5 Best US Cities to Work in Graphic Design

Cities are hailed as creative, technical hotspots. In short, they’re perfect hubs for graphic designers.

However, each city has its strengths and weaknesses, making some more suited for job opportunities than others. Here’s a list of the best US cities to work in graphic design, counting down from number five.

5. New York, NY

Of course NYC makes the list. It’s considered a highly creative and innovative city filled with several museums and galleries, like The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Agora Gallery, to name a few.

For graphic designers, New York has opportunities in companies like Ralph Lauren, Aeropostale and CBS as well as plenty of other designers, publishers and even upscale restaurants.

It’s the place to go when you’re just starting out. You can freelance, seek traditional employment or attend any number of design schools. NYC has an average graphic designer salary of about $48,500.

4. Los Angeles, CA

L.A. is another typical design hub with a location quotient of 1.52 and high employment opportunities from companies like Forever 21, Creative Circle and Fox Broadcasting.

Los Angeles is truly famous for its top design programs in schools like Otis College of Art and Design, Loyola Marymount University and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. These programs help students become more tech-savvy with animation and web design experience. This improves their chances of employment not just in California but on a national level. Salaries average out at around $44,000.

3. Austin, TX

This city comes in at number three, because it’s one of the fastest-growing cities in America. Its projected economic growth rate through 2016 is 6.1 percent, and it has a little-changing unemployment rate of 6.9 percent.

It’s also rapidly increasing in technology-driven companies and employs some of America’s highest paid animators. As an added bonus, cost of living is below average, and a graphic designer’s average salary is $41,000.

2. Minneapolis, MN

Known as a marketing and advertising center, Minneapolis has a graphic design location quotient of 1.7, more than any other city. Some of the top advertising agencies are based in Minneapolis and have clients like Target, Amtrak, Best Buy, American Express and Dairy Queen.

Minneapolis also has higher employment levels and an average graphic design salary of about $51,000, a fair amount to live in this medium-sized city. With plenty of culture and marketing positions for those interested in this particular field, Minneapolis is a great place for graphic designers.

1. San Francisco, CA

This city has just about everything. It’s home to top companies like Microsoft, Gap and Williams-Sonoma, and it’s the top paying metropolitan area for graphic design with an above average graphic design salary of $58,500.

It also has some of the best graphic design firms in the world. For example, Landor Associates reinvented Federal Express as FedEx and created their logo. This company started with one man’s vision in a small San Francisco apartment.

The city also dominates in self-employed designers with an average freelancer salary of $54,000, but the flexible nature of freelancers makes opportunities highly competitive.

What really makes San Francisco number one is its atmosphere. Graphic designers can thrive on the music, art, architecture, public parks, organic food and tightly-knit community. It’s actually been ranked as one of the happiest and healthiest cities in America.

If you’re looking to enter the graphic design scene, it may be a good idea to check out these cities.

Think your city should have made the list? Tell me why in the comments below!

About the author

Lexie Lu

Hello! My name is Lexie and I have a fervor for design, writing, and coffee. I graduated with a dual major in Creative Writing and Commercial Design, and through those grueling study hours (facilitated by coffee, of course) I always found time to write for myself.

My posts feature design trends throughout all industries and show how the field is always changing. There’s never a dull moment in the design world!


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