How much do designers get paid (and how happy are they about it?)

Written by: Angus Montgomery
Published on: 28 Jan 2016

At the end of last year we asked our readers to help us compile a career and salary survey of the design industry, to find out who makes up the industry and how much they get paid.

More than 2,000 of you responded and the results have been analysed and visualised by IIB Studio.

In this article we look at what the results tell us about how much designers get paid – and how happy they are about this…

Designer Pay article image 2

The average (mean) salary for designers and creatives, according to our research, is £36,444. This is an average taken for people at all levels, working across all design sectors.

There’s quite a bit of disparity within these results, as you might expect. 12% of you earn less than £19,999 a year, while 12% earn more than £55,000.

The majority of you fit somewhere in the middle, with just under a quarter of you earning £30,000-£39,000 a year.

Designer Pay article image 3

As you might expect, salaries tend to rise in line with levels of experience. For example, 83% of those earning more than £70,000 a year have been in the industry for longer than ten years – as have 68% of those earning £55,000-£69,000 a year.

Meanwhile, 65% of those earning less than £19,999 had under three years’ experience, as did half of those earning between £20,000 and £24,000 a year.

Designer Pay article image 4

The harder you work, the more you earn? Possibly. According to our research a third of those earning more than £70,000 a year were doing 1-2 hours overtime every day – and almost as many were doing more than two hours a day.

Whatever your salary bracket, it seems like overtime is a fairly common experience, with the majority of designers reporting that they are doing at least some length of overtime every day.

Designer Pay article image 5

The more you earn, the happier you are? Almost certainly. Our research showed that those in the lowest salary bracket also had the lowest job satisfaction, with under half saying that they were happy in their current role.

Job satisfaction gradually increases as you go up the salary range, peaking at 74% happiness ratings for those earning more than £70,000 a year.

Jump to our next stories to find out about more about the make-up of the design industry and what they get out of their jobs.

Visit the 2016 Design Week Careers Survey homepage

We asked data visualisation specialists IIB Studio to help us uncover and visualise the stories in our survey. IIB Studio took the data relating to designers and creatives and analysed them, looking for the most interesting relationships, patterns and conclusions that could be drawn. They then turned these findings into the visualisations you see here.

Our thanks to Ella Hollowood, Michael Brenner, Duncan Swain and Rebecca Conroy. For more on IIB Studio’s work, go to