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Top Paying States for Artists and Designers



                                                    Hourly           Annual
                                                      Wage           Wage                (Mean Salary 2009)

1. District of Columbia      $24.99       $52,000       (last year’s rank: 2)
2. Rhode Island                 $19.82       $41,200       (last year’s rank: 5)
3. New York                      $19.36       $40,300       (last year’s rank: 6)
4. Arizona                        $19.22       $40,000        (last year’s rank: 10)
5. Vermont                       $18.51       $38,500       (last year’s rank: 7) 
6. Oregon                         $18.46       $38,400       (last year’s rank: n/a)
7. Minnesota                    $18.14       $37,700       (last year’s rank: 1)  
8. New Hampshire            $18.10       $37,600       (last year’s rank: n/a)
9. Wyoming                      $18.03       $37,500       (last year’s rank: n/a)
10. Nevada                         $17.67       $36,800       (last year’s rank: n/a)

Worst: Kansas $9.78 $20,300

Dropped Out of Top Ten: California (last year’s rank: 4, this year: 13), Illinois (last year’s rank: 3, this year: 12), Alaska (last year’s rank: 8, this year: 14), Michigan (last year’s rank: 9, this year: 11)

Wages & Employment Trends:
National Median wages (2009): $14.31 hourly, $29,770 annual
Employment (2008): 152,000 total U.S. employees
Projected growth (2008-2018): Average (7% to 13%)

Job Outlook

Photographers face average job growth over the next few years. Like animators, the competition for staff jobs will grow more difficult as a greater number of people learn the necessary skills to start a career. This means more will rely on their freelance/small businesses to make their career financially viable. About two-thirds of all photographers are currently self-employed.

While web versions of media websites grow in scope and size, most future demand for professional photos might come from personal sites and small businesses. As a result, digital images will grow in importance. As photographers move their inventory to the web, they will also be able to decrease their reliance on stock photo sites.

But technology also might remove long-standing photography jobs. News organizations are increasingly emphasizing the timeliness of real-time photos over professional compositions. Full-time staff photographers are becoming a rare occurrence.

The top-paying metropolitan areas for photographers for the latest employment data are: Salinas, CA ($37.50 hourly mean, $78,000 annual mean); Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA ($30.82 hourly mean, $64,110 annual mean); New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division ($27.72 hourly mean, $57,660 annual mean); and Ann Arbor, MI ($27.51 hourly mean, $57,230 annual mean).

Find out how to go from a photographer hobbyist to a real professional right here. (Updated October 4, 2010)

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