What makes for a happy designer?

Who are the happiest designers in the country? Where do they work and what are their specialisms? Find out with the 2015 Design Week Salary Survey.

Image by flickr user Ged Carroll
Image by flickr user Ged Carroll

Who are the happiest designers in the country? According to the 2015 Design Week Salary Survey its male chief executives of product design consultancies working in the North East.

And the unhappiest? Female exhibition design artworkers working overseas.

The 2015 Design Week Salary Survey saw more than 1,500 designers quizzed about their salaries as well as their work environments and attitudes to work.

The results showed that male designers were slightly happier that female designers. A total of 15 per cent of male designers described themselves as “very happy”, compared to 14.7 per cent of female designers. Meanwhile 8.5 per cent of female designers said they were “not very happy at all” in their jobs, compared to 6.1 per cent of male designers.

The North East is the happiest area for designers, with 34.4 per cent of designers in the region describing themselves as “very happy”. Next happiest are the East of England and the East Midlands, with 22.4 per cent and 21.1 per cent respectively describing themselves as “very happy”.

The least happy designers are those working overseas – 10.9 per cent of whom described themselves as “not very happy at all”. Other unhappy areas are Wales – with 10.7 per cent – and the South East – with 9 per cent.

Area East Midlands East of England London N. Ireland North East North West Overseas
Not very happy at all 4.2% 6.1% 8.0% 0.0% 0.0% 3.9% 10.9%
Quite unhappy 12.7% 16.3% 18.0% 18.2% 12.5% 18.6% 20.2%
Indifferent 22.50% 22.4% 17.6% 18.2% 12.5% 15.7% 21.0%
Quite happy 39.4% 32.7% 42.9% 63.6% 40.6% 46.1% 32.8%
Very happy 21.1% 22.4% 13.4% 0.0% 34.4% 15.7% 15.1%
Area Scotland South East (excluding London) South West Wales West Midlands Yorkshire & Humberside
Not very happy at all 6.1% 9.0% 4.1% 10.7% 6.0% 4.5%
Quite unhappy 22.4% 23.1% 17.4% 10.7% 18.1% 17.9%
 Indifferent 28.6% 20.8% 19.8% 17.9% 25.3% 13.4%
Quite happy 28.6% 31.6% 43.0% 46.4% 41.0% 47.8%
Very happy 14.3% 15.6% 15.7% 14.3% 9.6% 16.4%

It seems in design that the more senior you are, the happier you become, with chief executives by far the happiest in the studio. A whopping 62.5 per cent of chief executives who responded to the survey said they are “very happy”, with the remainder saying they are “quite happy”.

Creative directors were the next-happiest, with 37.5 per cent saying they are “very happy” and just 1.8 per cent saying they are “not very happy at all”.

Senior artworkers are the least happy in their roles, according to the survey, with 16 per cent of those surveyed saying they are “not very happy at all”. Middleweight artworkers are also discontented, with 13.3 per cent saying they are “not very happy at all”.

Job title Chief Executive or Chairman Managing Director Executive Creative Director Creative Director Strategy Director   Strategist
Not very happy at all 0.0% 0.0% 12.5% 1.8% 10.0%
Quite unhappy 0.0% 15.8% 25.0% 14.3% 10.0%
Indifferent 0.0% 10.5% 12.5% 12.5% 40.0%
Quite happy 37.5% 52.6% 25.0% 33.9% 30.0%
Very happy 62.5% 21.1% 25.0% 37.5% 10.0%
Job title Design Director Senior Designer Middleweight Designer Junior Designer Senior Artworker Middleweight Artworker Junior Artworker
Not very happy at all 9.9% 8.9% 6.3% 5.7% 16.0% 13.3% 10.0%
Quite unhappy 17.8% 18.0% 19.8% 20.6% 4.0% 16.7% 30.0%
 Indifferent 11.9% 22.7% 21.4% 15.4% 28.0% 10.0%  30.0%
Quite happy 47.5% 39.3% 39.7% 40.5% 32.0% 50.0% 30.0%
Very happy 12.9% 11.1% 12.7% 17.8% 20.0% 10.0%  0.0%

Freelance designers are the happiest, according to the survey – with 26.5 per cent of freelancers describing themselves as “very happy”, compared to 17.7 per cent of designers working for consultancies and 11.1 per cent of designers working in-house.

People working for independent agencies are happier than those at networks – with 18.8 per cent of those at independents saying they are “very happy” compared to 12.1 per cent of those at networked consultancies.

The happiest designers are those working in product design, according to the survey, with 21.5 per cent saying they are “very happy”. Coming close are those working in branding, 20.5 per cent of whom say they are “very happy”.

The least satisfied designers are those working in exhibition design, 22.2 per cent of whom described themselves as “not very happy at all”, while 14.3 per cent of those working in direct marketing described themselves as “not very happy at all”.

Discipline Advertising Architecture Branding Digital Direct Marketing Editorial
Not very happy at all 0.0% 0.0% 5.2% 6.1% 14.3% 10.5%
Quite unhappy 33.3% 25.0% 18.5% 17.9% 19.0% 15.8%
Indifferent 16.7% 25.0% 14.5% 22.9% 19.0% 21.1%
Quite happy 33.3% 33.3% 41.4% 39.1% 33.3% 39.5%
Very happy 16.7% 16.7% 20.5% 14.0% 14.3% 13.2%
Discipline Exhibitions Furniture Graphics Interior Packaging Print Product Retail
Not very happy at all 22.2% 10.0% 6.8% 6.3% 8.2% 9.2% 4.6% 4.0%
Quite unhappy 3.7% 10.0% 18.5% 12.7% 17.8% 19.7%  20.0%  24.0%
 Indifferent 14.8% 10.0% 17.9% 17.5% 13.7% 19.3% 13.8%  14.0%
Quite happy 48.1% 60.0% 40.5% 50.8% 46.6% 41.3% 40.0%  48.0%
Very happy 11.1% 10.0% 16.2% 12.7% 13.7%  10.6% 21.5%  10.0%


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