Entry Level Salary Rates

I wanted to ask if anyone knows the current entry level salary rates for Industrial Design. I may have a job prospect but I feel they are asking too low. They are asking for between $30-$35k. This is close to what I got when I interned. Although this position is actually intended for graphic designer the company wanted to use my skills in CAD programs, packaging, dimensional drawings, and 3D renderings.

I know the economy has been very tough and I don’t want to seem to be picky since I need to start gaining more experience. So far I have graduated from school about a year ago. I have interned and freelance for the past 6 months. If anyone has any suggestions, I would gladly appreciate it!

Where is the job?

it’s in Nashville TN

That seems awfully low. Adjusted for inflation my not very glamorous starting pay in KC was about $40k, during the '02-'03 recession.

I am asking because every country and city is of course different.
It does sound low, however, compared to what the statistics here in Sweden say, it’s pretty much what one can expect here for an entry level design gig. The biggest and most reliable survey says $34000 before taxes.
It’s quite grim as Sweden will hit you hard with taxes as well. I am not sure how high the taxes are in TN.

Too low.

Hold on. Your title is “Graphic designer”, right? That’s what I’m assuming from your description of the job. If so, then this sounds about right for entry level… graphic designers get paid very very very little. The other factor is: big company? small firm?

yes the title is graphic design. And I figure it’s lower also for graphic design. The company has about 100-200 employees.

At a certain point you cant worry about what other people are making. you need to figure out what your expenses will be if you take the job. is this salary enough for you to pay your bills and live your life? Will you be happy doing this job even if its graphic design rather than industrial design? if you answer yes to both of these questions take the job and dont worry about what other people are getting paid. if the answer is no to either question turn down the job.

Negotiate for $40k. If they won’t go for that, walk. $30k is practically poverty wages and totally unacceptable for skilled, complex work. BTW I’m assuming you have a decent portfolio.

Although awkward, especially for a first time/entry level job you can try to negotiate salary. They want to get you for as little as possible, that’s just business. You need to figure out what is comfortable for you and ask for that. You can say you’re very interested in the job, but $X amount seems fair especially since you’re bring more to the table then just graphic design skills. They might not go for the amount you asked but could go up from their offer. If they don’t go up at all it’s your call to go for it or walk away but I don’t think they would say never mind and take away their offer.

Anyone know when the latest coroflot design salary results are coming in? It’s been a while. (I know there is a lot of info to comb through)

It’s not a great salary, but in TN that would probably still cover your rent for a apartment and most expenses. If you look at a cost of living calculator $35k in Nashville ends up being close to $65k if you were living in New York.

And I can tell you that an entry level graphic designer does not make $65k in NY.

Exactly what I was going to say. I know people in Portland starting out making under $30k! Of course, these are not glamourous positions, but sometimes you just have to start somewhere. And I’m going to assume Nashville COL is pretty low, you might have to roommate it for a year or two, but remember this is the start not the finish.

Graphic designers at low end is not a very well paid proffession.

CAD monkey on the other hand should earn more than that. If your being paid to do that then should earn more. Might be worth negotatiing a little uplift and saying out right that you want to talk in 6 months say about how the role is going balance of responsibilities as you may be doing lots of CAD. Either way its a good way to leverage pay.

Sadly to get a largish pay increase you often have to move companies and starting low can be a problem in that case.

I know people in Portland starting out making under $30k!

Wow. In 2011. That’s sad.

To True. My starting Salary was $32k in 1998 in Connecticut. COL in Connecticut is considerably higher than Portland or Nashville, but still. I would think $35k for a professional would be the absolute low.

The fact that you said the job was “asking 30-35k” sounds a bit odd to me.

The job doesn’t “ask” anything. You as an tentative employee can ask for salary requirements. And they can offer $30k. At which point you can try to negotiate higher. They will either tell you no, or if they have another candidate willing to work at that price go with them, or they may consider bumping the pay.

There’s a million variables to what you are worth. I know plenty of graduates with incredibly weak portfolios that would probably jump at any creative gig that was paying more than minimum wage these days. If you think you are more talented than that and deserve more, it may be a matter of you need to look elsewhere.

Still, there’s no better time to look for a job than when you have one. It’s nice to have that paycheck coming in.

Did you ask about raises?

The company may want to hedge. They could offer $5K at 6 months and 1 year to make sure there is a good fit. I wouldn’t say no to that.

But then again, they could be a strict 3% annual raise company. In that case, I would think hard about opportunities for growth.

I disagree here. GDers can be paid pretty well depending on what you are doing and where you are working. Doing layouts for a magazine? Yes you will make a low wage. Working at a top branding agency working on big brand? You will make pretty decent money.

A CAD jockey on the other hand… I can hire someone to do CAD work from vocational program. You don’t need an ID degree to operate CAD. Now you do bring more to the table with your education given your understanding of products and design, but if you are going for a position in a GD firm as and ID doing CAD work then you are going to make the salary of a CAD Monkey. The bar is set at a particular salary for the task, and given the situation, and level that is what you are going to get paid.

That being said…I still think you should take the job. Given the economy being in the toilet, you have to take what you can get. If you don’t like it after a year you can move one. Also with this position you will gain great experience (depending on the firm) in branding and graphic design. These are skills that we as Industrial Designers, struggle to gain given that most ID houses don’t focus on them.

Edit: My first job I made $36K in NJ…

I think it’s all relative. I live in Australia and started on $45K, and after a year went to $50K but we pay more for everything.

Fuel is $1.50 AUD a litre, houses are the most overpriced in the world and anything electronic (made in china designed in US) or made anywhere else overseas, you can add from 10% to 100% to the price. For example iPad 2 16Gb Wifi is $499 is the US but $579 here and our dollar is sitting at 106 US cents.

If you can afford to pay rent, save a bit of money and not dress like a hobo, you will survive a few years there. Go for a big pay rise your first year though, because the employer will probably be worried about losing you if you’re good.