How Much Does a Graphic Designer Make a Year?

By Emily Greenhill Pierce · February 26, 2024 · 7 minute read

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How Much Does a Graphic Designer Make a Year?

If you have an interest in both art and technology, and a knack for creating distinctive visual designs, you might consider a career as a graphic designer. On average, graphic designers make anywhere from $26,500 and $89,500 a year in the U.S., according to ZipRecruiter.

How much money a graphic designer makes, however, can vary widely depending on education, experience, job location, and industry. But with a little career savvy, you can fulfill your creative passions while avoiding the role of a starving artist.

What Are Graphic Designers?

A graphic designer creates visuals to bring ideas to life. They can render their projects by hand or by using design software. Graphic designers can get paid by the hour or earn a yearly salary working for a company.

Here’s a look at some of the duties you might have as a graphic designer.

•   Designing visual marketing materials: This may include creating brand logos, websites, brochures, advertisements, packaging, and other promotional materials.

•   Targeting an audience: Graphic designers must research and understand their target audience so their product can successfully communicate a client’s message.

•   Creating and editing images: This can include both illustrations and photographs.

•   Choosing colors, layout design, and typography: A graphic designer’s mission is to deliver a product that is effective and eye-catching.

•   Staying current: Designers need to stay up to date with the latest design software and trends.

•   Maintaining deadlines: Graphic designers often need to juggle multiple projects while meeting strict deadlines.

Working as a graphic designer is generally not a job for introverts and antisocial people. While you may do a fair amount of solo design work, you’ll likely be asked to collaborate with copy editors and marketing teams, meet with clients, and present designs to co-workers and clients for feedback.

Recommended: Best Low-Stress Jobs for Introverts With Anxiety

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How Much Do Starting Graphic Designers Make a Year?

While most entry-level graphic designers won’t initially get paid $100,000 a year, it is a position that requires a specific skill set, so you’re likely to earn more than the minimum wage. The average entry level graphic designer salary in the U.S. is $59,801 as of January 26, 2024, but the range typically falls between $53,301 and $68,401.

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What is the Average Salary for a Graphic Designer?

On average, graphic designers make anywhere from $26,500 and $89,500, with the average falling at 55,951.

How much you can earn as a graphic designer ultimately depends on how much experience you have and what particular design niche you choose. For example, a lead graphic designer can make $129,541 per year, while a user interface (UI) designer can bring in as much as $159,500.

While working as a graphic designer is not one of the highest paying jobs in the U.S., those with an interest in both technology and art can find this career deeply fulfilling. The job also provides the opportunity to continually tackle new projects, keeping the work fresh and challenging.

Recommended: What Is a Good Entry Level Salary?

What is the Average Graphic Designer Salary by State?

Geographic location can influence how much money a graphic designer can make in the U.S. Here’s a look at the average graphic designer salary by state.


Average Graphic Designer Salary

Alabama $48,622
Alaska $54,797
Arizona $49,991
Arkansas $41,747
California $55,972
Colorado $53,038
Connecticut $48,933
Delaware $61,246
Florida $40,087
Georgia $45,296
Hawaii $53,016
Idaho $53,650
Illinois $48,923
Indiana $51,046
Iowa $48,668
Kansas $45,670
Kentucky $43,911
Louisiana $44,537
Maine $54,522
Maryland $59,274
Massachusetts $55,287
Michigan $43,952
Minnesota $51,011
Mississippi $48,507
Missouri $47,245
Montana $49,237
Nebraska $57,887
Nevada $51,813
New Hampshire $52,808
New Jersey $53,618
New Mexico $50,884
New York $59,198
North Carolina $45,792
North Dakota $54,025
Ohio $49,627
Oklahoma $56,060
Oregon $54,047
Pennsylvania $54,224
Rhode Island $50,061
South Carolina $46,758
South Dakota $51,059
Tennessee $47,380
Texas $53,386
Utah $47,345
Vermont $57,977
Virginia $60,192
Washington $65,386
West Virginia $41,878
Wisconsin $52,969
Wyoming $51,832

Recommended: Is a $100,000 Salary Good?

Graphic Designer Job Considerations for Pay & Benefits

Within the field of graphic design, there are a number of specialty areas you might consider. Here’s a look at some of the most common types of graphic designers.

•   Web designers specialize in creating functional and visually appealing layouts, while ensuring the design elements are user-friendly.

•   User experience (UX) designers craft the user experience of mobile apps, websites, and other products.

•   User interface (UI) designers focus on the visual, interactive elements of apps, websites, and electronic devices to create aesthetically-pleasing interfaces.

•   Illustrators create visual designs for ad campaigns, magazines, books, and other mediums. Some may specialize in medical illustrations or children’s books.

•   Print designers come up with visual images and logos for brochures, business cards, and packaging materials.

•   Identity and branding designers create visual identities for companies and products.

•   Environmental graphic designers create visual designs for physical spaces, including museums, stores, and public spaces.

•   Motion graphic designers can work on animation and moving graphics for TV and movie title sequences, how-to videos, and more.

Degree requirements: To earn competitive pay, most aspiring graphic designers will need to obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited graphic design program. You may also need some additional technical training to meet hiring qualifications for the positions listed above.

Job benefits for a salaried graphic designer can include:

•   Health insurance

•   Dental insurance

•   Vision insurance

•   Vacation/sick leave

•   Retirement plan

💡 Quick Tip: Income, expenses, and life circumstances can change. Consider reviewing your budget a few times a year and making any adjustments if needed.

Pros and Cons of Being a Graphic Designer

Every job has its pluses and minuses. Here a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of being a graphic designer.

Pros of Being a Graphic Designer

•   Creative fulfillment: Graphic designers get to stretch their artistic muscles by developing captivating visuals for their clients.

•   Good work-life balance: Salaried graphic designers typically work nine-to-five hours. Many have the opportunity to work from home.

•   Freelancing options: If you get tired of working in the same place with the same people, you can choose to freelance. Graphic design is a job you can do anywhere at any time.

•   Being part of a team: You’ll likely collaborate with design team, clients, and marketing professionals.

•   Career longevity: As long as you stay current and on top of your game, you can work as a graphic designer at any age. You could even potentially pick up freelance work as a retiree.

Cons of Being a Graphic Designer

•   Sedentary lifestyle: Being a graphic designer doesn’t require the physical demands of a trade job. You’ll spend a lot of time behind a computer monitor.

•   Solitary work stints: While it’s true you’ll have chances to work with a creative team, much of your hour-to-hour creating happens alone.

•   Stressful deadlines: Even though office hours are typically nine to five, advertising campaigns and projects have hard deadlines you’ll be expected to meet.

•   Difficult clients: Clients may be critical of what you come with, or constantly change their minds.

•   Limited advancement opportunities: Graphic designers tend to stay in their lane. However, you could be moved into a managerial position, and there is still the potential for pay raises every year.

The Takeaway

If you crave expressing yourself as a visual artist, working as a graphic designer can pay you an average of $55,951 a year for doing what you love. Being a graphic designer also allows you to work in an energetic, collaborative atmosphere, while reaping creative and financial rewards.

Whatever career path you ultimately choose, you’ll want to make sure your potential earnings can cover your everyday living expenses. Try creating a budget and check out financial tools that can help track your spending.

With SoFi, you can keep tabs on how your money comes and goes.


Can you make $100k a year as a graphic designer?

The average salary on the high end for a general graphic designer is $89,500 in the U.S.. While it’s not impossible to make $100,000, you would have to be at the top of your skill set and acquire some specialized experience.

Do people like being a graphic designer?

For many people, graphic design is a stimulating and rewarding career. Individuals who enjoy working on innovative, visual projects and collaborating with creative teams will probably like being a graphic designer.

Is it hard to get hired as a graphic designer?

Landing a job as a general graphic designer can be competitive. You may find it easier to get hired if you have a particular design specialty, such as UX (user experience), UI (user interface), or product design.

Photo credit: iStock/Moyo Studio

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