This is how much designers really earn

Our fourth installment of the Designer Salary Survey is online now.

Look at the results and add your own info. The more responses the better.

Time to go have a little talk with my boss. That’s total BS.

My four-year review is up next week. Should be making more, which leads me to this little epiphany:

In order to make great gains in salary, you have to jump positions. That way you make 15-25% salary increases rather than 2-3% increases (those are almost a slap in the face. That barely covers the increase in gas prices.)

I’m pissed. :angry:

I would like to see how old the respondents are, average age, young, and old, a mean would be great too. Mean salary would also be nice too! Thanks for the poll!

age no good. years experience is. [dont need numbers to stay archived]

Dang dude. Wish I could be in the 70’s in two years’ time. Four years of good experience and only pushing 44 right now. That sucks. And if age actually matters (it doesn’t), I’m 26. Need 55 to cover my toy costs.


The numbers seem kind of high to me. Even in my region where typically the cost of living is higher and thus the salaries. Still seems high.

I agree completely…five years, four employers, and slightly above the average. But every employer I had to negotiate more out’ve them…had I stayed with my first company I would have been making about $17K less than now. But, the middle two companies sucked, hated work for 2 1/2 years straight.

Sucks for everyone who is being underpaid, so either enjoy the security/being comfortable or move on and take a risk with another company.

:confused: i guess my bitching for a raise that will be forthcoming might be null and void. i seem to be above the midwest average. all the corn in illinois is killing me though and i’m in the mood to shed the construction/heavy equipment industry and roll out west. any thoughts from the west coast designers? ie cost of living, job security, etc? mebbe i should stay put and await another crappy winter.

buried in corn

The lows surprised me. The mids and highs are right.

What’s with this trend of designers bitching that they aren’t paid what they’re worth, and simultaneously fearful (or even angry) that we’re charging “too much?!”

So I am at my first full time job. I am at the very bottom of the scale-- like low low. But my job is awesome and I have great benefits. Also, I work for a very small company that pays for everything- has fun parties- and I have a lot of freedom. Sometimes you have to count your blessings… designers are so greedy.

On the flip side- if you hate your job and you get treated poorly all the time, maybe you should be getting more money.

I have great benefits

That’s part of your pay. Think about what it would cost you if the company didn’t pay for that stuff. You’re making more than you think.

i can’t help but notice that the salaries are trending down since 2001…may be due to # of respondents each year but it is notable don’t you think…


i can’t help but notice that the salaries are trending down since 2001…may be due to # of respondents each year but it is notable don’t you think…

That’s in every industry not just design. Read the newspapers. Its been in the news for quite some time.

i have no idea how you designers feel about your talents here in the US. Why it’s no wonder why all the idustries are going out to other contries. I’ve been to a few IDSA meetings and i feel they are all pompus and just plain ego trips. I am currently an idustrial designer making my independent ways threw freelance and manufacturing assistance. The only thing i have to say to younger designers fresh to the industry is, don’t get caught up in egos, inter-office politics, and don’t bitch about salaries right away. A good designer will shine threw, if you do what you like and like what you do, with some talent as well. Money will come. Just work, practice and be patient.

They should have put the years experience beside the salary amount. I have been doign graphic design for 3 years and make 45K. My first job aout of school I was offered 29K

I think the survey is too vague. Why isn’t it broken down more? For example: Environmental graphic design, architecture, exhibit designers, etc? Also age and years experience?


I’m here in USA… but I’m not from here.
I have a h1 visa… you can see the difference…

My first salary here in the USA = 19K
age = 27
years of experience (at tha time)= 7

my actual salary here in the USA = $1000 / mo (working 3 days a week)
age = 29
years of experience (right now)= 9

isn’t it sad?

The worst thing is, everyone looks so happy with the projects that i’ve done… they always tell me I’m so good… (makes me doubt about it…) Why can’t I get a good job? What’s wrong???

I guess this will change a little when I get my residence… but… I don’t know If I’ll be depressed and frustrated enough to still want to be a designer.

good luck to you all.

:neutral_face: :cry:

This seems to be the case in a lot of places- I know one corporation that basically only gives a meaningful raise to their designers when they come to the design director with an offer from another company, and this only works so many times over the years. This is not the way management should work, it breeds discontent and turnover. Its the job of management to keep tabs on pay- design dept. heads should all be directed to this survey.

I’m self employed so its hard to say what I make a year, the company foots the bill for a lot of things I normally would pay out of pocket if I was an employee. Its certainly below the median for my region but the other rewards working for yourself balance things out.

This is a good point. Knowing more specifics would help. My first ID job paid $400 a week, plus benfits and bonuses. It was in the toy industry for a leading toy invention and design company.

I left and got a 10k increase to move from Chicago (my home town) to Dallas as an exhibit designer. By my 4th year in exhibit design, I was making 67k. I left my my full time job and started my own company. My salary is even better now.

All ego aside, designers need to learn more about business, and stop thinking they are valuable just because they are designers. Its not always about designing the world. Most corporatations and those we are designing for, have little understanding about the value of design or the process. It is our job, to explain the value in terms people understand - which is dollars and cents.

Show as a designer, how what you do is valuable, do it by talking dollars and cents. You may then, find yourself on top of the pay scale.