Before choosing to pursue a particular career in the United States, it is a good idea for students to review the country’s latest employment data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This data helps the population see the relative demand for all occupations, as well employment outlook and average salary.

The following BLS data was originally released in May 2011, so it gives a good, up-to-date picture of the current employment landscape for the field most commonly referred to as “graphic design.” If you are thinking about going to school for a degree in graphic design, or a degree related to this field, this data will help you make a better-informed decision about how and where to look for your first job and what you can expect, in terms of earnings and upper-level job opportunities.

Total Employment, Average Income and Job Outlook

In the United States, there are around 191,550 people who classify themselves as “graphic designers.” The annual mean wage for this occupation is $48,690, with the lowest wage being $26,210 and the highest being $77,370. Job growth is expected to increase by 13% between 2010 and 2020. This is the average rate for all occupations.

The Top Industries

The industries that hire the most graphic designers are as follows (from highest to lowest number employed):

  1. Specialized Design Services
  2. Newspaper, Periodical, Book and Directory Publishers
  3. Advertising, Public Relations and Related Services
  4. Printing and Related Support Activities
  5. Computer Systems Design and Related Services

Specific industries that pay the most are as follows (from highest to lowest amount):

  1. Federal Executive Branch
  2. Amusement Parks and Arcades
  3. Monetary Authorities-Central Bank
  4. Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing
  5. Motion Picture and Video Industries

States with High Numbers of Graphic Designers

Below are the five states with the most graphic designers:

  1. California (26, 450 employed)
  2. New York (18, 340 employed)
  3. Texas (10,780 employed)
  4. Florida (10,700 employed)
  5. Illinois (10,600 employed)

The Top-Paying States

Below are the top-paying states for graphic designers:

  1. District of Columbia (average income of $66,030)
  2. New York (average income of $59,580)
  3. California (average income of $57,140)
  4. Connecticut (average income of $54,530)
  5. Virginia (average income of $53,950)

Metropolitan Areas with the Most Graphic Designers

  1. New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division
  2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA MetropolitanDivision
  3. Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL MetropolitanDivision
  4. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MetropolitanDivision
  5. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

Non-Metropolitan Areas with the Most Graphic Designers

  1. Kansas nonmetropolitan area
  2. Northwest Minnesota nonmetropolitan area
  3. Balance of Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area
  4. West Northwestern Ohio nonmetropolitan area
  5. West Central Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area

High job turnover is expected to remain constant among lower and middle-level positions, which means openings will always be available. However, according to the BLS, competition for senior graphic designer positions will remain very strong. For more information about this or any other occupation, visit and search the title of the career in interest.

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