Average salary for graphic designer is less than £25k

The average salary for a graphic designer is £24 514, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics.

This is slightly lower than the average national salary for 2009, which is £25 816, according to the ONS’ Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings.

The average salary for a product, clothing or related designer is £28 672, while the average salary for a design associate professional is £25 077.

The survey also shows that salaries for graphic designers have risen by 2.56 per cent over the past year, while salaries for product designers and design associates have fallen by 4.33 and 1.13 per cent respectively.

A Design Week survey in March this year showed that the average salary for a middleweight artworker in London was £24 498, while the average salary for a creative director in the capital was £62 249.

Hide Comments (16)Show Comments (16)
  • Simon November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    You have to ask yourself… is it worth the years of training when you can go out and get a job driving trains for nearly 40K.

    If the wages don’t get any better, The industry will collapse due to a lack of designers and artworkers.

  • Liz Farrelly November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Too many chiefs, paying themselves too much….

  • APROPOS November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    There’s absolutely no danger of the industry collapsing as it can easily afford to loose at least 50% and still be massively over populated.

    Too many design graduates think their qualifications mean they immediately deserve a top job and to be very well paid for it. Unless you are very well connected it’s your experience and abilities that decide how much you can charge. Many well respected and consequently well paid designers didn’t go to college. College is the start not the end… there’s design education, and then there’s working in design.

  • cormac jordan November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    i’ve had people say *you don’t do design for money, you do it for the love* love does not pay the bills. year on year the cost of living rises yet wages remain static or even drop. working in this industry is barely worth it.

  • Steve Dalton November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I agree. I am seeing loads of ads at the moment for senior skills at mid-weight wages. I feel a bit like i’m being held to ransom at the moment because of the number of people job hunting, and I am beginning to wonder if it’s worth it.

  • David Bean November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    There’s a lot more junior designers out there earning £18k. For every 4/5 juniors theres one senior so take this average wage statistic with a pinch of salt.

    A better way would be to show the average wage of a junior, a middleweight and senior/lead designer

  • Chris November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    It’s the same for photographers…possibly even more difficult. Many designers are taking their own shots or just using photo library shots.

  • Mahbir November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    …and that is why I moved abroad.

    Foreign markets in my experience (mainland Europe and now Canada) has a desire for foreign ideas with qualified necessary experience. There are too many “designers” (I would prefer the term, “conventional artworkers” instead) in the UK doing the same thing in the same style with little or non differentation and then they expect to be paid the premium!

  • 37monkey November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    @ cormac jordan, I’ve heard the same “you do it for the love” line used in several other industries including outdoor pursuits, it seems to be used to try to make under paid staff feel guilty for expecting a wage that realistily represents the level of work being done

  • Janie Lindsay November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I agree that the industry is awash with more designers/agencies than are really required. In my experience all this comes down to the clients, who are less and less ready to appreciate the value of good design and what return on investment it brings to their businesses. The fact that they can approach so many agencies means eventually they will pay what they want to pay, rather than what it’s worth. Less money coming into agencies means this then impacts on salaries.

    Clients are insisting on paying less and less for design (and we as an industry are allowing them to), and producing more and more in-house design work, usually by untrained non-design staff who fancy a go at doing it for themselves and saving some money.

    It will in my opinion get worse before it gets better, ultimately resulting in a two-tier system, where the top-dog household name design agencies get all of the work from the bluechips who do still value design; and everything else is in-house and/or bargain basement rubbish. Agencies falling in between will fall by the wayside because there won’t be any middle ground.

    Sorry for the apocalyptic view, but I speak from experience as someone who is looking after and quoting to a wide variety of clients all the time.

    Anyone fancy a career change then?

  • Matthew Berry November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Creativity will always be subordinate to the drive for profit in a capitalist economic system. Design education is big business these days, with all the expensive course fees, not to mention the big debt creation it makes – there’s a market for that too. The more candidates they can draw into their establishments the more profits they can can generate. There are many talented young designers that come out of universities every year and 100 times more that arguably, are not up to the job, they end up saturating the design job market. It is the over population of designers that drives down salaries in this industry. This is of course not good for the designers, but it’s of great benefit for the design business as it creates a competitive market for jobs and they can cherry-pick the best at a bargain. If there were to be a situation with fewer design graduates every year, the price of design labour would rocket to reflect the shortage of skills available. Experienced, quality designers can command higher fees, but it is becoming incredibly competitive out there and it has to give at some stage. We cannot separate the current economic crisis and the effect this is having on the industry. Budgets are being slashed across all sectors and the design business needs to drive down the cost of labour to keep making profits. Designers will increasingly have to become accustomed to working for low salaries, probably for some time to come. My advice to young designers would be to pursue design if you are passionate about it, focus on issues that really matter in society and use your skills in those areas, it is these kind of jobs that will make the practice worthwhile for you. In the realities of professional practice you will occasionally get to do some really fun creative work and meaningful work, but most of the time you will be doing work that is uninspiring, and purely to create profit for the design business you work for. It is the opportunities to create truly meaningful and lasting work that will give you a long and satisfying career in design. If you are driven by money, get a job in a bank, I hear they have great bonuses.

  • Dean Hodges November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Forgive me for saying, as a recent graduate there were a series of steps i took to ensure i had a head start in the career ladder. I heard of a statistic that a small percentage of people got a job within the first 2 years and those who didnt gave up early. Before moving to uni i looked at job descriptions to see what is required for full time g.designers, what would i need and salary expectations. I applied for a local graphic design company and fortunately got the job on merit of my enthusiasm. Once i had graduated i had 2 years experience working with clients, learning software and making mistakes. Unfortunately as we know the market turned sour and considered ‘only the strong and determined will survive’. Graduated with a 2:1 i had a headache convincing agencies that i worked hard freelancing weekends and early hours. What gives me satisfaction is that i have a job that pays for my childs future and i got to work with a smile each and everyday. I hopefully would like to think the current state of the market would shake up the industry. I believe, you must make yourself unique to be able to get ahead of the rest. Experience definately helps 100% in getting a job, but you make your future.

  • Nicola Ennis November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    We recruit for designers at all levels and it is getting seriously competitive in the graphic design sector. There is a massive move to go into the digital (web) world where there is a definite ladder to climb meaning a pay rise every year and every job hop. This is where 80% of our business has come from in the last year.

    There is definitely a ceiling for graphic designers (and even a pyramid if you count the last year) unless you progress by starting your own agency, going freelance or getting promoted to CD or Studio management. It always seems strange to me to speak to someone who has been in the industry for over 10 years that is earning the same as someone who has been in the same hob for 5/6 years where as if they were in IT this would definitely not be the case.

    Also, with so many agencies being smaller than what you imagine, most of them seem to be taking on all types of business in order to outsource to freelancers (if its not core) meaning more full service types and less specialists. If agencies spent more time developing a niche then maybe they could charge more and develop more depth in these saturated markets (easier said than done I guess).

    Maybe this is the start of the virtual agency whereby everyone is a freelancer, even if they are working, and can work on projeccts at home? We are certainly doing the same with regards to helping design graduates into the industry with our “post grad apprenticeship” – Creative Protege – in order to help them into the market and its definitely viable….

  • rebekah burke November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Yes but as a recent graduate you frustrate me as you’ve made a business in taking advantage of graduates like me looking for some form of formality into gaining insight into real life work in graphic design.. how can a graduate feel any form of passion or excitement when they pay for a brief to work on.. how can your company name on a CV have any weight when employers know that the student has PAID to work… is it not bad enuf that some internships don’t even offer travel expenses.. No wonder the pay is so low as when we begin as a aspiring graphic designer it is believed the work that is done isn’t worthy of any pay.

  • Katie Higgs November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Need we say more!


    I’ll do it whilst I’m watching TV or something… he he he.

  • Young J November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Interesting article. I dropped out of Sixth Form was going to be a Medic. I have been in graphic / web design for almost 8 years since I was around 14. I am 22 now and dropped out of a graphic design course and computer course also afterwards.

    Now I am working as a graphic designer around the corner from my house getting paid £12/hr for 6 hours 5 days. I do freelance web design on the side also and my own clients (currently overloaded with work). to get exp for starting a multimedia franchise in India.

    Qualifications mean nothing. I can run my own business and hire and train people without mentioning qualifications, you don’t need to be ‘qualified’ to be an artist / designer, unless you don’t know have to grasp or create your own opportunities.

    The only jobs you need qualifications for are a) you are working for a schmuck.
    b) you are risking peoples lives.

  • Post a comment

Latest articles