Graphic Designer Salary Overview

Graphic designerGraphic designers -or graphic artists - find the most effective way to get messages across in print and electronic media using color, type, illustration, photography, animation, and various print and layout techniques. Employment is expected to grow about as fast as the average, with many new jobs associated with interactive media (BLS).

Starting salary range

Starting graphic designer salaries range from $29,641 (North Dakota) to $37,843 (District of Columbia)*.

Average salary

A graphic designer's median salary is $50,745 and maximum graphic designer salaries top out at over 94,000**. Large companies tend to pay more than smaller firms, according to Payscale's Median Salary by Company Size Charts

Opportunities for advancement

Graphic designers can advance to supervisory and management roles with additional experience. Some graphic designers start private graphic design firms where their salary will depend on profitability of their small business. Others may teach design classes at a variety of educational institutions including high schools, trade schools, private adult education schools, online schools, community colleges, and universities.

Graphic designers with a few years of experience may consult or contract. Some graphic designers will consult or contract full time, while others will pick up side jobs as supplemental income. Typically the hourly consulting/contracting can be higher paying alternatives, though those options typically don't include benefits.

Benefits and perks

Paid time off, health care, pension, education reimbursement, sick days, insurance, bonus, and taxes increase the total compensation package by an average 27.5%**, bringing the median total graphic designer compensation to $103,629.

Salary negotiation tips

Negotiating salary can be tricky. Large companies typically set up a salary range (or salary band), so the organization will have a little room to move on salaries (about 5-10%). Smaller firms are less likely to have as much wiggle room on salary. Either way, don't expect an employer to give you a higher salary just because you ask. Instead, prepare a well documented justification and stay within the organization's salary range for the specific position so you'll have a good chance at getting the salary increase you're targeting.

Your greatest ability to negotiate salary is when you have options. Interview with a number of companies. In addition, do your homework – get salary information online with AOL Jobs Salary Center or from staffing and recruiting firms in your industry. Sometimes just having research on average salaries for your local market may provide rationale for a higher salary.

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