Average Salary for Digital Designers in 2023

The field of digital design is growing, as businesses and nonprofit organizations increasingly recognize how imperative it is to have a strong online presence and user-friendly digital products/services. So, it’s no surprise that the demand for skilled and talented digital designers, who can create visually appealing and functional designs, is on the rise. In this article, we will review the role of digital designers, the average salary they earn in the US and what skills they need to succeed in the design industry. Whether you are just getting started or you’re already an experienced designer, the information here can help you understand what salary expectations are realistic for this role and how to plan your career accordingly.

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The Role of a Digital Designer

Digital designers play a critical role in the design and development of the digital products we all enjoy and interact with – including mobile applications, websites, and user interfaces. Their responsibilities can include designing prototypes, creating wireframes, and making visual designs for digital products that meet aesthetic and functional needs.

Digital designers can be formally trained or self taught. In either case, these professionals have a strong understanding of color theory, composition, typography and design trends. Additionally, these design pros are often proficient in tools such as the Adobe Creative Suite, Sketch, Figma, and similar software programs.

In short, digital designers play a key role in the creation of visually-enticing, user-friendly and functional digital products.

a digital designer walking through the city while working from her smartphone

Skills Employers Watch For

When hiring for a digital design role, employers often look for candidates that have strong problem-solving skills, effective communication styles, and the ability to meet the technical demands of their projects. In summary, digital designers need a combination of soft and hard skills to succeed in their role.

Soft Skills for Success as a Digital Designer

  • Adaptability: In the design industry, things are constantly changing. So, digital designers must be able to quickly adapt to new technologies, follow design trends, and shift to meet the demands of companies and end-users.
  • Communication: Designers must be able to communicate their ideas and present their designs to colleagues, clients, and key stakeholders within a company. So, it’s imperative that designers learn how to articulate their design decisions and rationale.
  • Problem-Solving: As a designer, professionals working in this field will always be tasked with finding creative solutions to complicated problems. So, critical thinking skills are important.
  • Time Management: Digital designers often work on multiple creative projects that have competing deadlines. So, having the ability to prioritize tasks and manage time effectively is essential.
  • Collaboration: The success of a digital product often relies on group effort. So, digital designers must be able to work well with other professionals, including web developers, project managers, and company stakeholders.
  • Creativity: Digital designers have to be creative and imaginative to be able to craft solutions to design problems.
  • Attention to Detail: Digital design requires a keen eye for detail and an extremely high level of precision. So, digital designers should be meticulous, diligent, and extremely detail-oriented.

Technical Skills Every Designer Should Hone

  • Design Software Proficiency: In order to succeed in their roles, digital designers must be demonstrate a proficiency in using industry-standard design tools such as Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Adobe XD), Sketch, Figma and more.
  • Knowledge of Web Technology: While the requirements for each job position will vary, it helps if digital designers are familiar with web technologies such as HTML, CSS and Javascript – as well as how these technologies impact design. 
  • Understanding of User-Centered Design Principles: Digital designers should recognize the importance of creating user-friendly products and should hone a deep understanding of user-centered design principles.
  • Familiarity with Color Theory and Typography: When it comes to digital design, having a strong sense of color theory and a deep understanding of the importance of typography is extremely important. 
  • Ability to Create Prototypes and Wireframes: In addition to the other skills this role requires, it helps for digital designers to be able to create wireframes and prototypes as they move a product from ideation to its final stage. 
digital designer looks at a view with skyscrapers

Average Salary for Digital Designers

The salary for a digital designer can vary depending on various factors including the candidate’s geographic location, experience, skills, and the type of employer they are seeking. However, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)the average digital designer salary is $79,000 as of May 2021.

In larger cities, such as New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, the average salary for digital designers may be even higher to accommodate for the high costs of living and the increased demand for digital design talent. In comparison, a digital designer may be offered a much lower salary in a small city that doesn’t have a high demand for professionals in this field. And while the reported average salary is nearly $80,000; other sources cite the salary range as being around $40,000 to $85,000+ for those in this role. 

In addition to geographic location, experience is also an important factor to consider when looking at salary offerings from employers. An entry-level designer will likely be offered much less than a seasoned designer with several years of experience. Remember, experience often earns you more money – no matter what industry!

Lastly, the type of employer one seeks employment with will impact salary. Those who seek careers with large corporations or trendy industries, such as tech or finance, may have a better chance of earning a high salary, as compared to those who work for small businesses or non-profit organizations.

In conclusion, the average salary for this profession can vary widely. And while you’d have to research your specific location and consider your experience level to get an accurate estimate of your earnings, it is an exciting industry to be in nonetheless. And what’s even better is that it’s growing! But don’t just take our word for it. The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates has reported that this field will continue to grow for years to come. 

“Overall employment of web developers and digital designers, is projected to grow 23% from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations. About 21,800 openings for web developers and digital designers are projected each year, on average, over the decade.” 

– Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Web Developers and Digital Designers