Here's the scoop from the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook 2004-2007: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos090.htm
Among the five design occupations, graphic designers are expected to have the most new jobs through 2014; however, job seekers are expected to face keen competition for available positions.
Graphic designers with Web site design and animation experience will have the best opportunities.
A bachelor’s degree is required for most entry-level positions; however, an associate degree may be sufficient for technical positions.
About 3 out of 10 designers are self-employed; many do freelance work in addition to holding a salaried job in design or in another occupation.
Graphic designers held about 228,000 jobs in 2004. About 7 out of 10 were wage and salary designers. Most worked in specialized design services; advertising and related services; printing and related support activities; or newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers. Other graphic designers produced computer graphics for computer systems design firms or motion picture production firms. A small number of designers also worked in engineering services or for management, scientific, and technical consulting firms.
About 3 out of 10 designers were self-employed. Many did freelance work—full time or part time—in addition to holding a salaried job in design or in another occupation.
Job Outlook -
Employment of graphic designers is expected to grow about as fast as average for all occupations through the year 2014, as demand for graphic design continues to increase from advertisers, publishers, and computer design firms. Among the five different design occupations, graphic designers will have the most new jobs. However, graphic designers are expected to face keen competition for available positions. Many talented individuals are attracted to careers as graphic designers. Individuals with a bachelor’s degree and knowledge of computer design software, particularly those with Web site design and animation experience, will have the best opportunities.
Demand for graphic designers should increase because of the rapidly expanding market for Web-based information and expansion of the video entertainment market, including television, movies, video, and made-for-Internet outlets. Graphic designers with Web site design and animation experience will especially be needed as demand for design projects increase for interactive media—Web sites, video games, cellular telephones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and other technology. Demand for graphic designers also will increase as advertising firms create print and Web marketing and promotional materials for a growing number of products and services.
In recent years, some computer, printing, and publishing firms have outsourced basic layout and design work to design firms overseas. This trend is expected to continue and may have a negative impact on employment growth for lower level, technical graphic design workers. However, most higher-level graphic design jobs will remain in the U.S. and will focus on developing communication strategies, called strategic design, for clients and firms in order for them to gain competitive advantages in the market. Strategic design work requires close proximity to the consumer in order to identify and target their needs and interests. Graphic designers with a broad liberal arts education and experience in marketing and business management will be best suited for these positions.
Median annual earnings for graphic designers were $38,030 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $29,360 and $50,840. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,220, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $65,940. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of graphic designers were:
Architectural, engineering, and related services $42,740
Specialized design services 41,620
Advertising and related services 40,010
Printing and related support activities 32,830
Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers 32,390
The American Institute of Graphic Arts reported 2005 median annual total cash compensation for graphic designers according to level of responsibility. Entry-level designers earned a median salary of $32,000 in 2005, while staff-level graphic designers earned $42,500. Senior designers, who may supervise junior staff or have some decision-making authority that reflects their knowledge of graphic design, earned $56,000. Solo designers, who freelanced or worked under contract to another company, reported median earnings of $60,000. Design directors, the creative heads of design firms or in-house corporate design departments, earned $90,000. Graphic designers with ownership or partnership interests in a firm or who were principals of the firm in some other capacity earned $100,000.
Related Occupations -
Workers in other occupations in the art and design field include artists and related workers; commercial and industrial designers; fashion designers; floral designers; and interior designers. Other occupations that require computer-aided design skills include computer software engineers, drafters, and desktop publishers. Other occupations involved in the design, layout, and copy of publications include advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers; photographers; writers and editors; and prepress technicians and workers.