Income and benefits
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for graphic designers in the United States was $52,110 in May 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,810 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $89,210. The advertising, public relations and related services was the top paying industry, with a median annual wage of $54,320. This was followed by specialized design services ($54,150), newspapers, periodical book and directory publishers ($43,950) and printing and related support activities ($41,290).
Autonomy and Flexibility
When graphic designers first start out, they may find the industry very competitive. They may find themselves having to take jobs they are not particularly passionate about, or working for a big business. However, graphic designers often become freelance as they develop their skills and knowledge. When they do this, they will have autonomy over many decisions – such as which clients they will work with, how they fill their day and what software they use. They will also have the flexibility to control and plan their own schedule.
Locations and commute
According to Zippia, the best states to be a graphic designer, based on number of jobs available and average annual salary, are:
- Washington, where the average annual salary was $60,621
- Oregon, where the average annual salary was $57,809
- Massachusetts, where the average annual salary was $54,340
- New York, where the average annual salary was $52,606
- Virginia, where the average annual salary was $51,495
According to Zippia, the worst states to be a graphic designer are Arkansas, South Dakota, Mississippi, New Mexico and Wyoming.
22% of graphic designers in the United States are self-employed workers. 10% graphic designers are employed by specialized design services, 8% are employed by advertising, public relations and related services, 7% by printing and related support activities and 5% by newspapers, periodical, book and directory publishers.
In general, most graphic designers will work in studios, where they have access to drafting tables, computers and software. If graphic designers are employed by a company, they are often working as part of a design team and may have to collaborate with colleagues.