Known for good southern charm and avid football fans–Roll Tide!–a graphic designer salary in Alabama may look attractive if everything else plays out in favor of moving there. Located in the southeastern United States, Alabama is nestled between Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Mississippi to the west and Florida to the south.
The highest 10% of graphic designers in America make $98,260 per year but the lowest 10% only make $31,310. In Alabama, expect to make on the lower end of the wage scale.
The desirable cost of living makes a graphic designer salary in Alabama a bit lower but still a livable wage. While the going rate can’t possibly compete with big cities to the north and on the coasts, people tend to enjoy a quieter pace and housing is much more affordable.
How Much Is a Graphic Designer Salary in Alabama?
The U.S. government estimates the average graphic designer salary is around $50,710 per year. The lower earners make closer to $31,000, while the highest salaries hit close to six figures. What areas you specialize in makes a difference in your earning potential. In-demand, technological knowledge commands a higher wage.
Alabama’s capital is Montgomery, which is located in the west-central portion of the rectangle-shaped state. The state median wage for graphic designers in Alabama is $54,005 but can bump up or down between $48,128 and $61,724.
The wages might sound low when you compare them to New York City or Los Angeles, but rather than paying upwards of $1.5 million for a tiny house or thousands upon thousands a month in apartment rent, you’ll be able to purchase a house for a rate almost any professional designer can afford.
Average Cost of Living in Alabama
You’ll make a nice paycheck even on the low end of the average graphic designer salary in Alabama. The LivingCost.org database estimates the average cost of living without rent is about $727, and with rent $1,777. Housing is much less expensive than in some cities, making it 1.14 times cheaper than the national average. It ranks 46th amongst expensive states but also is ranked 44th as the best states to live in.
By comparison, the average cost of living in Hawaii is $2490 per month for one person, and the cost of living in New York is $2978 per month. With such a low cost of living, it’s possible to get by on less money than in other locations. The cost of living is highly desirable, but can vary depending on whether you move to a larger city or stay in a smaller town.
Starting salaries, as in most states, are lower than what you can make once you have a few years experience under your belt. Pay attention to the level of experience when researching average salaries so you know when to request more money and when an offer is at the top of the payscale for your position.
How Much Is a Graphic Designer Salary in Alabama–Montgomery?
Montgomery sits on the Alabama River, with a population of around 200,603 people. The city is known as the location of the first White House of the Confederacy, but later became a hotspot for civil rights, including the Montgomery Bus Boycotts.
One can almost picture Rosa Louise McCauley Parks quietly staying in her seat on a bus and changing the course of history forever. In the last few years, the city of Montgomery has worked to revitalize the downtown area by adding a stadium, improving the Riverfront and pouring money into the city’s economy.
If living in a city rich with history and change appeals to you, a graphic designer in Montgomery, Alabama can expect to make about $49,039 per year. Some of the companies you might find openings at include Gucci, InterLinc Mortgage Service, Midstate Signs and Montgomery Advertising.
What Do Graphic Designers Make in Mobile, Alabama?
If living on the Gulf of Mexico sounds pretty appealing, you might want to check into Mobile, Alabama and its surrounding areas such as Daphne or Saraland. The USS Alabama WWII battleship resides in the harbor and each year a Mardi Graas takes over the town.
With a population of about 184,952 people, the town is still small enough to have a homey feel but large enough for opportunity to abound. The town has tons of art, attractions and even serves as a port for Carnival cruise ships to depart and arrive.
Indeed estimates the average graphic designer salary in Mobile, Alabama is $17.33 per hour, or around $46,758 per year–about 14% less than the national average. States with high wages push up the average so pay attention to everything from the price of a gallon of milk to a loaf of bread.
Whether you want to dine while gazing out at the ocean or spend the day shopping in nearby Fairhope, Mobile has something to offer everyone. You may not even care that the average salary is a bit behind the national average when you realize what a beautiful and interesting place it is to live.
Should You Move to Alabama?
Alabama often attracts young professionals and families. The lower cost of living and natural beauty draws people there. The friendly residents and slow southern pace keep them. The weather is mild throughout the year, with the state rarely getting snow or ice. It can be hot and humid in the summer, so you’ll need to adapt to that as well as figuring out the best way to avoid bugs and other pests.
Will a graphic designer salary in Alabama be enough to draw you to the state? Here are some pros and cons to help you decide:
- Lower living costs
- Affordable housing
- Mild weather
- Unemployment rate is low
- Beautiful landscapes
Because so many young families are drawn to Alabama, you’ll enjoy the thriving atmosphere at most companies and the ability to network with other professionals in your field.
- High crime rate in some areas
- People are extremely friendly and expressive–sometimes it is too much for introverts
- Plethora of pests as there isn’t cold weather to reduce their numbers
- Dry counties where you can’t buy alcohol can limit your dining options
- Severe weather outbreaks, including tornadoes
Although you should look out for some of the negatives of living in Alabama, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Once you get used to drinking sweet tea with every meal and drawling out your words a bit more than you would in the north, you’ll love the slower pace of the state.
How to Live Like Royalty in Alabama
Okay, so you aren’t really going to live like part of the Queen’s court when you work as a graphic designer, but there are some things you can do to ramp up the average graphic designer’s salary in Alabama and still take advantage of the lower cost of living there.
Add some skills to increase your earning potential. For example, you might take some business management courses and step into an artistic director position, overseeing a team of graphic designers. On the other hand, skills such as UX and UI design are always in high demand.
Look at job listings in the area where you want to live. What skills are listed in the job description? How can you earn these skills and seek out the top-paying jobs in your location?
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.