Design Salary Survey Reflects Steady Volume But Narrow Margins

The Survey of Design Salaries, conducted by AIGA and Aquent, is eleven years old, a history that gives us a handy way to track designer compensation trends over time. But this year, the organizations decided to temporarily lessen that historical value by revising the survey’s position titles and descriptions, making it more difficult to compare apples to apples. However, the change was necessary to accurately reflect industry changes; for example, new positions include Web Content Strategist and Social Media/Online Community Manager.
More than 7,000 design professionals in 34 major metropolitan areas across the United States filled out the most recent survey. Their responses show that salaries were largely flat in the past year. According to Richard Grefé, AIGA’s executive director, “many design firms consider themselves as busy as ever,” but salaries have been held down for several years because “margins are narrower than in the past. There are indications that firms are busy because they have not replaced workers who had been released during the deeper start of the recession.”
More bad news: Design students, your immediate future does not look rosy. Grefé notes that “approximately 12,000 students of communication design will graduate from four-year programs each year, more than can be absorbed into the current workforce”.
So is there any good news? Yes, for freelancers. The need to rein in the number of full-time design staff means that more work is going to freelance and contractors.
Click here to see all the survey results, including hourly and daily rates for a wide variety of positions.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am not from America but in here (a certain South East Asian country), the pay rate for a freelance project is pretty good and usually i would get around 3-4 projects each month from several companies. However, as the article said, the number of designers are blooming while there are no more space for inexperience students who just graduated from schools. Not really rosy future indeed.

    Best regards,
    lacey duvalle

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