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With our list of the 30 highest paying design jobs and salaries, our intent is to inform you about the career that may be best suited to your desires. Are you the creative type? Do you need an outlet to foster your imagination and creative abilities? If so, a career steeped rich in original and innovative design will keep you satisfied… and you can make a living doing it! What could be better than that?
Design jobs cover a wide gamut of creative outlets. Our list outlines career options that often begin simply as hobbies and then with education and experience develop into a full-time and lucrative career choice. As you will see, the salaries below depict the average pay; however, in management positions, you can expect a significant salary increase, no doubt.
Quick Peek of the Top 10 Design Careers with the Highest Pay:
- Creative Director: $145,148
- Art Director: $142,765
- Design Manager: $134,700
- Graphic Design Manager: $119,244
- User Experience Designer: $99,265
- Art Professor: $93,440
- Architect: $91,185
- Sculptor: $88,897
- Advertising Designer: $72,300
- Videographer: $71,746
Don't just stop here! Peruse the entire list. Sometimes the highest-paying job doesn't fulfill your highest needs. Keep that in mind. If your passion is in Kitchen Design, go with your passion 100 percent of the time. Life is too short to not truly enjoy your chosen career. Choose wisely, my friend. Having said that, the following job salaries were retrieved from various salary information websites and are the most up-to-date numbers as of September 2023!
The 30 HIGHEST PAYING DESIGN JOBS AND SALARIES
1. Creative Director
Creative Directors plan, oversee, and manage the creative process of all projects. They are the leads at advertising agencies or marketing companies. They are responsible for guiding their creative teams, which include directors, designers, and copywriters. Depending on the company’s goals, the role of creative directors may change.
Working with the team to produce creative ideas, overseeing client pitches and proposals, meeting with clients or upper management, reviewing work, and providing feedback to the group are some of the responsibilities creative directors hold. This position needs ample experience that runs from five to eight years. Problem-solving and project-management skills are essential.
2. Furniture Designer
Furniture designers develop and produce designs for items and different kinds of furniture. Some of these creative individuals work for the mass production of furniture and may even work for branded pieces. There are two kinds of furniture designers: Independent furniture designers work on a commission basis and create designs without having to depend on clients. Commercial furniture designers create their designs based on the company’s goals and target market.
The responsibilities of furniture designers are preparing detailed plans, using software packages, evaluating the ordering and manufacturing of furniture, attending workshops, and staying abreast of design trends and developments.
3. Product Designer
The challenge of product designers is to take broad ideas and make them functional and straightforward items or products. These products are used in our daily lives, may they be industrial or consumer goods. Product designers do not only design new products but also improve how existing products work. They must work and collaborate with engineers, marketing, and manufacturing teams as well.
Responsibilities may include analyzing the development process of new products, developing a comprehensive specification and documentation necessary to other teams, presenting drafts through sketches, storyboards, and architecture blueprints, producing prototypes, testing the functionality of products, and gathering feedback from clients, upper management, engineering, and other teams. The work environment for product designers is usually in bright studios or workshops.
4. Design Manager
Design managers drive efficiency and manage a team of design, graphics, and draft teams or departments. These managers are tasked to develop design strategies, ensure technical resources are utilized efficiently, oversee quality checking and approval procedures, coordinate with other teams and various parties of production and design, and escalate the potential issue to upper management. And lastly, they track and evaluate the feedback on design performance. They work standard office hours and full-time.
5. Art Director
Art directors generally have to manage a team of designers working on a creative project for visual styles and images in the fields of film and television, publishing, marketing, product packaging, web design, and more.
They have responsibilities to meet with clients to discuss brand objectives and targets, hire and train designing staff, collaborate with other teams in the art department in developing creative visual elements, establish budgets and timelines, research market trends and consumer needs, and track campaign performance.
Most employers look for a master’s degree for this position. Art directors usually work in a fast-paced environment and have very high social interaction skills since they work with customers and client staff regularly. They have to work under pressure to meet deadlines every week or every month.
6. User Experience (UX) Designer
User experience designers’ main concern is how a particular product “feels.” They have to possess a strong empathy for the user and have excellent analytical abilities to identify user needs and solve problems. These are possible through research and testing.
UX designers are responsible for developing wireframes and task flows premised on user needs, understanding product specifications and user psychology, developing prototypes based on customer needs, and creating a strategic design for new functions and features.
They also collaborate with other designers and developers as they gather feedback after conducting tests. They must be experts in standard UX software like Sketch, Framer, OmniGraffle, InVision, UXPin, and Balsamiq.
Architects design residential and commercial buildings and the spaces around them. They plan, design, and oversee the construction. They may also restore and redesign old or existing buildings to make room for new facilities.
Their tasks may include developing ideas based on client specifications and needs, producing detailed blueprints, ensuring budgets and timelines are met, coordinating with contractors, doing site visits, and attending regular meetings with other colleagues and professionals involved in the construction or project. Most of them work in offices with occasional visits to clients and project locations. Employers may vary from private construction companies to government agencies and other organizations.
8. Advertising Designer
Advertising designers develop ideas for advertisements and work to bring these advertisements to life and different channels. These advertisements can involve television, web content, print, newspapers, magazines, books, or promotional giveaways. This is done by creating or choosing eye-catching designs through visual concepts comprised of shapes, drawings, computer-generated objects, or photographs.
Other design team members may also produce these concepts, so coordination and interaction are essential to this job. Advertising designers work to sell a product or service. They have to do market research on customer needs, edit and manipulate presentations according to the client’s needs, and determine which layout or design will be most appealing to the consumers.
9. Fashion Designer
Fashion designers have a strong sense of aesthetics, a sense of balance and proportion, and a keen eye for color and detail. They design and assist in the production of clothing range, shoes, and accessories. Some may work as a generalist while some prefer to specialize in an area like women’s wear, sportswear, haute couture, high-street fashion, menswear, and more. They decide what color, style, size, fabrics, and trims to work on.
Their responsibilities include creating an idea and developing a design, planning and formulating ranges, coordinating with other members of the team, reviewing products or styles, presenting mood boards or storyboards to potential clients, and lastly, keeping track of the latest trends in fashion.
10. Multimedia Artists and Animators
Multimedia artists and animators, through the use of multiple technologies, create animation, special effects, and other visual images for television, movies, video games, and different sorts of media. The animations are usually created in two- or three-dimensional models. Multimedia artists and animators are tasked to develop sophisticated graphics and animation through computer programs and illustrations.
They manipulate the light, color, shadow, movements, and texture of an object to make characters appear real. Applying story development, creating storyboards, working with other team members, researching upcoming projects, and meeting with clients, directors, actors, and other designers to check timelines and update on deadlines are some of the responsibilities of multimedia artists and animators.
Motion picture agencies and video industries hire most of them while some are employed by software publishers, advertising agencies, and related services.
11. Video Producers
Video producers are leaders who are in charge of getting things done in a film or video production. They must possess creative ability, as well as strong entrepreneurial skills. Video producers work on the project from start to finish. They begin with selecting artistic elements for multimedia content, then hire editors, actors, stylists, videographers, and other team members needed for the production team.
Once video producers organize the crew and staff, they then delegate specific tasks to each of them. Video producers also have to ensure that the projects are kept within the budget, actualize expenses, secure business and location permits, plan video shoots and schedules, record and edit video projects, and even write scripts or design graphics. To become a video producer, one must have long-term experience in the field.
12. Interior Design Project Manager
Interior design project managers primarily oversee the project from conception to completion. They are responsible for planning, budgeting, organizing, and execution of the project. Their ultimate goal is to ensure the safety and welfare of the clients who will occupy the space they are working on.
They have to make decisions, delegate tasks to interior designers and other members of the team, and consult with clients about the area, design, and other preferences. They also need to ensure that the execution of the project adheres to the building code, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and that the preparation of contracts for clients' approval is carried out.
13. Industrial Designer
Industrial designers work with other industry professionals in creating and manufacturing industrial products like home appliances, toys, cars, sports equipment, materials, and supplies. They have to hold a formal education and apply art, business, and engineering techniques to create or design such products. Industrial designers should develop designs by sketching, rendering, and prototypes.
They have to regularly do meetings with other professionals like engineers and other designers to help them with the decision-making process. Other tasks include identifying manufacturing partners and resources, continuously developing new ideas and designs, evaluating the feasibility of plans, and maintaining expertise on product design ensuring adherence to the International Organization of Standardization and Good Manufacturing Practice.
14. Graphic Design Manager
These senior-level employees are responsible for supervising a graphics design team in an organization or company. Graphic design managers oversee the development of designs, concepts, and layouts. They have to present these design projects to stakeholders or the upper management for support and approval.
Also, they must delegate tasks to art designers, graphic designers, production designers, and other professionals needed in the execution of the project. Like most managers, they need to meet with clients or art directors to prepare and know their preferences for the project.
Product logos, websites, and illustrations are the essential elements in the execution of the project. Ensuring organized and up-to-date files are maintained, training and mentoring junior designers, and ensuring strict adherence to design guidelines are some of the other responsibilities of graphic design managers.
15. Motion Graphic Designers
Graphic designers develop designs through visuals, while motion graphic designers do the same with movement. Animators present concepts through a storyline while motion graphic designers give life to ideas or elements that usually don’t have any. Motion graphic designers create elaborate designs for a broad array of media such as the web, television, smartphones, and electronic devices.
They also collaborate with editors, producers, and other designers to work on a project and solve technical issues. Research and analysis on best techniques for motion graphics, maintaining best practices in organizing files, versioning control, and naming convention, and being knowledgeable about the current graphic designs are some of the tasks and responsibilities they need to handle.
16. Apparel Technical Designers
Apparel technical designers have become essential members of the fashion industry. They primarily take over a new design idea and work to ensure that products meet brand standards. They see to it that garments or accessories align with product specifications. Designers with pattern-making skills are best qualified for this job.
Apparel technical designers have to engage in quality control by attending product fittings, ensuring specific characteristics for the brand like displaying the company’s logo, and working and coordinating with advertising and marketing teams to produce effective advertisements on the product. Making a recommendation about pattern improvements, consulting pattern makers in creating new designs, and maintaining documentation for pattern designs are all part of an apparel technical designer’s tasks.
17. Set and Exhibit Designer
Set and exhibit designers work to design special exhibits and physical sets for movies, television, and theater sets. To do this, they have to collaborate with directors, writers, and the research team to identify appropriate styles and setups. They may also have to read scripts and do research on architectural styles to get more ideas on what the final set design should be. Their tasks may include estimating set-related costs, including construction and materials, selecting appropriate furniture, and designing wall and floor coverings.
They also prepare the floor plans and delegate specific work such as sketching and illustrating. They incorporate security systems into exhibit layouts. Group discussions and meetings are essential in this job. Set and Exhibit Designers work either in an office-style or warehouse-style setting.
18. Digital Designer
Digital design is a specialty in graphic design. This may include multimedia presentations, email and web ads, social media collateral, digital signage, pitch decks, and more. Digital designers mainly apply graphic design principles in creating digital graphic communication.
Their responsibilities may include designing and developing microsites, electronic media, and rich text emails, designing HTML emails and newsletters, collaborating with digital photographers and illustrators, and finally, staying up to date with digital trends. Digital designers must be knowledgeable in HTML coding, Flash, InDesign, Illustrator, and other software packages essential to digital design.
Illustrators create original pieces of artwork through still drawings for advertisements published in books, magazines, packaging, greeting cards, and newspapers. Illustrators either work on various projects or focus on one area. It is crucial for these creative professionals to know and understand the target audience and the concept of art appropriate for these audiences.
Illustrators must seek approval from upper management or even stakeholders before working on the final idea for the project. Other responsibilities may include refining designs using illustration software, setting budgets and timelines, ensuring the color and quality standards are met, formatting images through computer-aided design software, and keeping track of new designs and software. Some illustrators work either at home or in a studio.
20. Textile Designer
Textile designers create patterns for knitted, printed, and woven textiles. The textile design may include clothing and accessories, fabrics and furnishings, upholstery, and even industrial equipment. Some textile designers may be involved with a variety of textiles while some work in a specialty area.
They produce sketches and samples for presentation to customers, upper management, or stakeholders, assess production standards, use software applications for print machines, identify color arrangements, source fabrics, and materials, attend trade shows and exhibits, ensure projects are completed on time and budget, and keep up-to-date on textile design trends.
Most textile designers may have to work extra hours to meet deadlines or attend meetings with clients. Textile designers are mostly found in factories, smart design studios, or at the office.
Sculptors create three-dimensional pieces using stone, wood, plaster, marble, concrete, metal, and even blocks of ice. They design and construct their artwork using techniques and methods in carving, metalworking, whittling, chiseling, or shaping. They utilize tools such as chisels, mallets, gouges, and other hand tools to create the object. Most sculptors work freelance and do not have to depend on someone else.
Some work for commission-based pay and make a piece for a person or a company. They may also teach sculpting, reach out to galleries to showcase their work and select materials for new projects.
22. Jewelry Designer
Jewelry designers are professionals who are trained to design and make jewelry using a variety of materials such as gems, stones, precious metals, and crystals. These trained professionals create accessories for the ears, neck, hands, feet, and toes. They may create these accessories for mass production or produce a few of them for clients.
Jewelry designers discuss the client’s range of options, sketch out ideas by hand, 3D modeling, 3D construction, or using computer-aided design (CAD) software, adjust to mount to ensure a perfect fit, and meet client expectations. Working hours for employed jewelry designers are typically regular and do not require shifts while freelance jewelry designers have the flexibility to work hours that suit them.
23. Interior Designer
Interior designers work to set up interior spaces by making them functional, safe, and aesthetic. They determine space requirements, select colors, light, and furniture to set up a room, read blueprints, and are well-informed about building codes and inspection regulations.
They are responsible for defining project requirements, sketching preliminary designs, sourcing materials, and furnishings, preparing final plans, ensuring client expectations are met, producing samples and mood products, and collaborating with other designers, architects, engineers, and constructors. Research about industry changes and trends is also essential to succeed in this type of job.
24. Film/Video Editor
Video editing is crucial in the entertainment and marketing industry. It puts all shots into their proper sequence and gives the perfect flow of the film. The primary responsibility of film and video editors is to edit and assemble recorded raw materials, videos, graphics, audio, and texts into a qualified finished product ready for transmission, advertisement, broadcasting, or distribution.
Film and video editors arrange footage and match sound files, decide which shots are kept and which ones make the cut, add graphics and titles, capture studio-quality photographs and videos, work with other members of the creative team, present the final product to the management or producers, and manage all aspects of recording and editing. Film and video editors make use of editing software to produce films that suit the audience's expectations or preferences.
Videographers operate video cameras and other related equipment to capture important events, production of video documentaries, scouting videos, and production of television programs. In other words, they wear more than one hat. They can be directors, soundmen, and editors.
Videographers may direct people to capture certain angles and actions, edit these captured videos, and use audio mixing and lighting equipment for field or studio productions. They are responsible for completing preventive maintenance reports on videos and other production equipment, negotiating prices with clients, and tracking, as well as scheduling time spent in shooting, directing, editing, and post-production processes.
26. Graphic Designer
Graphic designers create visual concepts for print, digital, and mobile platforms. Their job may vary widely depending on what type of project they need to work on. Graphic designers establish a working relationship with clients to determine their goals, budgets, and expectations. They also develop design ideas and layouts for product illustrations, logos, and websites.
They prepare drafts and sketches based on the client’s preference and work with the creative directors and the marketing team to decide on the final design. Graphic designers are typically hired by advertising agencies, large print companies, multimedia companies, and television and broadcasting companies.
27. Art Professor
An art professor’s career falls under a broad category. Art professors not only teach art classes but also include drama and music classes. These professionals are also artists who contribute to the knowledge and skills acquired by undergraduate and graduate students. They work in colleges and universities, and most of them are tenured and are awarded a lifetime of employment.
Art professors teach art history, the basic principles of art, and art restoration. They supervise and assist students in their artwork, encourage creativity, and provide feedback and evaluation of student’s performance. If they are not in the classrooms, you can find them in art studios.
28. Craft and Fine Artist
Most craft and fine artists try to work with art away from traditional methods like sculpting, painting, or drawing. They produce or reproduce hand-made objects by using a variety of techniques for sale and exhibition. Materials or objects used may be glassware, textiles, pottery, metal, and wood.
Craft and fine artists create pieces that are designed to be functional. These professionals shape, cut or join materials, use visual techniques for color, space, composition, and perspective, select which materials to use, create sketches and templates or models to guide their work, and display their work at auctions and galleries.
29. Production Artist
Production artists are tasked with evaluating the final product or design. Aside from collecting, processing, and uploading files, production artists review the final copy or content in print or digital form. They ensure that the client’s expectations are met by checking standards in color, font, production quality, and more. They have to possess skills in graphic design and fine arts as these will help complete a great deal of work.
Also, they have to put the finishing touches, change the layout, get rid of redundancy in the final product, and catch typos, spot size, resolution, and font errors. Getting into this job means being under constant pressure and deadlines. They are expected to know how specific software works, such as Dreamweaver, Microsoft Project, and Macromedia Flash.
30. Kitchen and Bath Designer
Kitchen and bath designers are interior designers who specialize in designing kitchens and bathrooms. Before materials are bought, kitchen and bath designers have to visit the site and do a survey while communicating with clients. They have to ensure that clients approve of the patterns, colors, designs, and materials they have proposed.
Some of the responsibilities of a kitchen and bath designer include:
- planning a layout by using sketches and blueprints,
- being involved in sourcing, purchasing, freight, and delivery,
- handling a team of designers for large-scale projects,
- ensuring projects are completed on time and kept within the budget,
- and looking after the documentation and files of all the phases of project execution.
How exciting... Whether you are searching for an art teaching job or love to design kitchens and bathrooms (and everything imaginative in between), tapping into your creative side just does the heart good. Do you have what it takes to excel in a creative job market? Of course, you do! Good luck with your search. GradSchoolCenter.com is here to help!
Would you like more information about a career in Design? Take a look: THE ULTIMATE DESIGN CAREER GUIDE: SALARY AND DEGREE INFO