There is, undoubtedly, high demand for web designers.
Every year, more and more people use the internet for various reasons — research, shopping, entertainment and more, and this number is going to increase even more in 2021.
The ever growing rise in demand means that more businesses increase their online presence and create websites to entice users to purchase their products or services.
So, what does this demand for professionally built and well designed WordPress websites mean for your earning potential?
Well, if you’re wondering how much website designers really do make, it actually depends on a number of factors:
- Your employment status
- Your location
- Your experience level
- Your specialty
In the following web designer salary guide, we’re going to first look at the average salaries that web designers can expect to make. Then, we’ll break down the various factors that may decrease or increase those earnings.
Average Web Designer Salary
There are a variety of salary-tracking resources online that tell us how much money website designers are earning today, whether it’s by the hour or per annum (yearly).
The figures differ slightly, depending on the source, so let’s take a look at what they each say about the average salaries for web designers in the United States:
If we average these numbers together, we end up with a salary of $24 /hour or $51,564/year for web designers.
In case you’re curious, a web developer makes about $10,000 to $20,000 more a year than a web designer does.
Depending on factors like where you live, your level of experience, as well as your area of expertise, your earning potential may be lower or higher than these estimates. Let’s have a look at how the following factors affect how much you make as a web designer.
The 4 Factors That Affect Web Designer Salaries
First things first — you have to make enough money to cover your expenses. So before you start worrying about your earning potential, make sure you’re calculating your expenses accordingly.
Then, turn your attention to these four key factors that will impact how much you make as a web designer:
1. Employment Type
There are a variety of ways in which you might be employed as a web designer, and these can easily change as you advance in your career.
According to Dribbble’s 2019 Global Design Survey, these are the most common employment types:
- Full-time employment at an agency
- Full-time employment in-house
- Part-time employment
Focusing strictly on web designers who work full-time — whether it be as a freelancer or an employee — you can expect some variation in what you get paid based on your work arrangement. Though it’s not likely to do with who employs you and more likely about how you work for them.
For example, Dribbble found a difference in earnings between those who worked on-site at and those who worked remotely:
Remote Design Salaries (U.S.)
Annual salary in USD
On-site — 40%
On-site — 23%
On-site — 6%
Remote — 60%
Remote — 38%
Remote — 11%
This difference can likely be attributed to the fact that most remote workers are freelance, which means a client doesn’t pay for benefits like time off, health insurance, 401k, and so on.
It’s not only that though. If an employer doesn’t have to spend money on desk space, Internet bandwidth, and other on-site resources, they can put those extra funds towards paying remote workers.
Then again, these salaries might actually even themselves out when you look at this from the freelancer’s perspective.
Sure, remote designers might take home more money than their employed counterparts… But they have to pay for their own taxes, business software, payment processing fees, time off, and so on.
2. Experience Level
A web designer’s experience level most definitely influences how much money they make.
Generally speaking, there are three levels of web designers:
Entry-level web designers are at the very start of their careers, with under three years of experience.
They understand how to design websites for modern users, but might not have a firm grasp on advanced design and development techniques yet.
When working for an agency, they’re likely to be under close supervision until they get the hang of things. They may also be slowly integrated into the workflow, being assigned smaller tasks rather than whole projects to complete.
Here’s the breakdown of average entry-level salaries in the U.S.:
Entry-level Web Designer Salary
Mid-level web designers typically have between three and ten years of experience.
Junior designers are well-trained and experienced in user interface design, adhering to web standards, and manipulating code in order to make a website do exactly what they want.
Web designers are able to independently manage projects and may also be responsible for training and supervising their entry-level peers (when in an agency setting).
Here’s the breakdown of average mid-level salaries for web designers, in the U.S.:
Mid-level Web Designer Salary
Senior web designers have reached the highest levels of experience that a web designer can achieve. That is if they decide not to become a director of a design department or branch out into a specialty. They have worked in this field (if not for the same agency) for more than 10 years.
Senior designers have extensive experience in all things web design and are the go-to designer to handle high-profile, critical, or super-urgent jobs that need extra care.
They’re likely responsible for managing the design department (the team members, their processes, and even their schedules) as well as serving as the liaison between the design department and clients.
Here’s the breakdown of average senior-level salaries for web designers in the U.S.:
Senior Web Designer Salary
This one is a huge factor in terms of how much a website designer gets paid.
This isn’t really due to one country valuing its designers or developers any more or less than others. It’s more about the cost of living as well as the demand for design talent that influences how much they get paid.
Let’s start by looking at a random sampling of web designer salaries from Salary Expert.
We’ve selected countries from around the world and have broken up the salaries into three levels:
€ 43 371
€ 60 678
€ 74 896
41 381 €
57 966 €
71 461 €
38 409 €
53 737 €
66 328 €
Hong Kong SAR (HKD)
New Zealand (NZD)
640 483 ₽
886 012 ₽
1 106 042 ₽
South Africa (ZAR)
South Korea (KRW)
United Kingdom (GBP)
United States (USD)
If you’re curious about what you could (or should) be earning in your native country, this is a great resource for that.
You can also use it to explore what your salary would be, say, if you lived in a major metropolitan city like Rome versus a small town like Siena. Because it’s not just the country you live in that affects your earnings, but also the smaller localities in which you live.
The same thing goes for states within the United States. Dribbble’s report, for instance, provides a sampling of web designer salary data from different states:
And as PayScale points out, salaries can greatly differ not just between states, but between cities within the United States:
“Employees with Web Designer in their job title in San Francisco, California earn an average of 55.6% more than the national average. These job titles also find higher than average salaries in New York, New York (25.0% more), and Seattle, Washington (22.4% more). The lowest salaries can be found in San Diego, California (2.8% less).”
Granted, this is likely due to the population density and greater competition within these metropolitan and tech-friendly areas of the country. This makes the cost of living more expensive, which requires employers and clients to pay their web designers a wage that’s commensurate with that.
Last but not least, we have a web designer’s area of expertise that influences how much they make.
While we couldn’t find data on how much web designers make based on industry niche, we were able to find data on how much user interface (UI) designers, user experience (UX) designers, and senior UX designers make.
UI designers focus strictly on the look, functionality, and usability of a website. UX designers, on the other hand, are more concerned with how the journey through a website “feels” to visitors.
Here’s the breakdown of how much these web design specialties make in the United States:
Senior UX Designer
If you’re curious about pursuing a career as a UX designer, know that your salary will be dependent on location just as a web designer’s salary is.
On the UX Designer Salaries website, you’ll find a breakdown of the average UX designer salary based on where they live in the world as well as their years of experience:
You’ll also find the same breakdown of data for states in the U.S.:
Now, this data comes from UX designer submissions and there are limited submissions from countries and states. That’s why some of the numbers may look off in terms of the years of experience-to-salary. However, the averages should give you a good idea of how much you stand to make if you reside in one of these areas.
One of the first things you probably wondered about your chosen career is, “How much do website designers make?”
After all, who do you think the terms “starving artist” or “feast or famine” were created for?
Thankfully, as the data above shows us, web designers are making a pretty good living for themselves — all around the globe. Just keep in mind that the choices you make in terms of the skills you learn, the number of years you invest in your career, the specialty you take on, and even where you live can all affect your earning potential.