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Annual design salary survey reveals modest increases
May 27, 2010

According to the 2010 AIGA|Aquent Survey of Design Salaries released this week, designers’ salaries rose slightly in 2009, ending a decade of only modest inflation-paced gains. Like many in other professions, designers experienced a soft market as corporations and advertising agencies reduced their staffs and outsourced design work to freelancers as part of the general economic slowdown. Yet AIGA, the professional association for design, offers advice on how designers can remain competitive in this market and develop the skills needed as the economy regains its momentum.
With insights and advice from prominent design professionals on remaining competitive and successful, this year’s AIGA|Aquent Survey of Design Salaries will be useful to designers at all stages of their careers. The most extensive compensation study in the design industry, it is now more than ever a critical tool for designers. And it is just one of many activities AIGA has developed to serve the professional designer with strategies for success, among them “Defining the Designer of 2015,” a set of recommended competencies the successful designer must have to compete in the global economy.
“We must take advantage of the shift that is occurring in the economy to prepare for the new normal,” said AIGA Executive Director Richard Grefé. “When we emerge from the Great Recession, there will be opportunities for designers who are prepared to create noticeable value for clients.”
The good news is that the Design Leaders Confidence Index reflects strong belief in an economic recovery, showing that the profession’s leading designers see strong indications that the design economy will be recovering over the coming months. Further, AIGA maintains that designers’ creativity and forward-thinking tendencies are a unique advantage in solving clients’ problems, and designers can leverage that advantage by training and developing skills now.
“Individual designers can increase their value through consistent training and professional development that allows them to move up in the range of responsibilities they assume. This is not unique to design—continuous learning is critical for all professionals in a rapidly evolving business environment,” said Grefé. “But by applying design thinking skills in solving clients’ more complex strategic problems, designers create even greater value for clients, which warrants greater compensation.”
AIGA has been working with Aquent, the only global talent agency that specializes in marketing and design, for more than a decade to quantify and measure compensation for the design industry, providing valuable information to employers and employees alike. The most comprehensive study of its kind, the AIGA|Aquent Survey of Design Salaries is commissioned annually by AIGA with the generous support of Aquent, and in cooperation with Communication Arts magazine. The survey will be mailed to AIGA members and Aquent clients this month.
To learn more about AIGA resources and tools, download a PDF of the survey and use AIGA’s design salaries interactive calculator, visit www.aiga.org/professional-resources.

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