2014 Graphic Design Salary + Hiring Trends

It’s a timeless and burning career question: How does my salary stack up? Luckily, you can find the answer in The Creative Group’s 2014 Salary Guide. It features starting salary ranges for more than 125 positions in the interactive, design and marketing fields, along with big-picture salary and hiring trends.

Graphic Design Hiring + Salary Trends

And there’s good news for designers! Organizations are tapping freelancers more often (and for longer periods) and filling more full-time positions, too. Employers are also showing talented candidates the money. Overall, starting salaries in 2014 are expected to be 3.3 percent higher than 2013 levels.

A Positive Hiring Environment

Despite lukewarm news headlines about the state of the U.S. economy, a full 52 percent of advertising and marketing executives said it’s challenging to find skilled creative professionals. They’re hiring freelancers to gain access to specialized skills – everything from mobile development to in-depth production knowledge – and to meet changing business demands.

Hiring is especially robust among agencies. As the media landscape changes, brands are rushing to keep up, and they’re turning to agencies for help. Those agencies, in turn, are seeking candidates with both creative and technical skills.

Graphic Design Salary TrendsBecause it’s so hard to find the right talent, many employers are open to salary negotiations when they identify a strong potential hire. Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of advertising and marketing executives surveyed by The Creative Group said they’re “very willing” to negotiate salary, while another 40 percent are “somewhat willing.”

Design Positions on the Rise

It’s no surprise that digital jobs are in demand and well paid. But there’s plenty of upward salary movement among traditional design and production positions, too.

Experience counts. Creative directors with more than eight years of experience can expect a 5 percent raise over 2013 starting salary levels. Those with five to eight years of experience will see a 4.1 percent increase.

Meanwhile, art directors with three to five years of experience will see base pay rise 3.9 percent. Production directors with eight or more years of experience will see a 4.7 percent gain.

Another title that beat the average? Project managers. New hires can expect a bump of 4.7 percent in their paychecks in 2014.

Graphic Design Salary Trends

How to Impress Hiring Managers

Design jobs are out there, and pay is up. But how do you land that position in the first place? Most hiring managers look for a handful of key characteristics.

First, companies prize experience. Many employers are recruiting creative professionals with at least three years of professional work on their resume; though, in some cases, they’ll consider new grads with strong portfolios and stellar soft skills.

Tech chops turn the heads of hiring managers, too. Social media skills matter, even if you’re applying for a traditional print design job. And if you hope to move into digital, knowledge of CSS3, HTML5 and Adobe Creative Suite is becoming a must.

Finally, you’ll stand out to employers if you’re familiar with analytics. The rise of big data means companies need people who can use those numbers to spot trends and drive creative strategies.

Get Informed + Go for the Graphic Design Salary You Want

The real message in the 2014 Salary Guide: It’s a good time to be a designer. If you want to know more, download your free copy of the The Creative Group 2014 Salary Guide at creativegroup.com/salary-center.


Looking to do more interactive design work? It’s not too late to experience the 2013 HOW Interactive Design Conference November 5-7 in Chicago. You’ll spend 3 days learning from the best minds in the biz, so you’re up-to-date with the skills you need to know!