How Much Does a Web Designer Make?

Web Money

The Internet offers many jobs for web designers, but how much does a web designer make?

Should You Work for Yourself or Someone Else?

When deciding whether or not you should be self-employed, it usually comes down to money. How much does a web designer make by owning their own business, and would it be more than working for a corporation? That is not an easy question to answer without knowing all the facts. If you live in an area where web design is relatively new, or there aren't many places doing it, then you can be very competitive against larger firms. Large companies offer the possibility of having a team of people by your side, but many companies won't hire a fresh out of the box, unproven designer despite the degrees that you may have.

The Internet and Web Design

Just a decade ago, the Internet was a very different place than it is now. It was not uncommon to visit a web site with a bright blue or green background color filled with blue or yellow text, with bits of the page blinking here and there. A few animated GIF files were thrown all over the place, and it just all looked horrible.

We are in the second stage of evolution of the Internet now, and that sort of design just won't cut it. The Internet exists as a major commerce and social networking tool. Small companies used it back in the day to sell their wares, but now companies from all over the world make use of the Internet for a number of purposes. A web designer has to be able to take the client's needs and turn them into a fully functioning web site that is not only attractive, but also intuitive.

What a web designer earns is based on several important factors including your education, whether you're self-employed, your skill set, and where you live.

College or Self Taught

The salary of a web designer, like that of many other professions, can be greatly affected if you have obtained a degree or if you're self-trained. Many companies that hire for in-house web designers look for that degree; typically a Bachelor's. They will sometimes look past not having a degree if you have a stellar portfolio.

Your Own Firm or Corporate Designer

Working for another company can provide you with a lot of benefits, like a steady paycheck. You may also have a team of designers to back you up. Having such a team takes some of the stress away and allows you to specialize. Having your own company gives you freedom and an ability to charge whatever you want, but you'll also have overhead to worry about as well.

Skill Set

What you know often determines what you will be paid. If you want to earn a large salary then learn as much as you can that deals with web design, for example:

  • Java Scripting
  • CGI
  • Database
  • Cascading Stylesheets
  • Graphic Design
  • Security
  • Flash Animation
  • Basic HTML, DHTML and XML
  • Photoshop
  • Frontpage
  • Dreamweaver
  • … among other skills.

It's important to know that the more you know, the more you'll make.

Location, Location, Location

Where you live often impacts your earning potential. Living in a small town and being the only web designer puts you in a very lucrative position, because you can charge whatever you want and your cost of living will help you decide that. If you live in Seattle, your salary will most likely be higher than living in Anytown, USA, but your cost of living will also be higher.

How Much Does a Web Designer Make

On average, the starting salary of a web designer is just under $35,000.00. However, other factors, such as those listed above, play a part in your earnings.

Salary by Type of Employer

  • Corporation - $42,000.00
  • Non-Profit - $37, 500.00
  • College - $40,500.00
  • Private Practice - $40,000.00
  • Self-Employed - $24,000.00
  • Local & State Government - $37,500.00
  • Public School - $39,500.00
  • Healthcare - $60,000.00
  • Freelance Contract - $45,000.00
  • Federal Government - $53,000.00
  • Foundation or Trust - $25,000.000

Salary by Degree Type

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design - $42,000.00
  • Bachelor of Arts - $43,000.00
  • Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design - $47,000.00
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts - $44,000.00
  • Bachelor of Science - $49,000.00
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science - $41,000.00
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communications - $36,000.00

Salary by Experience

  • 1 Year or Less - $35,000.00
  • 1 - 4 Years - $39,000.00
  • 5 - 9 Years - $47,500.00
  • 10 - 19 Years - $50,500.00
  • 20+ Years - $60,000.00

Salary by Major City

  • New York - $48,000.00
  • San Francisco - $56,500.00
  • Chicago - $43,000.00
  • Seattle - $57,000.00
  • Los Angeles - $49,500.00
  • San Diego - $42,000.00
  • Boston - $49,500.00

Final Words

A web design career can be both very rewarding and very challenging. The field is highly competitive, so it's important to establish a specialty for yourself so that you can fill a niche that's in demand. As the Internet continues to grow and evolve, so will your web design career.

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