10 ways to earn more money as a designer

Want to make more money? Then take a look at your marketability: what are the industry's most in-demand skills - and do you have them? Would taking on more responsibility make you more valuable, or could you receive a better salary at a bigger design firm?

Whether you're starting a new job or seeking a raise, salary data and a strong understanding of the most wanted skills will strengthen your negotiation power. So before you sit down with your boss, make sure you're confident of your worth. Here's what you need to do...

01. Cash comparison

Before you can persuade your boss that you're being undervalued, you'll need some salary data to hand. Use a salary checker or survey to get an idea of what everyone else is earning. For example, try The Brand Republic Jobs Salary Checker tool for the UK, AIGA's tool for the US, or for Canada see the results of RGD and Creative Niche's 2012/2013 survey or TCG's 2013 guide. You can also view worldwide information in Coroflot's design salary guide (you'll need to submit your own details first).

02. Raise hopes

Check whether your employer runs routine pay reviews. If not, try asking for one. The Major Players Salary Survey 2012 found that one in six creative and marketing employees in the UK got an internal promotion last year. Of those who didn't, 47 per cent still received a pay rise. If you don't ask...

03. Make it happen

Don't wait for management to offer you a promotion: make it happen yourself. Look for opportunities inside your studio or agency to take on new responsibilities, or consider a sideways move - apply for similar positions in larger, more lucrative companies.

04. Skills that pay

Coding, software engineering - highly technical skills are undoubtedly in high demand in design. But employers don't just want technical skills: they want people who understand how technology can be used to create new business. If you know how to apply these resources, you'll be valued.

05. Stop, collaborate, and listen

According to the Creative Group's Paylandia survey, 39 per cent of creative employers say teamwork and collaboration skills are the most important factors when making a new hire, while 16 per cent rate creativity as the number one thing they look for.

06. Where's the money at?

Roles in packaging, exhibition graphics and branding tend to pay slightly better than print graphics, while the digital and information technology sectors offer some of the best salaries around. Digital skills are in particular demand: according to creative career expert the Boss Group, the most coveted skillsets lie in user experience, mobile and interactive design.

07. You have to be in it...

The likes of Design Week, Creative Pool, Brand Republic and Behance list creative jobs, as does Creative Bloq, but employers are increasingly turning to social media to fill vacancies - so make sure you have a professional presence on Twitter and LinkedIn, and keep an eye on what's being posted.

08. Capital calling

Are capital cities more lucrative? In the UK, creatives working in London earn 10-15 per cent more on average, according to a Design Week salary survey. But there are plenty of vacancies in other areas of the UK, such as Manchester and the north-west - where the cost of living is cheaper. Outside London, the digital sector pays particularly well.

09. Premium places

Elsewhere, capital cities don't always have the best-paying jobs. In America, the highest design salaries are found in San Jose and San Francisco, California and Framingham, Massachusetts, followed by Washington and New York.

10. Perk Up

Earning more cash doesn't always mean you'll be better off, so if you've decided to move to pastures new, don't just look at salary figures. Take the value of any company benefits into account, such as pension provision, parental leave and company perks. Bear the cost of local living in mind as well.

Words: Anne Wollenberg Image: Jared Nickerson

These tips were first published in The Design Career Handbook from Computer Arts.

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