Graphic Designer Salary in Hawaii

Posted on February 22, 2023 | Updated on October 27, 2023

If you’re a professional graphic designer or recent college grad, you might think a move to paradise sounds something like a dream. Knowing the average graphic designer salary in Hawaii helps you understand whether you should accept a job offer on the islands or consider living elsewhere.

The westernmost state in the United States of America, Hawaii sits approximately 2,000 miles off the mainland in the Pacific Ocean. The average high temperatures in Hawaii run between 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s known for hula dancers, flower leis and a couple of Elvis movies where he sang and danced his way through the unique things the islands have to offer.

How Much Is a Graphic Designer Salary in Hawaii?

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average graphic designer makes $28.83 per hour, with $15.06 being on the low end of wages and $47.24 on the high end. How much designers make depends on their experience and areas of specialization.

Hawaii’s capital is Honolulu. Payscale estimates a median base salary of $49,346 per year for graphic designers in Honolulu. While salaries in bigger cities on the islands tend to run higher, similar wages can be had anywhere there is graphic designer employment. 

Average Cost of Living in Hawaii

Unfortunately, the cost of living in Hawaii is on the higher side. With graphic designer salary in Hawaii being rather low, people trying to make a go of it on their own may struggle. You’ll either need a roommate, partner or family until you command higher wages. 

Tour guides often talk about the huts on the beach selling for a million dollars or more. They aren’t exaggerating but you can save money if you get out a bit from the tourist areas. 

A median household income in Hawaii is $83,173 and the average cost of a home is $1.06 million. The state is the second most expensive in the country for renters, with the cost of a two-bedroom rising 9.5% in one year to $2,180 or more. 

Rent isn’t the only thing that runs more on the islands. Eating out, entertainment, fuel and other expenses all sit higher than most other locations. The one exception might be foods readily available that are grown there, such as pineapples. 

Your money won’t stretch far on the islands. You might have some luck by moving out from the larger cities, but then you’ll have the cost of commuting to and from work. Buying a vehicle may also run you more. You’ll have additional freight costs. Even if you bring your car over with you, you’ll have to pay to get it to the island in the first place.

You could potentially save a  lot of money on entertainment costs as you can go on hikes, visit local cultural centers, spend some time on the beach or work in the garden. The beautiful, mild weather means more time for inexpensive activities. Living on the islands is a trade off between doing more things and paying higher costs. 

How Much Is a Graphic Designer Salary in Hawaii–Hoonokaa

One of the biggest challenges job seekers might face is finding enough positions to apply to in a limited job pool. For example, a search of Indeed of Graphic Design jobs in Hoonokaa on the Big Island pulls up only 30 results. Some of those results aren’t even on the Big Island but on the neighboring one of Oahu. 

While a lot of the jobs listed are “hybrid” and allow people to commute only occasionally, there is also a cost to fly or boat from one island to the next and back. 

One position pays between $40,000 and $51,000 per year. Another up to $67,000 annually. Experienced designers may command the higher end of estimates. Government jobs often pay a bit more than small businesses, too. Pay attention to the perks of each job listed. Better benefits and more paid time off might counteract the lower wages, especially if you need time to build your freelance client list. 

How Much Is a Graphic Designer Salary in Hilo, Hawaii?

A search of the largest city on the Big Island pulls up a single result and it is for a job with a newspaper that also requires copyediting skills. The pay is not enough to live comfortably in this beautiful, lush state.

So, what can a graphic designer do to find a position and make enough money to live in Hawaii? Since the average graphic designer salary in Hawaii is lower than the cost of living commands, job candidates have a few options to still make that dream of living in paradise come true. 

You could seek a remote position with a company that pays a bit more and you could still live in Hawaii. You could also add to your list of skills and add in some UI or UX design skills, social media marketing and other in-demand abilities. 

Taking on freelance clients on the side can help you meet bills. For example, you might have a day job for the benefits and perks. On the weekends, you can work on a few projects with private clients. Over time, as you build your skills, you will command higher pay from your private clients. 

Should You Move to Hawaii?

If you love colorful sunsets oceanside, fresh fruit, Polynesian culture and beaches, you’ll adore living in this state. The people are warm and welcoming. The attitude is “hang loose” and most residents don’t get in a hurry or bent out of shape.

The pace of island life is slower than it is in most big cities. The natural beauty, volcanoes and lush plants all help one get centered with nature. 

However, even paradise isn’t perfect. The decision isn’t only about what a graphic designer salary in Hawaii is. As with any place you might move, there are both pros and cons outside the scope of a payscale. Here are the things to consider before making a move to Hawaii.

Pros

  • Breathtaking scenery 
  • Near-perfect climate 
  • Outdoor sports 
  • Nightlife 
  • Culturally diverse 
  • Extremely low crime rates
  • Slower pace

Cons

  • Jobs hard to find
  • Expensive housing 
  • High cost of living 
  • Noisy, rude visitors
  • No seasonal changes 
  • Volcanoes and tsunamis 
  • Isolated

The graphic designer salary in Hawaii is comparable to what you’d see somewhere like Pennsylvania. However, a graphic designer salary in Pennsylvania also comes with a location that has a much lower cost of living and housing rate. 

If Your Dream Is to Live in Hawaii, You Can Work Around the Salary

Although the opportunities for graphic designer salary in Hawaii are rather limited, if you feel called to live on the islands, there are many things you can do to work around the challenges. 

Get a couple of like-minded friends and rent a place together. If four people rent a two-bedroom and sleep with two twin beds to a room, you’ll reduce rent by one-fourth of what you’d pay alone. 

You could also take on freelance projects, go into another line of work or work remotely in another location until your salary is enough to afford to live on the islands. 

Hawaii isn’t like any other place on the planet. Those who visit feel called to return and some stay and never leave. If the location sounds idyllic or you’re lucky enough to already live there, you can get creative with the cost of living and figure out how to live frugally.

About The Author

Cooper Adwin is the Assistant Editor of Designerly Magazine. With several years of experience as a social media manager for a design company, Cooper particularly enjoys focusing on social and design news and topics that help brands create a seamless social media presence. Outside of Designerly, you can find Cooper playing D&D with friends or curled up with his cat and a good book.

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