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What to Expect from a Career in Graphic Design

What to Expect from a Career in Graphic Design

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor


Median annual earnings for graphic designers were $38,030 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $29,360 and $50,840. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,220, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $65,940. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of graphic designers were:

Architectural, engineering, and related services $42,740
Specialized design services $41,620
Advertising and related services $40,010
Printing and related support activities $32,830
Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers $32,390

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The American Institute of Graphic Arts reported 2005 median annual total cash compensation for graphic designers according to level of responsibility. Entry-level designers earned a median salary of $32,000 in 2005, while staff-level graphic designers earned $42,500. Senior designers, who may supervise junior staff or have some decision-making authority that reflects their knowledge of graphic design, earned $56,000. Solo designers, who freelanced or worked under contract to another company, reported median earnings of $60,000. Design directors, the creative heads of design firms or in-house corporate design departments, earned $90,000. Graphic designers with ownership or partnership interests in a firm or who were principals of the firm in some other capacity earned $100,000.

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