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  • Average salary for web designer & web developer jobs

    By Danno

    At the time of writing this, job giant SimlpyHired.com claims to have over 5.8 million jobs in their database. According to their web design and development job data, the salary range for a typical position in the US web industry is $55k to $74k. This spans general web design and development through to specialist niches such as user interface design.

    Average web job salaries for 2008.Job data by Simply Hired

    Average salaries in web design and development for September, 2008.

    What surprised me the most was that flash design and development jobs have a lower average than general web design and development positions. I’d always assumed that the niche skill set of working with Flash paid better, not worse.

    Also interesting is that along with user interface developers, project managers are pretty much the highest paid position.  Not surprising given that the average PM needs to be able to understand (and speak) fluent Geekanese with developers and then translate that into a language that the average client can understand.

    The data & money.

    In a nutshell, what this data tells us is that vanilla web designers are worth the least.  Along with project managers, peeps that can design and code user interfaces are worth the most.  Naturally full time jobs pay less per hour than freelance and contract jobs but there are trade offs galore. Full time people generally have to sucker it through traffic, work nine to five, go to meetings, get paid vacation time etc.  Freelancers march to the beat of their own drum and likewise incur benefits and disadvantages of their own.

    Me & my goals.

    I had modest goals for my life as a freelancer. I wanted to work a light work week so I could have more free time to spend as I wish. Also important to me was working from home so that I could nix having to commute. And lastly, I wanted to make above average income.

    It took me a little while to work out how to achieve these things goals but with persistent trial and error, I got there. In my last year as a full time freelancer (2006) I made about $90k working approximately 25 hours a week.  I’m (by far) not the best web designer around so I figured I was doing something right.  I subsequently wrote The Elite Freelancing Method to teach people the same techniques and best practices I used to reach my goals.

    What about you?

    Are you making above or below average? Would you like to be making more? Have you struck a good work/life balance?  If so, what are some of the most effective strategies you have implemented to make it all happen … or what are some of the main challenges impeding you?  Lets hear it in the comments.

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    About the author

    Danno started freelancing in 1996. He is the co-founder and (ex) President of Graphics.net, owner of FeedIcons.com, EliteFreelancing.com, FastCharacters.com and SteelAndSnow.com. He digs wind, waves, guitars and circles. Follow Danno on Twitter.

    Comments on this article...

    • Blake:

      I would definitely like to be making a good living off of my freelance web design and developing work. I am actually just getting started in the whole freelancing gig, but it is something that I would like to do. Web developing and design is a passion of mine, and I would love to pursue the passion. And at the same time, as you said, prevent commuting and the hassle of 9 to 5.

      I’ve just recently started a blog of my own called, The Rise Up. I urge everyone to go and check it out and leave comments so I can get it rolling! Thanks!



    • Sergio Ordoñez:

      When you mean the web industry I think you mean the USA web industry, I really doubt that is the average salary in any other country (maybe Germany or UK).

      Im freelancing for around 4 and my salary is a little bit above the agerage salary, though in Spain the salary of a graphic designer is below 20.000US$/year. For a experienced web designer it wouldnt be over 25.000-30.0000US/year.

      Would be nice seeing that statistics by countries, not sure if you have any info about that.

      Nice blog :)

    • Danno:

      @Blake: You’re in an exciting position. Getting started in today’s economic conditions is going to prove additionally challenging … and rewarding when you gain some victories.

      @Sergio: Hmm you are right. I’m going to look into the USA thing and update the post accordingly. Cheers.

    • Blake:

      I’m trying to get into the “niche” web design/developing field. Meaning high quality flash design and stuff like that. From what I see, today, these are starting to take a rise compared to basic HTML/CSS designed web sites. Even though according to these figures, flash designers are one of the lowest paid. I’d say staying freelance in something like this would be the best way to go. Thanks for the reply Danno.

    • Shawn:

      Hey, great article man, nice research. I found your site doing a google search for “average freelance income”, which people seem to find my site using. I figured I should write a blog post about it.

      Anyway, I’ll link your post in mine, great resource.

    • jowant:

      nice info, i expected for salary on other project to the future, In Indonesian salary scope of work Web Design is, lower …

    • Erick:


      A few questions:

      1. What is the difference between a web designer and web developer?

      2. As a novice.. What degrees should one obtain to become a web designer or web developer?

      3. What’s your educational background?


    • Danno:

      Hey Erick.

      Typically, designers are front-end web workers and developers are back-end web workers. Most people in our field cross over these disciplines in varying amounts.

      Not sure about degrees, I don’t have any and couldn’t advise you there as I am self-taught.

      For ten plus years I’ve studied at the Applied Academy of Google. ;-)

    • Erick:


      Thanks for getting back to me! A couple more questions.. Is your book for the novice who wants become a freelance web designer/web producer? As a novice, and a resonably intelligent person.. How long does it take to absorb the fundatmentals, go through trial and errors, and begin to make some $$ as a professional?



    • Danno:

      Erick … the book is geared for all levels. I’m a firm believer that there are only a handful of superstar designers and then there’s the rest of us. What really matters is being good enough for your client base and since there are many different levels of buyers out there there is a niche for everyone. The book shows you how to how to build your client base and keep your clients happy.

      This is a huge topic and I could go on, but that’s why I wrote a book! I say just buy it.

      It’s well priced and backed with a money back guarantee. You’ve got nothing to lose … go ahead and judge for yourself.


    • MP King:


      Thank you for the honest input. I’m researching for a college paper came across your site while looking for salary numbers. I have to say, your information has been the most helpful and the most inspiring so far, making me really glad and excitied to learn more and get started in the field. Have had an interest for some time and now just beginning to take the steps to learn. I will definitely return to your page to keep up with your latest contributions and expertise on the subject.


      MP King

    • Danno:

      Hey MP. Glad to hear it and good luck with your paper.

    • Marco:

      I think these figures nare pretty accurate in the US. I did the corporate ($120K but in the dotCom bubble) and freelance route ($95K). I am now a freelancer and in the process of hiring my wife a couple of subcontractor to try to expand the business. The economy has been a boon for me. Never been busier!?!.
      I think the secret is to know a bit of everything, be able to learn fast and specialize in something popular. For me it was Open Source software. When I got sick I stopped working. I came back and I did not have a support system anymore but I found it again in Open Source software.

    • Marco:

      I have been thinking about this report in regard to Flash Developers.
      I know flash well and I used to do some Flash development in the day. I was a beta tester for the program that preceded Flash and eventually was bought by Macromedia.

      Flash is very time consuming. Like all timeline based work (video/audio editing, 3D design, etc) it takes forever to get anything done. Save for the few clients that have the budget, most Flash work is probably underpaid and undervalued when comparing the time it take and what you can charge.

    • vitiligo:

      I really liked your good blog! The info you provide is mind-blowing ! I think im gonna stick around and read one of your posts. Yours truly

    • Brian Miller:

      I'm doing some research on freelance salary potential, I don't see how you can make 90k a year doing web design and development (graphic design, html/css, php, etc)?

      If you take 90,000 and divide it by an average of $2500 per job/site that means you'd have to create 36 sites a year or 3 a month.

      I only do my freelance on the side part time but I'd find it hard to average $2500 per site and even harder to get 3 jobs a month.

      What are you opinions? Is this unrealistic or very obtainable? What are other ways you generate income and what % comes from those avenues?

    • Daniel Vivarelli:

      Hey Brian. There really is no quick answer to your question/comment of "… how you can make 90k a year doing web design …". The answer is bigger than a blog comment and with time, practice and trial and error you will work out what to focus on, what to measure and tweak and what to let slide when it comes to being happy and profitable as a web worker.

      Since this is broad and deep subject is why (shameless plug) I wrote a concise how-to manual on the methods I use. There is a link to it in the sidebar of this site (big graphic "Elite Freelancing Method". This consists of tactics which I employ as part of an overall strategy to get clients and keep them happy, work less and make more $ for the time I put into my business. I'm not advocating it's the only method to be a happy and profitable web nerd, however, this formula has worked well for me.

      Hope this helps.

    • Steve:

      I'm vastly underpaid!

    • mohsen:

      i'm a graphic designer ( web & print) web designer & flash designer & flash developer & user interface designer form IRAN ,I am an expert in css & xhtml & dreamwaver & photoshop & corel draw & freehand & fireworks & flash & action script 2.0 & action script 3.0& template design for joomla , wordpress , phpnuke , MT ,vbulletin and i know some php & my sql ,
      but my salary is below 5.000US$/year in IRAN

    • Links:

      […] payscale – elite […]

    • Arun:

      Thanks for the valuable information..

    • Richard:

      First off I want to say I enjoyed this post and discussion, and that I am curious what rates you were charging, on average per site, to acheive that level of income on the amount of time put in. But I also want to say I checked out the sample chapter on building a killer portfolio and in essence you are advising to very lightly deceive people into thinking you have worked with international brands. Not outright lying but it is sort of taking advantage of people’s attention spans a bit. Granted, I’ve seen worse things, and yes, a study is a perfectly legitimate way to both improve and demonstrate your skills if you are new. But after reading that I couldn’t help but question the authenticity of the tax return you posted on your site. What you posted was the return you generated. Any piece of tax software could create this document without actually filing it with the CRA. And hey, if you’re OK with glossing over the portfolio a bit, why not the sales copy for a book you wrote? That is more of an observation than a criticism, mainly what I want to say is be careful about drawing fine ethical lines (or encouraging readers to) because it could hurt your credibility as an author. Regardless, I am sure your book has lots of great advice and I may still buy it. Thanks!

    • Danno:

      Hey Richard. Thanks for your frank, firm and polite comment. Of course you are correct on a few points. My Elite Folios can take advantage of the limitations on people's attention spans and lack of attention to detail. With that said, there is nothing untoward about the technique and being upfront by labeling your pieces as "brand study for X" and "All trademarks are copyright of their respective owners" is the way to keep everything above board.

      Regarding my tax return hehee, I really don't know what to tell you. If I wanted to deceive anyone I would have used sexier numbers. You raise a good point though and that is that in this age of Photoshop, nothing should be taken for granted. All I can say is you (and everyone else) need to use your best judgment and weigh everything up. I can tell you frankly that I had some hesitancy (for privacy reasons) about posting my tax return at all but with the right blurring felt it was a good compromise between showing the income numbers and still preserving sensitive data.


    • Danno:

      David: If just making more and more money is your definition of success then I encourage you to work as hard trading your time for cash.

      Me, I'm happy to work less, still make a good living and have TIME to pursue other priorities (family, friends, other ventures). Really depends on what your priorities are. For me, free time to spend as I wish is much more valuable then working longer hours for more money.

    • Danno:

      Too big a topic to address here, which is why I wrote my book. You need to read it if you want to know the formula I use.

      I can tell you as newer pursuit I have been experimenting with passive income models for web designers and developers which you can read about in a recent post I made.

    • Danno:

      Kind of you to say so. Thanks.

    • Danno:

      You could outsource any Flash development to a reliable offshore team. You get charged $X for their time and bill out at $Y. You would behave in the capacity of creative and technical director to ensure the quality of work is up to your (and your client's) expectations and be the liaison between your team and client. That's one way to do it.

    • Danno:

      Thank you.

    • Kamal Hasa:

      Yep the salary is biased and is only significant to US I believe.

    • Sean:

      I definitely agree that through freelancing you can earn more per hour – you need to accept a certain level of uncertainty and be comfortable with the business development side of things but it's certainly a good path to travel.

      Thanks for the article and the research,


    • Sean:

      Out of curiousity as I'm not in web design, is the industry suffering with the increasing usage of WYSIWYG sites like wordpress and weebly? A lot of smaller businesses are able to raise a decent looking website without having to pay or negotiate with web designers.

      Interested to hear your thoughts,


    • Devon :

      Hi, Danno, i just kind of stumbled upon this article about 20 minutes ago and have really enjoyed reading and re reading it and the conversation that followed. i have just spent the last 3 months in europe, where previously i thought anything less than what my mom earns (roughly 100k) wouldnt let me live the life i need to live (she is greek and is always complaining about money, so dont ask). but after seeing what people make here, it has totally changed my perspective on the rest of my life, and instead of chasing medschool like i was doing, i am going to go into my passion and that is computers, because it seems possible to work 30 hours a week and make a decent living, while being able to maintaina healthy social life and not give myself up for money.

    • Devon:

      originally i thought software programmer, but i think that web designer would be a cool area, and with HTML5 just around the corner, i think its an exciting time for the website design industry.

      i just have a few questions that if you could help me to answer, either by pointing me to a source or endulging me yourself, i would much appreciate.

      1. where to start? i've spent my whole life loving computers but focusing more into the normal web browsing and playing of computer games. so where do i start to learn from?

      2. how much do i need to know before i can start to make some $?

      thanks in advance!