Designers are commanding huge wage rises as they reap the dividends of a skills shortage across the industry.
Salaries are up on average by a massive 26 per cent nationally and 27 per cent in London, according to Design Week’s latest annual salary survey of 350 UK groups.
Creative directors at London consultancies have enjoyed the biggest leap – a 30 per cent increase to just over 50 000 from 38 500 compared with a national average of 45 640.
Senior, middleweight and junior designers’ salaries have increased by 28, 29 and 28 per cent, taking them up to an average of 29 074, 21 287 and 14 605 respectively.
Freelances are also prospering, commanding an average of 22.40 per hour, with packaging designers earning the top rate of 24.92 per hour. The numbers of freelances used by London groups rose dramatically by 27 per cent.
Allison Miguel, creative director at Coley Porter Bell, says designers deserve the better pay.
“I feel that designers have been exploited a lot in the past. They are thinking designers – thinking strategically about brands as well as doing the actual design.”
She adds that salaries are also kept high because consultancies are worried about staff being lured away by high freelance rates and higher paid jobs abroad.
“Demand is exceeding supply,” says Ian Cochrane of management consultancy Ticegroup, which specialises in the design sector.
“[Companies] are having to put up the salaries and pull people out of other jobs,” he adds. But he predicts that further rises will be curbed by a diminution in design industry confidence as general business confidence falls.
“The signs are now that it’s starting to tail off – on a bigger national scale – and with the design industry feeling less confident,” he adds.
Cochrane’s concerns are echoed by Design House managing director Lavinia Culverhouse, who does not expect such rises this year. The design industry may soon feel the economic downturn, she believes, and Design House is adopting a cautious approach until it sees how clients’ budgets will be affected.
See Salary Survey, page 17