The Creative Group 2017 Designer Salary Guide

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Whether you’re an entry-level graphic designer or experienced art director, knowing what the future holds can help you make decisions about your career. What’s the creative hiring environment like? What are the must-have skills in the workplace? And, more importantly, how does your current designer salary stack up with the average range in your city? If you’re curious, you should check out The Creative Group Salary Guide.


For almost two decades, this respected publication has informed, enlightened and guided professionals working in design, marketing and advertising. The recently released 2017 guide gives you a look at who’s hiring, hot specialties, staffing patterns, the local forecast and longer-term predictions.

Ready to see what’s in store for creative professionals?

Designer jobs and salaries heating up

The forecast is bright and sunny for designers, according to this year’s The Creative Group Salary Guide. The unemployment rate in the industry is below the national average, and companies are hiring more full-time and freelance designers as they ramp up branding and marketing efforts. This increased need for creative talent has resulted in a hot job market where skilled designers hold the cards.

But staffing open positions isn’t always so easy to do for employers. Research published in The Creative Group Salary Guide shows 41 percent of advertising and marketing executives surveyed say it’s challenging to find creative talent today.

What does all this mean for you? If you nail the creative job interview and get an offer, employers may be more open to negotiating a higher designer salary or perks to get you to sign on.


Hot hybrids

It takes a wide range of design and technical skills to keep up with industry trends in today’s fast-moving climate. In response, creative agencies and in-house departments increasingly seek well-rounded professionals who have knowledge outside their specialty area. As an example, skilled UX designers are in demand; if they also understand the business strategy behind branding, their resumes could well rise to the top of the heap.

Employers will pay a top designer salary, but they expect value, which comes in the form of worker versatility. Expect greater cross-departmental collaboration, especially with IT, as management breaks down silos and encourages staff members to partner on projects and key business initiatives.

Where the jobs are

After surveying executives and examining the hiring landscape, The Creative Group Salary Guide found the greatest demand for creative professionals in these four sectors:

  • High-tech
  • Healthcare/pharmaceutical
  • Financial
  • Retail

Whenever possible, get practical experience in these fields to boost your chances of a successful job search.

Experience pays

While entry-level creatives are landing good jobs, the designer salary range for experienced professionals is higher, especially for roles requiring more technical skills. Here’s a sampling of starting compensation from The Creative Group Salary Guide.

  • Graphic designer (1-3 years): $39,750–$56,750
  • Graphic designer (5+ years): $67,500–$93,000
  • Package designer: $59,500–$91,000
  • Visual designer: $66,000–$99,250
  • Front-end web developer (3+ years): $80,000–$119,500
  • Web designer (5+ years): $83,250–$118,000
  • Interaction designer (5+ years): $88,250–$124,500
  • UX designer (1–3 years): $52,000–$79,500
  • UX designer (5+ years): $92,750–$138,000

But experience is sometimes hard to come by. To impress hiring managers and get the designer salary you’re looking for, it can be a good idea to freelance or work with a specialized staffing agency to build up your resume and portfolio.

The Creative Group Salary Guide is clear about one thing in particular: The forecast is bright for creative professionals with an in-demand combination of skills, business knowledge and industry experience.

fxchbdfqhs5epv9uknvqLooking to boost your salary? Earn a certificate in UX Design or Web Development from HOW Design University to expand your job prospects.