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Career Advice

All you need to know about a graphic designer's salary

Whether you’re looking to change your career completely or you are fresh out of an Irish university looking for your first job, a graphic designer is a popular choice. A creative role with technical elements mixed in, it’s a great position with plenty of career growth prospects available too. Here we explain everything you need to know about a graphic designer salary, what the role entails and offer more information on the field.

What is the role of a graphic designer?

The typical tasks involved with being a graphic designer include:

  • Collaborating with clients to establish their design briefs and what they require for their projects

  • Advising clients on design choices

  • Bringing your client's vision to life through design

  • Creating a host of illustrations and graphic designs for a range of purposes

  • Utilising programs such as InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop and other similar tools to assist with your work

  • Collaborating with different areas of a business such as the marketing or sales teams

  • Proof-checking designs for errors before being sent to print or to be published

  • Listening to client feedback and editing designs as required

Graphic designers are tasked with the role of creating different visual designs for businesses. These are usually for promotional purposes to help sell the business and promote it to customers. Graphic Designers may be tasked with creating posters, printed adverts, logos and advertising banners, website designs & content, to name but a few.

What does a graphic designer earn?

The amount that a graphic designer can earn can vary depending on how much experience you have and where you work. In Ireland, the average yearly salary for a graphic designer is around €33,000, according to Indeed.com. This can vary based on factors such as location, experience and what level of education an employee has. For example, a graphic designer in an entry-level position may find their salary to be as low as €24,000. Whereas an experienced graphic designer working in a major city with a higher cost of living could be earning upwards of €40,000.

How can a graphic designer increase their salary?

There are multiple ways a graphic designer in Ireland could increase their salary. For example, if a graphic designer is completing tasks and duties not included in their original job specification or has become instrumental in a project, they may be able to negotiate a higher salary with their employer. They may also receive a pay rise if they secure a promotion, for example, the average salary of a creative director is between €52,000–€82,000, which is significantly higher than entry-level positions. 

Other factors that influence the salary of a graphic designer include:

Business size

Where you decide to work as a graphic designer can impact your salary. For example, if you decide to work in-house for a company you might just be in charge of one particular area of graphic design or be responsible for all of their graphic design needs. Working independently may initially command a higher salary than working in a team of graphic designers, but may have limited progression opportunities.

If you decide to work for an agency rather than for a specific company, your role might be more varied. This is because you will likely be looking after a number of clients as opposed to just one. Working for an agency may be a lower initial salary but provide more opportunities for progression. For example, after your first year with the company, you might progress from a junior graphic designer to an assistant graphic design manager.

Employment vs. freelance

If you specialise in a certain role or if you decide to go freelance, you might find that you earn more this way. This is because you can charge more for having a niche and also change on a job-per-job basis. You can also charge an hourly rate.

Although freelancers can set their own rates, they have to factor in costs such as holiday days, sick days and health insurance which are usually paid for by an employer. Freelancers are also responsible for paying the correct amount of tax to the Irish government, such as the Universal Social Charge (USC).

Seniority

As previously mentioned, the more experience a graphic designer has, the higher the salary they usually earn. It is beneficial for graphic designers to regularly update their CV and online portfolio so they can include any new achievements they have accomplished and be prepared if they see a higher-paying senior graphic designer position advertised.

Location

Location can play a significant factor in influencing salaries, as graphic design jobs in rural areas of Ireland are usually advertised with lower salaries than in larger cities. For example, the average salary of a graphic designer in parts of rural Ireland is €29,462 whereas the average salary of a graphic designer in Dublin is €35,577 per year. Many graphic design positions now offer remote or flexible working opportunities which help graphic designers living in more rural areas of Ireland to secure jobs in higher-paying areas without having to complete an extensive commute daily.

What type of graphic design has the highest salary?

There is no single area of graphic design that commands a higher salary. There are multiple types of graphic design, and the role of a graphic designer can be broad or narrow depending on the role for which they have been hired. For example, a digital graphic designer may exclusively create digital designs, such as logos and banners, for websites and social media platforms, whereas a graphic designer hired by a magazine may create content exclusively for print media. When planning your career path, consider if you would like to pursue a specialism, such as creating logos for brands, or if you would favour variety and offer a broader range of graphic design services. The salary of different types of graphic designers will be influenced by the above factors and not the type of graphic design itself.

What skills benefit a graphic designer?

There are a host of skills, graphic design courses and attributes that make an ideal candidate. This includes:

An understanding of design principles

Design principles are a necessary aspect to understand if you want to be a graphic designer. Things such as how typography works, what colours connote and how to bring emphasis to areas of design are examples of necessary elements you need to understand for effective design.

A flair for creativity

Being a graphic designer involves being creative and able to think up exciting new ideas for clients, and adapt to many different graphic design styles. You'll need to be able to bring images alive and conceptualise a client's idea and vision.

Good communication skills

Communication is imperative as a graphic designer because you are essentially turning someone else's ideas and brief into a concept. You will need to be able to speak with clients to find out what they want and also liaise with other teams within a business.

Organisation skills

You will likely have a number of projects going on in one go and that’s why you need to be as organised as possible when you’re a graphic designer.

Being a graphic designer is often a well sought after career due to its versatility, creative aspects and the amount of career progression you can expect. It’s also a handy career if you’re looking to get into something more specialised as you will experience a whole host of different skill-growing opportunities.

Check out our resources section to find out more about graphic design in Ireland and what courses are available.