macintosh and iOS skills are associated with higher pay for Graphic Design managers.



The ability to illustrate is a profitable skill for Graphic Designers since it involves interpretation of a concept, designed for integration in published media, such as magazines, flyers, films, etc.

According to PayScale, a Graphic Designer with an illustration skill has a reported salary range of $23,456 to $60,671 per annum.


Adobe After Effects

Adobe After Effects allows Graphic designers to create visual effects and motion graphics in television production and filmmaking.

It can be a very marketable skill on your Resume.

According to PayScale, a Graphic Designer with Adobe After Effect skill has a reported salary range of $25,237 to $61,598 per annum.


Highest Paying States


A simple way to boost your graphic designer salary is to move to a higher paying state such as CA, NY, etc.

According to a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most successful and highly paid Graphic Designers are in the states of DC, CA, NY, MA, and MD.


Highest and Lowest Paying Industries


Not all industries pay the same for a Graphic Designer.

A Graphic Designer can increase their salary by changing industry as well.

According to a survey by Owlguru, top three highest paying industries for a Graphic Designer are:

  • Federal Executive Branch
  • Federal Government, including the US Postal Service
  • Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing


Whereas, the top 3 lowest paying industries for a Graphic Designer are:

  • Drinking Places (Alcoholic Beverages)
  • Automotive Parts, Tire Stores, and Accessories
  • Personal Care Services


Graphic design is a rewarding profession for creative individuals.

In the modern digital age, computer skills are also very valued for graphic designers.

These professionals get to work on many exciting projects, but with these projects comes long hours and work that does not end at the end of the working day.

With freelance work becoming more and more common, this area has also become a land of opportunity for most designers with most of them building an empire from scratch.

By considering the information listed above such as the average Graphic Designer salary and educational requirements – you can determine whether this path is right for you.


Author Bio: Zeeshan Khalid is a Web Architect, an eCommerce Specialist and an Entrepreneur. He is the CEO and founder of FME Extensions, a leading e-commerce web design and development agency. Over the years, FME Extensions has successfully delivered projects in Magento, WordPress, WooCommerce, Joomla and other CMS/shopping cart platforms. You can find him on LinkedIn.


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Inkbot Design is a Creative Branding Agency that is passionate about effective Graphic Design, Brand Identity, Logos and Web Design.

T: @inkbotdesign F: /inkbotdesign

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