Is Graphic Design a High-Income Skill? (Yes, See Why)

is graphic design a high income skill

Do you wonder if graphic design is a high-income skill? You’re not alone.

Many people are interested in pursuing a career in graphic design but are unsure if it can provide a comfortable living.

The answer to this question is not straightforward, but we can provide some insights to help you make an informed decision.

What is Graphic Design Really About?

Graphic design is a creative process that involves combining text and images to create visual communication.

Graphic designer at work

It requires a combination of technical and artistic abilities. Graphic designers use their creativity and design skills to develop visual concepts and layouts that convey a message or idea to the viewer.

Typography is a crucial aspect of graphic design.

It involves selecting and arranging fonts, which can significantly impact a design’s overall look and feel. The right typography can make a design look professional and polished, while the wrong typography can make it look amateurish and unappealing.

Brand identity is another important aspect of graphic design.

It involves creating a visual representation of a brand that helps to distinguish it from its competitors. This can include logos, color palettes, and other visual elements that help to establish a brand’s identity.

Layout is also an essential part of graphic design.

It involves arranging text, images, and other visual elements on a page or screen. The right layout can make a design more visually appealing and easier to understand, while the wrong layout can make it confusing and difficult to navigate.

Is Graphic Design a High-Income Skill?

Graphic design can be considered a high-income skill depending on your experience level, industry, specialization, and geographical location.

For instance, graphic designers with certain skills can earn significantly more than the average base salary. The average base salary for a graphic designer in North Carolina is reported to be $21.32 per hour, and those with specific skills can earn +89.85% more.

Graphic designer salary in North Carolina
Source: Indeed

However, salaries can vary widely.

According to figures from, the salary range for entry-level positions in Raleigh, North Carolina, is $52,201 to $67,001.

More experienced graphic designers, such as senior graphic designers, can experience a significant salary increase, reflecting the potential for graphic design to be a high-income skill for those with experience and advanced skills.

It’s important to note that “high income” can be subjective and may depend on living costs in a particular area or compared to other professions.

The data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a national perspective, showing that graphic designers earn hourly wages ranging from $17.51 to $37.30, which translates to an annual wage range of $36,420 to $77,570.

Suppose you have a strong portfolio of work and a technical knowledge base. In that case, you can make even more money as a freelance graphic designer without being tied down to a single company or organization.

Can Graphics Design Make You Rich?

While some graphic designers earn a comfortable living, others struggle to make ends meet.

Your experience level, skill set, and ability to market your services effectively affect your income as a graphic designer.

Here are some ways that you can increase your earning potential as a graphic designer:

Specialize in a Niche

One way to stand out in the crowded graphic design market is to specialize in a niche. By focusing on a particular industry or type of design, you can position yourself as an expert and charge a premium for your services.

For example, if you specialize in designing book covers, you can target authors and publishers and charge higher rates than a generalist designer.

Build a Strong Portfolio

Your portfolio is your calling card as a graphic designer. It is essential to have a collection of your best work that showcases your skills and style. A strong portfolio can help you land higher-paying clients and increase your income.

Stay Up-to-Date with Trends and Technology

As a graphic designer, staying current with the latest trends and technology in the industry is crucial.

Clients are always looking for fresh, modern designs; you risk falling behind the competition if you don’t keep up. By staying current, you can offer cutting-edge designs that command higher rates.

Market Your Services Effectively

Finally, you must market your services effectively to make a good income as a graphic designer.

This includes creating a strong online presence, networking with potential clients, and building relationships with other designers and industry professionals. The more you put yourself out there, the more opportunities you’ll have to land high-paying gigs.


Graphic design can be a high-income skill, but it takes hard work, dedication, and a strategic approach to succeed. By specializing in a niche, building a strong portfolio, staying up-to-date with trends and technology, and marketing your services effectively, you can increase your earning potential and achieve financial success as a graphic designer.

How Do Graphic Designers Make Money?

As a graphic designer, there are several ways you can make money.

Some of the ways include:

1. Freelancing

Freelancing is a common way for graphic designers to make money. You can offer your services to clients on a project-by-project basis, allowing you to control your schedule and the projects you work on. You can find clients online or by networking with people in your industry.

2. Selling Digital Products

Graphic designers can make money by creating and selling digital products like fonts, icons, and illustrations. You can sell your products on platforms such as Creative Market, Etsy, or your website.

3. Full-Time Employment

Some graphic designers work full-time for companies or agencies. This provides a stable source of income and benefits. However, it may limit your creative freedom and flexibility.

4. Teaching or Training

Another way for graphic designers to make money is by teaching or training others. You can offer classes or workshops in person or online. You can also create and sell courses on platforms such as Udemy or Skillshare.

5. Design Contests

Design contests are another way for graphic designers to make money. You can participate in design contests on platforms such as 99designs or DesignCrowd. However, it’s important to note that these contests may not always pay well and require much effort for little reward.

What are the Software and Apps You Need as a Graphic Designer?

As a graphic designer, there are several essential software and apps that you might need, depending on the type of design work you do:

  • Adobe Illustrator:

This is a key vector graphics editor that is widely used for creating logos, icons, drawings, typography, and complex illustrations for any medium.

  • Adobe Photoshop:

Renowned for its photo editing capabilities, Photoshop is crucial for creating web and app designs, 3D artwork, videos, and more. It’s a staple for manipulating images and creating raster graphics.

Adobe InDesign:

This desktop publishing software is mainly used for laying out newspapers, magazines, books, brochures, and digital publications.


A user-friendly graphic design tool offers various templates and design options for creating social media graphics, presentations, posters, documents, and other visual content. Its simplicity makes it a favorite for both non-designers and professionals.

CorelDraw Graphics Suite:

This software suite is a competitor to Adobe’s offerings and includes tools for vector illustration, layout, photo editing, and more.

Adobe XD:

Used for designing and prototyping user experiences for web and mobile apps.


A raster graphics editor app for digital painting, available on iOS and iPadOS, which is popular among illustrators and artists.

Adobe Fresco:

A drawing and painting app designed for touch and stylus devices to create digital art.


A web-based UI and UX design application useful for its collaborative design features.

These are just a few examples of the software and apps that graphic designers commonly use. The choice of tools can vary based on specific needs, such as 3D design, motion graphics, or web design. It’s also important to note that many designers use a combination of these tools to achieve the desired outcome for their projects.

How Much You Can Make as a Graphic Designer?

The income of a graphic designer can vary widely based on factors such as experience, location, type of employment (freelance, agency, in-house), and the specific industry they work in.

Here are some factual data points to look at:

  • National Average in the US: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic designers earn an hourly wage starting at $17.51 and going up to $37.30. This translates to an annual wage range from $36,420 to $77,570.
  • Average Salary: As per PayScale, the average salary for a Graphic Designer is $50,917 in 2024.
  • Hourly Rate: Indeed reports that the average salary for a Graphic Designer in the United States is $22.25 per hour.
  • Salary Range: I learned from Career Village discussions that the average Graphic Designer salary is $50,735, but the salary range typically falls between $45,831 and $53,928.
  • Freelance Graphic Designers: Income can vary even more for freelancers. For example, a Reddit user in the graphic design subreddit mentioned earning between $7,000 and $10,000 monthly as a freelance designer with about 10 years of experience (Reddit).
  • Location-Based Variations: Geographic location can significantly impact a graphic designer’s salary. For example, Simplilearn provides data on the average monthly salary for graphic designers in different states in the US, with Alabama at $5,030 and Arizona at $5,260.

These figures illustrate that while the national average provides a general idea, actual earnings can be higher or lower depending on the graphic designer’s specific circumstances.

Where Can I Find High-paying Graphic Design Jobs?

If you’re looking for high-paying graphic design jobs, there are a number of resources available to help you find them.

Here are a few options to consider:

Job Boards

One of the most effective ways to find high-paying graphic design jobs is to search job boards.

Websites like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and Authentic Jobs are great places to start. These sites allow you to search for jobs based on location, salary, and other criteria, making it easy to find jobs that match your skills and experience.

Freelance Platforms

Another option is freelance platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.

While these platforms are primarily geared towards freelancers, they also offer a number of high-paying graphic design jobs. Many businesses and individuals use these platforms to find talented designers for one-off projects or ongoing work.


Networking is another important tool for finding high-paying graphic design jobs.

Attend industry events, join professional organizations, and connect with other designers on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. Building relationships with other designers and industry professionals can help you learn about new job opportunities and get your foot in the door with potential employers.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, graphic design is a high-income skill that can lead to many work opportunities. With the rise of digital marketing and online businesses, the demand for graphic designers has increased significantly.

As a graphic designer, you can work full-time in advertising or independently through freelance endeavors. You can also offer your services to clients, including small businesses, startups, and established corporations.

To succeed as a graphic designer, it’s important to have a strong portfolio, excellent communication skills, and proficiency in design software such as Adobe Creative Suite. You should also stay up-to-date with design trends and industry developments to remain competitive.

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