Breaking the 6 figure mark in Graphic Design/ Art direction

What road do u have to take to get this accomplished? after 5 years out of school I’m making close to 50K, but raises as small as 2-4% a year won’t bring me to 6 figures.

Please don’t post stuff like, " Damm just be glad you got a gig!"

I work damm hard to make it where I’m at. I study the game and in the same time learn from people with more experience.

I know creative directors in certain top design houses make over 6 figures but I’m interested in hearing from other sources.

I heard to make 6 figures you have to constantly be moving jobs every 3-5 years. Other say specialize in other things like managerial or branch out to web and motion graphics. Or is it at the freelance end.

Just want to hear how the people making the big bucks got there.

I haven’t broken six figures, and I’m in ID, but to get subtantial increases in pay, you have to:

1)jump to another company and ensure you get a nice jump (I got well over 20% last time) makesure you have multiple offers that will help you increase your value.

  1. interview and get offers, take these to your current manager and see if your company will match to keep you.

  2. work at a large company that will allow you to move around internally and have plenty of room to be promoted.

Now that I have given away the store I feel I should way in with the old money doesn’t mean anything if you are in a job that you hate (true as can be for sure)

Also take into account your cost of living. In my last move, my pay went up that nice percentage I mentioned earlier, and in moving to a new part of the country, my cost of living went down about 25%. We where able to build a house, my wife took a year off and then opened her own business. So you got to look at the total package. Before I accepted this job, another company offered me OVER 6 figures, but it was for a compaqny I didn’t think I would be happy at in one of the most expensive parts of the country. Where I am a 2,000 sq ft house spec built with lots of options costs about $250k, there it would have been about $750k, so that $110k paycheck would have felt like $50k 0r $60k.

Hi Yo,

You said you got an offer OVER 6 figures, was that part in the bay area?

I am making 40k right now and will interview places in the bay area soon. I wonder what to ask, you know the average house price in where i live is like 120k, dirt cheap. So even if I get a 25% jump in this new area, it’s like a pay cut, is it? What to ask? Thanks.

It was in Santa Barbra, just as bad.

There are a few factors to take into consideration:

Bay area = uber high cost of living, probably triple what you pay now. So triple your 40k salary to about $120k

Now consider this:

Bay Area = large out of work design population all competing for same jobs, and I would lop 25 - 50% off that last number and ask between $60 and $80k.

Just a total rough guess, not knowing your skills or experience, but you want to get as much as you can up front, cause once you are in you most likely will get like 3% raises.

The question now becomes will your 3% raise annually be the same with the industry rate. For instance you put in 10 years at a 3% raise but does that amount equal to a 10 year experience design professional. Probobly Not. I hate to say this but your definitely right in terms of moving around and jumping 10-20% raises each time.

hey yo, i got one offer. damn it’s only like 50g. it’s like i am taking a pay cut to move there, i mean compare the living cost…

If you want to make 6 figures then get out of graphic design or get into managment. Very few designers are making 6 figures (unless they live in the S.F. area, and then 6 figures isn’t all that much.)

You can start your own firm. Many do make in the 6 figure area but you will be doing lots of managment too.

ID pays more than Graphic Design so don’t compare compesation.

just broke 6 figures, but I work for a corp. design in NYC. Big company, been internally promoted several times in the ID dept. Cost of living is crazy here, so + 100 k is about what you need to make just to keep a decent living.

2 words: ad agency