The Worth of a Designer
hat’s the big question. What is the full-time, gainfully employed graphic designer salary? What are the late nights, constant rejection, and need for continuous creativity actually worth?
When you start out in graphic design, the pay often sucks. It did for me anyway, as I wasn’t making much more than minimum wage. Even after ten years of experience the pay wasn’t anything special. I think I was making around $42,000 a year in 2013. I was also living In Vancouver at the time, making this very close to the minimum for a living wage. Fortunately, my salary did increase over the next few years, but it was still below where it should have been for my experience and title.
If you want me to throw a quick number at you, graphic designers make about $45,000 on average, though this amount varies a lot by job title and country.
Here’s a more in-depth look at the salary ranges of graphic designers in Canada and around the world.
Designer Salary (Canada)
Neuvoo.ca lists the average graphic designer salary, in Canada, at $49,000, though this number is constantly changing.
This figure is based on just over a thousand different designer job postings from all over Canada (So this number will be constantly changing). Since this is the average, it would include all levels of experience, from junior to senior designers. That sounds accurate, but what’s the range? How does the salary of a junior graphic designer compare to the salary of a senior designer?
Neuvoo also gives a range of $27,300, for an entry-level designer, to $77,773, for experienced senior designers.
That entry-level salary is almost bang-on what I was making when I was a new designer, although that was almost fifteen years ago. In Canada, the province with the highest average salary for graphic designers is Alberta, followed by Ontario, then BC. Graphic designers in New Brunswick appear to have the lowest average salaries.
To find out how much you could make after tax, Neuvoo.ca has a handy calculator for that too.
So what about graphic designer salaries outside of North America or in higher up design positions? Let’s find out.
Designer Salaries (International)
Shillington, an international design educational institution has curated a list of average graphic designer salaries from all over the world. Check out their site for all the info. Here’s a breakdown of the salary info from them for 2019.
Graphic Designer Salaries in New York City:
$43,317 for a junior graphic designer
$71,127 for a senior designer
$121,430 for design directors
Graphic Designer Salaries in London, England:
£22,209 for a junior graphic designer
£39,968 for a senior graphic designer
£60,000 for a design director
Graphic Designer Salaries in Manchester, England:
£18,905 for a junior graphic designer
£28,937 for a senior graphic designer
£53,149 for a design director
Graphic Designer Salaries in Australia:
$48,376 for a junior graphic designer
$79,573 for a senior graphic designer
$142,918 for a design director
Graphic Designer Salary: In Conclusion
In general, a graphic designer salary ranges quite a bit depending on your level of experience and your location. In addition, you’ll probably never get rich working for someone as a full-time graphic designer. You’ll make a decent living, but that’s about it.
The best thing you can do to to try to earn more money is to keep learning and improving your skills. Make your portfolio look better each year. Add a new designer-adjacent skills like 3D design, illustration, or photography. Ask for raises, for more responsibility, and keep leveling up.
Eventually, maybe you’ll max out your skills and become chief designer or creative director. Lastly, maybe avoid being a graphic designer in Vancouver.
Check out the Real Media Salaries Sheet to see what real designers around the world are actually making.