Are You Being Paid Fairly?

Salaries are a topic no one likes to talk about. Instead, we scour the internet to find out what other people make and see if our jobs are paying us fairly. A while ago I found a place online where real people actually list how much they make. It’s a great tool for people to know what others make and to potentially increase their own earnings. I found some amazing information there.

Overall, it seems that graphic designer salaries are varied, but they are somewhere in the $40,000 to $60,000 range. Here’s a bit more about what I found.

The Read Media Salaries Sheet

After a quick Google search I came across the Real Media Salaries sheet put together by RealAgencySalaries.com. It’s a collection of over 5000 real salaries, from real people across the globe (Mostly USA). It includes stats about each person’s job title, salary, location, and years of experience. It also asks for each person’s gender, race, and sexual orientation, which is a wonderful tool for discovering if race, gender, and sexual orientation are major factors in their salaries or not.

Real Media Salaries Sheet

The Salary Database

From the Real Media Salaries Sheet:

Talking about how much or how little money you make feels taboo, and it shouldn’t. Knowledge is power and Glassdoor info is hit or miss. Wouldn’t it be great to know what your peers make so you can use that to leverage a raise? Or if your company does a market adjustment yet you don’t see the data, wouldn’t it be great to know how accurate it is or isn’t? So, let’s share what we make and any relevant info to help each other learn our worth.

Now it’s not just designers who have disclosed their info here. There are account managers, social media marketers, designers of all levels, and even CEOs. But here’s a look at some of the stats of creatives who have disclosed their salary info. I’m primarily looking at salary info from the USA, as most of the data is from there. It’s also easier to compare when we’re only working with one currency.

Unfortunately, the chart itself is a bit unorganized. There are formatting issues that make it difficult to sort to see the total amount of real data even when the data is copied into something editable. I’ll do my best here to jot down some of the info, but if you’re really interested, you should check out the data for yourself.

Junior Graphic Designers

There aren’t many junior designers on the list, but the majority are female. Their salary range is from $45,000 to $60,000. This is actually better than I was expecting since junior designers are usually right out of college or have only a few years experience. The experience range here is from 1 to 5 years.

Graphic Designers/Artists

With one of the most generic job titles, there is a wide range of salary data here. The range is from $34,000 to $65,000 with a single entry of $80,000. For experience, the range is 1-16 years, with a few significantly higher.

Senior Designers

Annual salary for senior designers seem to be in the range of $45,000 to $148,000. The experience ranges from 2 to 15 years, with most around 5-8 years.

Art Directors

There are a lot of entries for Art Directors and large salary ranges within them; including both junior and senior art director titles. The salaries range from $40,000 to $150,000. That makes sense since the job title of art director isn’t restricted to designers at a certain experience level. The amount of experience here ranges from 1 year to 15, with only a few higher.

Associate Creative Directors (ACD)

There are a lot of entries to look at here, all that seem to pay well. The entries seem to be in a mix of departments though, some in art direction, some in copywriting. The range is from $75,000 to $200,000 and includes people with 4-25 years of experience, though most people have around 10 years experience.

Creative Directors

There are a ton of entries for creative directors. A few are on the lower end of what would be expected, though they appear to be from countries like Russia, Guatemala, and Mexico, where salaries would be lower in general. The general range for creative directors is from $70,000 to $250,000; with a few being a bit higher, up to $488,750. Experience is a bit higher here, as expected. The range is 3-30 years, with the average being 14 years.

Brand Managers/Strategists

There aren’t a ton of entries for brand managers, likely because it isn’t as widely used of a tittle as something like graphic designer. The entries do, however, all appear to be women. The salary range here is from $41,000 to $120,000 a year.

For brand strategists, who often do the same job as brand managers, just with a different title; the salary range is similar, although it’s not as female dominated a title. The salary range is from $50,000 to $80,000, with a single entry at $165,000. The experience range for brand managers and brand strategists is typically 3 to 17 years, with most people having 4 to 8 years of experience.

Real Designer Salaries: In Conclusion

Despite being told that we should never discuss out salaries with our coworkers, doing so helps to make sure we’re paid fairly for the work we do. This applies to all jobs, not just those in the creative field. So talk about your salary and ask for a raise if you think your salary isn’t fair. Some companies, like Buffer, are very transparent in what they pay their employees. I would love for more companies to follow their lead.

The real salary document is continually being updated, so check it out. If you want to gain real insight into what your salary should be, and how much money graphic designers make with specific stats, you’ll need to take a closer look at the data. To sort the data yourself just copy the page and paste it into a spreadsheet document like Google Sheets. Then try to filter out everyone who doesn’t match your experience level, title, and location. Don’t forget to see if the company you work for is already somewhere on the document.

The data is also posted on Instagram at @realagencysalaries so check it out there too.


Photo Credits

Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash