Compensation in the design industry has remained relatively flat, according to the most recent AIGA|Aquent Survey of Design Salaries. Now more than ever, designers, hiring managers, design students, educators and design firms rely on this annual survey as a career and staffing tool. And with a new web-based format and expanded categories covering more design disciplines across the United States, this year's survey will be particularly useful.
The Design Salaries website, created by Gesture Theory, marks the beginning of a transition toward a more interactive way of presenting and utilizing these results. New data visualizations make this study, the most comprehensive of its kind in the design industry, easy to navigate despite a dense collection of data points.
A Changing Profession
The survey's expanded set of positions reflects the changing nature of the communication design profession and sets a benchmark for salaries across a broad range of design functions-such as Mobile App Developer, Motion Graphics Developer, Usability Analyst and Web Content Strategist.
Beyond the survey itself, a broader read of the design economy indicates a shifting employment landscape since the recession began in 2007. According to AIGA's quarterly Design Leaders Confidence Index, for example, design leaders' optimism has been rising steadily for the past three quarters. Yet sobering facts remain: approximately 12,000 students of communication design will graduate from four-year programs each year, more than can be absorbed into the current workforce.
"For all designers and creative professionals, it is important to take every opportunity to build skill levels and broad knowledge, even during economic slowdown," said AIGA Executive Director Richard Grefe in a statement about the results. "If designers are to provide effective communication, messaging and branding in the new global economy, they must understand the cultural context for design solutions and clients' needs. This will depend upon knowledge, judgment and agility, not just skills."