Design Week Salary Survey – what you need to know

What’s the average salary for a designer? Where in the country would you earn the most and which sectors are the best remunerated? Find out with the results of the 2015 Design Week Salary Survey.

Image by flickr user JD Mack
Image by flickr user JD Mack

Vital statistics

  • The average salary for designers in the UK is £33,443
  • Freelance designers earn more than those working for consultancies, while designers working in-house earn the least.
  • Designers working for networked consultancies earn more than those working for independent groups
  • Interior design is the best-paid sector, followed retail and branding. Editorial design is the lowest-paid sector
  • Men earn more than women, while designers working overseas command the highest salaries. Salaries in London outstrip the rest of the UK.

How much does the average designer earn?

More than 1,500 designers from across the country working in a variety of sectors have been surveyed for the 2015 Design Week creative survey.

The results show that the average salary for a designer is £33,443. Men earn 17 per cent more than women, with the average male designer commanding a salary of £35,809 – while his female equivalent earns £30,733.

This far outstrips the average national gender pay gap, which currently stands at 9.4 per cent, according to the most recent Office for National Statistics figures.

Designers working overseas command the highest salaries – an average of £41,324. In the UK, salaries in London outstrip the rest of the country. The average designer in London earns £36,791. The lowest salaries are in Northern Ireland – an average of £21,818.

Area East Midlands East of England London N. Ireland North East North West Overseas Scotland
Average salary (£) 30,599 27,653 36,791 21,818 24,766 27,279 41,324 29,643
Area South East (excluding London) South West Wales West Midlands Yorkshire & Humberside
Average salary (£) 32,795 28,781 24,554 25,361 26,642

Where should you work to get paid the most?

Freelance designers earn, on average, more than those on staff. The average salary for a freelance designer is £34,659. A designer working for a consultancy earns on average £33,680, while designers working in-house have the lowest average salaries – £31,587.

In the consultancy world, designers working for networked consultancies earn more than those at independent studios. The average salary for a designer at a networked consultancy is £35,480, while the average salary at an independent consultancy is £33,364.

Interior design is the highest-paid sector, with designers working in interiors earning an average of £37,817. Editorial design is the lowest-paid sector, with editorial designers earning an average of £27,237.

Discipline Advertising Architecture Branding Digital Direct Marketing Editorial Exhibitions
Average salary (£) 30,833 28,333 36,998 32,123 31,905 27,237 36,667
Discipline Furniture Graphics Interior Packaging Print Product Retail Other
Average salary (£) 30,500 30,078 37,817 33,836 29,771 35,038 37,550 35,430

What will you earn at different stages of your career?

The spread of average salaries in the design sector ranges from junior art workers, who get paid an average salary of £18,000, to chief executives, who receive an average of £88,750.

Job title Junior artworker Middleweight artworker Senior artworker Junior designer Middleweight designer Senior designer
Average salary (£) 18,000 26,167 31,400 19,727 26,766 36,281
Job title Design director Strategy director Creative director Executive creative director Managing director Chief executive
Average salary (£) 47,005 63,250 52,857 82,188 65,395 88,750


Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 12.51.36

How much should you be earning? Find out with the Design Week Salary Calculator here.

Latest articles