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zach b

how much do you get paid?

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hi i am curious as to what the average salary is for someone working as a designer

at a post production house or design studio/boutique. i am guessing there is a difference

between freelance and staff positions. Also do you usually get benefits as a staff employee at one of these places?

 

thanks

 

zach

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i dont really see it as bold, i mean im just asking for an average salary im not asking for specifics from anyone in particular and i dont think asking if you get benefits to be that personal a question. But whatever i thought i would ask on the board it seems like a good place for answers

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I hate that no one ever has the balls to answer this question. It can only help everyone that we all have decent reference for knowing how much to charge. Here's how it breaks down, in a very general way:

 

LOCATION: You're likely to earn more per day in major cities (NYC, LA, etc.)

 

CLIENT/EMPLOYER: Like in any industry, some employers pay better. A boutique or startup studio may not have the reserves to pay what an established studio pays. Neither of them likely have the income that a network has, but a network also probably has pay caps and standard salaries and all kinds of limitations.

 

STAFF/FREELANCE: It's a trade-off. Staffers have benefits and steady pay. Freelancers do not. Freelancers therefore charge more so they can pay for their own 'benefits' and so that they have money when there's no work.

 

TRADE: Animators, designers, compositors, etc., probably charge slightly different rates. Some people do concept, some do production. The value of these things is different in various contexts. I'd like to know what the relative rates are, but I don't because I mainly get paid for design/direction.

 

POSITION: A creative director typically makes more than an art director and so on. The rule of hierarchy and management pay.

 

SKILL/DEMAND: You can probably charge more if you're really good at what you do, because chances are, if you're really good, you're in demand, and we all know how supply and demand works.

 

ECONOMICS + THE "FEAST OR FAMINE" CLAUSE: Obviously, budgets shift due to economic swings and your rate may have to shift accordingly. As a freelancer, sometimes you'll have too much work (potential to charge more, take the highest bidder), while other times you'll be dry for a while (maybe you lower your rate to entice business).

 

 

These are the variables, but there's no formula to help figure it out. You'll just have to talk with people, test the waters, and negotiate until you and your client/employer are happy. I don't know what the going rate is for a junior whatever now, but here's how it went for me...

 

I'm in LA, and when I was just out of school, I worked as a designer/animator and made about $250/day at a cable network. After 6 months I started charging $350/day at a design boutique. I incrementally pushed my way up to $600/day over the next few years working at well-known shops around town. 4-5 yrs in, I had a corporate freelance job doing concept/design/direction/everything that paid hourly, at the end of which I was making $85/hr. Studios refuse to pay as much for design, so after the corporate job, I went to $700-$750/day. I, sort of intentionally, haven't worked much in the last few months so i can't say how my rate would be affected in the current economic climate. But my rate is based on averages for my location, the clients i work for, what i do for them, and how well I do it. I don't hesitate to say that i'm not an ultra-rockstar designer, but I'm very good at what I do and I charge accordingly.

 

Hopefully that breaks the ice a little and we can all share what we're making, for mutual benefit.

Edited by Binky

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thanks so much that was the type of insight and answer i was hoping for, im trying to make a decision were

to take my career next so this topic was something i wanted to research and ask questions about.

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I am freelance, I charge $50 an hour, I am in Georgia. I do ok. The cost of living here is not very expensive. Sometimes I get worried about not working enough, and just when I start to freak out I get my next job and everything is fine. Maybe someday I will look for a full time job again. I am far from being really good at this, I am certainly not a super designer, but I am pretty confident in my skills. So there. hat's how much I make. I agree with Binky 100%, I don't see it as a big deal so that people can get an idea of how to rate themselves.

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I agree with Binky 100%, I don't see it as a big deal so that people can get an idea of how to rate themselves.

 

I think it might be different for full-timers. As a freelancer, you set your own rate, so perhaps its easier to discuss.

When discussing a full-time salary, you're not only going public with your financial information, but your employer's as well. Some companies will fire you if you discuss salary information with other employees.

Other than etiquette, perhaps this is where the discomfort comes from and why such conversations occur only in presence of friends, prospective employers, and/or alcohol.

 

I do commend those that come out and share though :)

Edited by KGB

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alternate acct created for obvious reasons

 

it varies

 

think time (paperwork/sketching/collab) - $45 p/h

photoshop/illustrator/ae/video time - $75 p/h

heavy 3d modeling/anim/some ae - $125 p/h

 

if client is present, as above x2

 

2006 - $104,000

2007 was a banner year at $182,000

2008 was way down at $85,000

2009 is on the way up with a full schedule so far

 

i don't personally know anyone else at this income level --i get the specific feeling that i am an anomoly in this area, and i must admit that my design chops are easily trashed by many on this board.

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Which city are you working in?

 

alternate acct created for obvious reasons

 

it varies

 

think time (paperwork/sketching/collab) - $45 p/h

photoshop/illustrator/ae/video time - $75 p/h

heavy 3d modeling/anim/some ae - $125 p/h

 

if client is present, as above x2

 

2006 - $104,000

2007 was a banner year at $182,000

2008 was way down at $85,000

2009 is on the way up with a full schedule so far

 

i don't personally know anyone else at this income level --i get the specific feeling that i am an anomoly in this area, and i must admit that my design chops are easily trashed by many on this board.

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AIGA has an annual salary survey. It's a pretty good starting point.

 

 

AIGA Salary Survey

 

 

p.s. remember, if you go the freelance route, you might make $100k but the Feds will take 25-35% of that. If you live in a state with income tax, they will take their share too!

Edited by mamurphy

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When discussing a full-time salary, you're not only going public with your financial information, but your employer's as well. Some companies will fire you if you discuss salary information with other employees.

 

Exactly. And, which complicates matters further, if you divulge your current salary in public you only are handing ammo to your next employer in those salary talks. No point in providing them with additional ways to "keep you down". Beyond that, I'm really wondering, though, why people always ask such questions. It should be clear to anyone what minimum monthly cost of living he has and how much on top you want added for your spare time pleasures. Even if you compare your own work to more conventional professions like carpenters, plumbers, sales personnel, engineers etc., mere logic will reveal the truth eventually. That is, for the area you live in with regards to company size and what kind of work the company does primarily.

 

Mylenium

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p.s. remember, if you go the freelance route, you might make $100k but the Feds will take 25-35% of that. If you live in a state with income tax, they will take their share too!

 

you need a better accountant.

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I agree that it is better that these things are as public as possible. I've often worked in union shops where everyone knew exactly how much everyone was making and it helped undercut some of the "begger thy neighbor" stuff that happens in our world. It helps set standard rates. Obviously it is harder to divulge personal information when you are on staff, but I've been around so I can speak in general terms.

 

This is only my experience working in New York in design shops, not corporate:

 

Freelance:

 

Junior designer/animator: $400 - $500 a day

Senior designer/animator: $500 - $600 a day

The guys/girls who really know that they are doing and will get it done the first time, fast with no mistakes: $600 - $800 a day. I'll say that a lot of houses will not pay this rate unless they know you. When I was freelancing I often had to negotiate a lower project fee the first time I worked with a new house, before I could charge my full rate.

 

Staff:

 

Junior: $50k - $60k

Senior: $60k - $80k

AD: $80 - $100K

CD: $100K on up

 

This is what I was seeing before the financial crisis. Now who knows what is going to happen? Good luck.

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in a partially more serious response...probably way less than I should (lets say under 40), given all that I do (tho motion only makes up about 5% of my work load...I just enjoy it, hence why I'm here :) )

Edited by 7twelve

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450€ to 500€ per day, as a Freelance Designer / 2D & 3D Animator in Munich - Germany, with 10 years experience.

 

I know guys who charge only 300€ and others who charge up to 700€, depending on their experience, software knowledges (3D?) and working speed.

Edited by levante

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First, I want to echo finegrit's post on NYC levels of compensation. Baseline is 400. Any experienced (say 2 years out of school avg) designer/animator should not be getting less than 500. If you are, you're working at the wrong shop.

 

Going above 500 is less black and white. As Binky said, corporate clients will dish out more $$ (and i'll add for generally shittier projects) than design shops. Also, some shops are willing to pay more than others. But as long as you don't go crazy and scare em off with high numbers, a studio will be upfront with you and tell you if they can't afford the price you're quoting. At that point you have to decide to live with the paycut or move on to greener pastures.

 

I'll also add that I have noticed some slowdown in business in NYC. It's not drastic, but the pond has definitely shrunk and I suspect this will effect compensation.

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Junior: $50k - $60k

AD: $80 - $100K

 

This is where it gets tricky, seen as every kid fresh out of college seems to call themselves AD's!

 

Ha, these crazy kids.

 

A simpler way to look at this is: if your reel is dope and you have chops, you can charge a lot. the kids can call themselves whatever they want but that's not going to get them hired at Design Shop A for $800 a day. If your do have the aforementioned qualities you may get hired at that rate depending on the size of the shop and the budget for the project. (assuming you're in a big city)

 

Also, ADs and CDs should probably have been in the business long enough that they don't need to ask these kinds of questions.

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In London I don't think salaries are that amazing for designers. Editors get paid more than designers ;)

 

But I know when I freelanced it was between £250-300 a day. That's middleweight level (3-5 years). If you're really good, and the design house know you then I'm sure it could be more.

 

In my experience here are the average salary bands (from talking to friends and colleagues in the business)

 

Salaries range from

£15k-£25k for juniors

£25k-£32k for middleweights

and £30k+ for Seniors

 

Who knows what Art Directors get. It depends whether they're an 'Art Director' or actually and Art Director. If you know what I mean ;)

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