Computer Arts - - Industry Issues -

How do de­sign pay and prospects com­pare at dif­fer­ent scales? We take a look at three types of de­sign agency


Some of the best start­ing salaries for de­sign­ers can be found in well-funded start-ups. For ex­am­ple, re­search by Google Ven­tures found that de­sign salaries be­ing paid by tech start-ups in San Fran­cisco broadly re­flect those be­ing of­fered by much big­ger, es­tab­lished com­pa­nies. Larger agen­cies may of­fer more cor­po­rate perks, such as eq­uity in the com­pany, and have greater scope for in­ter­nal ca­reer moves, but the ‘muck­ing-in’ ap­proach at a start-up means you can gain a much broader range of ex­pe­ri­ence and can po­ten­tially own and adapt your role in­stead of mov­ing to a new one.


The for in­de­pen­dent-De­sign Week stu­dios Salary tended Sur­vey 2015to earn found slightly that less de­sign­ers (£33,364) workingon av­er­age than those at net­worked con­sul­tan­cies (£35,480). While medium-sized agen­cies may not of­fer the same salaries as big­ger, global firms, they pro­vide the best of both worlds – you’ll have op­por­tu­ni­ties for side­ways and up­wards moves, but will prob­a­bly still know the names of all of your col­leagues. Medium-sized agen­cies of­ten have a cul­ture of seek­ing pro­ject in­put from across the com­pany, so you’ll po­ten­tially have a chance to get stuck into a wide range of projects.


You’ll po­ten­tially find higher salaries at larger, more es­tab­lished agen­cies, with plenty of scope for ca­reer moves – which could in­clude a cross-global move to an of­fice in another coun­try. You’re likely to have a much more clearly-de­fined role, with dif­fer­ent skill sets clearly cov­ered off by des­ig­nated teams. Big­ger agen­cies can of­fer mul­ti­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties for free­lancers, but some will con­tract through smaller agen­cies rather than us­ing in­di­vid­u­als. The com­pany should have a big­ger bud­get for train­ing and other ben­e­fits, but there will also be more lay­ers of cor­po­rate hi­er­ar­chy to deal with.

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