Web Designer Salary: Always Better with Skills Specialization

Web designers are responsible for the best (and worst) of the web. Any time you use a website with cool UX, you can thank a web designer for ideating it; conversely, if you find yourself on a web property so terrible it burns your eyes—well, a web designer was responsible for that atrocity, too. Given the importance of the role, what’s a typical web designer salary?

In broadest strokes, web designers handle the styling and layout of websites. This is far more than just drawing some wireframes for text and images and calling it a day; these tech pros must handle everything from user experience and accessibility (on the front-end, or user side) to SEO optimization and code quality (on the developer side).

As anyone who’s built or maintained a website will tell you, the consequences of poor design are enormous: if users become frustrated with how a site looks or works, engagement and page-views will suffer. That makes web designers incredibly important employees, even if a typical web designer salary doesn’t even begin to approach that of, say, an artificial intelligence (A.I.) researcher. Take a look at the rising pay of a “typical” web designer career, as broken down by location (and calculated by the Dice Salary Calculator):

As stated, those salaries are at the high end; here’s the full web developer salary range for someone five years into their career, again broken down by location:

One thing to point out: the bottom end of the web designer salary range is pretty low, even after a couple years’ worth of experience (under $40,000 per year, in some cities). What’s the solution? Learn specialized skills; for example, adding UX expertise to your CV can boost your salary by at least 6 percent, according to the Calculator. Adopting Drupal, an open-course content-management framework for maintaining website back-ends, can add five percent.

For those just starting out as web designers, it’s important to master the basics, including HTML and CSS; PHP, JavaScript, and XML also come into play. On a platform level, knowledge of WordPress, Indesign (or the wireframing tool of your choice) and Adobe Photoshop will prove key for many clients. And of course, there are the soft skills such as time management, which will prove essential when you’re juggling multiple tasks simultaneously. (And if you’re interested in a related career as a UX designer, check out these job-hunting tips.)