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The average salary in the design field looks strong for the years ahead. Student work by Julie Finch.

Design Career Guide

Design Career and Salary Outlook

Steve Jobs, co-founder and former CEO of Apple, once said: “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Today, thanks to the design and technology innovations of the last thirty years, design is regarded as a serious and rewarding career option. Whether you aspire to create great logos, stunning Web sites, or innovative products, a career in design can mean not just a creative field but also stability, professional recognition, and compensation.

Looking for proof? Check out the following design career and salary statistics, compiled from authoritative design industry sources.

U.S. Design Career Statistics and Salaries

These are statistics for full-time or freelance employment in design fields in the United States.

  • Employment of graphic designers is expected to grow 13 percent from 2010 to 2020 as demand for graphic design continues to increase from advertisers and computer design firms (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • According to the American Institute of Graphic Arts, solo designers who freelanced or worked under contract to another company reported median earnings of $62,000-$65,000 in 2013 (Source: AIGA 2013 Salary Survey)
  • The median salary for an entry level print designer has been increasing by the year, and is now at a strong $38,000. For an entry level Web/interactive designer, the median recorded salary is $45,000 (Source: AIGA 2013 Salary Survey)
  • The median salary for Web developers (front end/interface systems) in 2013 was $65,000. (Source: AIGA 2013 Salary Survey)
  • The median salary for in-house creative directors in 2013 was $85,000. (Source: AIGA 2013 Salary Survey)
  • In 2012, California and New York offered the highest levels of employment in the field of graphic design, while Washington D.C. boasted the highest-paid graphic designers (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Average Web designer salaries for job postings in 2013 were 20% higher than average salaries for all job postings nationwide (Source:
  • Median annual wages for graphic designers were $43,500 in May 2010 and the highest 10% earned more than $76,910 (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition)
  • Employment for graphic designers in the area of computer systems design is expected to grow by 61% between now and 2020 (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition)
  • Since 2006, the need for design management positions has increased, reflected by an earnings increase of roughly 10%. Salaries for interaction/UX designers have increased by more than 13%. (Source: Coroflot Design Salary Guide 2011)

Design Salary Information Sources

There are many reputable sources to perform your own research of design career and salary opportunities. Our favorite sources include: