If you’re trying to figure out what the typical graphic designer salary in Kentucky might be, the best place to start is with current job listings. The cost of living and average wages has risen sharply in the last couple of years. National averages are a good starting point, but if you want a feel for what real people are making in actual positions, current openings are where the information is at.
We’ve spent hours scouring through sides such as Indeed, Salary.com and Monster to figure out how much you can make as a graphic designer in the great state of Kentucky. Home to numerous horse farms, hops for making beer and bourbon distilleries, the state has a lot to offer.
A graphic designer’s salary in Kentucky is comparable with other areas in the midwest. Kentucky sits right on the cusp, however, straddling the midwest and the south and bringing in elements of both regions for those who live there.
How Much Is a Graphic Designer Salary in Kentucky?
We like to start by looking at the state’s average. Payscale estimates a graphic designer salary in Kentucky falls between between $32,000 and $61,000 per year. The median is around $44,000 for a mid-level graphic designer.
As with most positions, pay fluctuates between entry-level and experienced jobs. If you’re fresh out of school without much experience, expect to earn significantly less than someone who’s been in the field for a dozen years or more.
Graphic designer salary in Kentucky is on par with national averages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the lowest 10% earned approximately $31,310, with printing and related support making the least. Top median annual wages came from specialized design services categories.
Average Cost of Living in Kentucky
Kentucky is an excellent choice of places to live. You can choose from thriving big cities to rural areas with peace and quiet. The state has rolling hills, coal mines, limestone and forests. However, you’ll also find huge corporations residing in cities such as Louisville. Some of the big names include General Electric (GE), Ford Motor Company and Yum! Brands.
According to Team Kentucky, the Cabinet for Economic Development, the name “Kentucky” comes from the Wyandot Indian word “Kah-ten-tah-the,” which means “land of tomorrow.” Known as the Commonwealth, the state boasts a reasonable median home value of $120,400, with ranges above and below. Low housing prices allow around 68% of people living here to own their homes with a short average commute of 22.8 minutes.
Houses and rent cost more in the big cities, but in rural areas expect to pay far less than you would on the coasts. Team Kentucky estimates the cost of living in Kentucky is about 11.4% lower than the U.S. average.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis Personal Consumption Expenditures data estimates the average annual cost of living is around $36,574 per year. Kentucky ranks around number nine for the lowest costs in the country. Your graphic designer salary in Kentucky may seem a bit lower at first but stretch farther than other locations.
How Much Is an Average Graphic Designer Salary in Kentucky–Louisville
Louisville sits on the Ohio River and offers everything from marketing agencies that work with big bourbon and whiskey brands to automakers such as Ford. If you’re looking for work in graphic design, Louisville is an excellent choice for a wide variety of work types.
For example, you could get a position with a big brand doing their graphics. You could work for a marketing agency and have many client accounts. You could choose a smaller brand and do their graphic and social media designs.
Living and working in Louisville gives you access to southern Indiana, which is right across the bridge. The median graphic designer salary in Indiana is $50,710 per year. You could conceivably work in Indiana and live in Kentucky and vice versa. The two states even have a reciprocal tax agreement where you may not have to file in both states when working in one and living in the other.
A graphic designer salary in Kentucky in the Louisville area varies by position. We pulled up some examples on Indeed.com and found that the base salary is $21 per hour–the same as the national average. Some of the top companies in the area included AT&T, which offered $34.84 per hour, Core Home at $22.52 per hour and Colliers at $22.42 per hour.
Look at the perks offered alongside each salary. If a company pays 10 cents less per hour, but they offer more paid time off or other benefits, the perks may more than make up for the small salary difference.
What Do Graphic Designers Make in Lexington, Kentucky?
We next turned to Lexington, Kentucky, home to the Kentucky Horse Park, Mary Todd Lincoln home and the Aviation Museum of Kentucky. Lexington is home to the University of Kentucky, so you may run into some competition for positions in this area. We believe that is why the hourly wage is a tad lower at $20.17 per hour on average.
Some of the bigger names in Lexington include similar names, such as AT&T at $35.18 per hour, Core Home at $22.52 per hour. You’ll also see Digital People at $28.97 per hour. Although these companies pay more, remember to look at all factors before choosing the right position for you. A graphic designer salary in Kentucky will never compare with what you can make in New York City, but the location, hospitality and lower cost of living make up the difference.
Should You Live in Kentucky?
Is Kentucky the right place for you? For anyone who has visited the Commonwealth of Kentucky, they’ve had one of several experiences. Perhaps they attended the Kentucky Derby and had endless fun. They may have run into some cranky drivers in Louisville or sat and chatted for hours in a small town diner with some locals.
The experiences you might have in the state are quite varied because the different areas are so different from one another. Louisville has a bustling, big city feel, while Franklin has a laid back country approach. This is a state you should definitely visit and see if you enjoy before you make a decision to relocate.
Perhaps you have family there, have already spent time in the area or have other reasons for moving. You likely already love the state and what it has to offer.
- Low cost of living
- Affordable housing prices
- Easy to find a rural location
- Many people are homeowners
- Excellent universities in the bigger cities
- Big brands such as Ford, GE and Yum! Brands
- Cold winters
- Limited internet in some rural areas
- Can be hard to get on the inside circle in small towns
- Lower pay
Overall, Kentucky is a beautiful state with excellent cost of living. If you think you might like living there, you probably will. It does take time to acclimate to the unique lifestyle and laid back pace in most towns. Give yourself a year to acclimate fully and you’ll likely never want to leave.
How to Negotiate a Fair Wage in Kentucky
Perhaps you’ve been offered a position in Kentucky, but you aren’t sure you can live on the salary. Is there room to negotiate? A graphic designer salary in Kentucky is going to be less than you’d make in some other places, but there’s always room to try to bring up your base pay.
Look at some of the averages for your area for the same position. If the average wage for entry-level is $31k in the city and you ask for $41k, you’re not likely to get it. However, you can always ask for perks instead, such as more paid vacation or a flexible schedule where you work from home part of the time.
Know what the going rates are, what you’re worth and ask for what you deserve.
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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.