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Survey of design salaries 2003
March 5, 2004 3:53 AM   Subscribe

Survey of design salaries 2003 - how do you compare? The American Institute of Graphic Arts and Communication Arts team up to offer a white paper summary of national and regional salaries and benefits for web designers and developers, copywriters, art directors, print production managers, freelancers, and related positions. The survey is based on responses from 3,184 people in 17 job categories. (28 page PDF)
posted by madamjujujive (19 comments total)

 
't'ain't how much money you make, it's how much tax you pay. Which helps to explain why so many expatriates are.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:59 AM on March 5, 2004


how do you compare?

As a freelancer who just got paid for the first time in 2004 on Wednesday (and only $300 at that, for a book review), not very well. But then again, I waste all my time reading MeFi instead of working, so I guess I can't complain.
posted by LeLiLo at 4:01 AM on March 5, 2004


wow, i knew i didn't make much compared to the rest in my field (web designer) but this is an eye opener... $13k LESS than the median! wow. thanks madam, even though this news didn't really brighten my friday
posted by poopy at 5:02 AM on March 5, 2004


wait...what happens if you're an interface designer and a backend programmer?

does that mean I'd get two salaries?

thanks for the info, madamjujujive. as a guy who's about to graduate from college, this helps put things into perspective.


by the way, anyone need a webprogrammer in nyc?
posted by Stynxno at 5:45 AM on March 5, 2004


Follow the data: head to Miami.
posted by divrsional at 6:23 AM on March 5, 2004


Thank You! As a copywriter/content developer, who has her annual review coming up and doesn't make anything near the 25th percentile, this might be a godsend. You can bet your sweet ass this PDF will be printed out in it's full-color glory and given to the bossman, who absolutely adores the AIGA.
posted by jodic at 6:58 AM on March 5, 2004


Goddam.
posted by DenOfSizer at 7:02 AM on March 5, 2004


Enlightening post, DenOfSizer. :) So I take it you make either much more or much less than you should?
posted by kahboom at 7:20 AM on March 5, 2004


Wow, I'm right at the median for Copywriters in my town (Mpls). I WAS going to trot this in to my review on 3/15, but I guess I'm better off explaining how I'm SO MUCH MORE than your average copywriter. Good luck to you, jodic.
posted by ubermesh at 7:23 AM on March 5, 2004


I wonder if the AIGA benefits from such inflated figures.
posted by four panels at 8:34 AM on March 5, 2004


by the way, anyone need a webprogrammer in nyc?

Heh, you're obviously still in school, then. There's never a shortage of demand for programmers in any field in NYC.

Even before the dotCom era, I have this memory of a recruiter practically begging me to take an interview, as he could guarantee a six figure salary if I'd just walk through the door at BearS.
posted by thanotopsis at 8:37 AM on March 5, 2004


I knew I was getting killed, but now I have a more boss-friendly source of showing him how much I'm getting killed. Salary.com is cool and all, but it just seemed like the numbers were pretty well inflated...

I do production, front-end AND back-end programming, as well as some of the sysadminly things required to get a vhost up and running, upgrade stuff [i.e. scripting languages on the web server], etc...
posted by twiggy at 8:40 AM on March 5, 2004


But how much do they make in Bangalore?
posted by gimonca at 8:49 AM on March 5, 2004


This was co-produced by AQUENT, who doesn't tell their talent how much they're billing the client – or how much they're being ripped off – a lot of designers would be pissed off if they knew Aquent sometimes gets a 50 percent cut off the hourly rate.
posted by disgruntled at 9:19 AM on March 5, 2004


gimonca, from what I hear, they are paying front-end developers about $10k/yr. Compare that to the median for San Francisco and you'll see why.

no saying i like it, but them's the stakes.
posted by Hackworth at 9:43 AM on March 5, 2004


I always wonder how accurate these surveys are. They're self-reported, so there's a lot of incentive for people to exaggerate their salary, so they can wave the report at their boss after it comes out and try to make it self-fullfilling.

(That said, some of these numbers look surprisingly low to me, especially for the solo designer and freelance programmers. You'd think running your own business would be worth more than that. I knew my rates were above the norm, but I didn't realize it was by that much...)

[and Styxno: ditto to what thanatopsis said; at least two of my clients there have been trying to fill developer positions for months. If you've got any kind of portfolio built up at all, you should be fine... forget the dotcoms; corporations have websites too, and a lot more money to spend on them.]
posted by ook at 10:46 AM on March 5, 2004


Which helps to explain why so many expatriates are.

And Starvos is wholly right.

Our art dept was effectively downsized and moved to rural Ohio and overseas, but I managed to get a $12,000 raise and free living expenses by following my job to Cebu, Philippines. (Go-Go new economy!) Tax savings for me is going to be at least another $8000. I'm young (24), single, and the job market for creatives in Minneapolis sorta stinks right now --- got nothing to lose.

So how about a Cebu City Mefi meet-up?
posted by nathan_teske at 12:24 PM on March 5, 2004


Ubermesh (and anyone else about to use this survey in an upcoming review), don't forget that these values are the 2003 report and are based on the 2002 salaries. So if you're trying to negotiate what you'll be making for 2004, you'll want to be sure to build in a 2 year inflation factor of ~5-6% in there when showing this to your boss.

I personally find that these salary reports are too broad to make me feel either really good or really bad about my salary, but I never tell my boss that when I'm going in for a review and using one of these as "proof" :).
posted by freshgroundpepper at 1:08 PM on March 5, 2004


I'll say that some of the salaries are spot-on. Not to say what I make, but from knowing what I make and what some of my fellow designers make , this list isn't too far off.

I work in health care...and for a non-profit, so we (in general) get paid less...but still better than I thought, when I see the 25th's salary range.
posted by mkelley at 1:08 PM on March 5, 2004


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