Graphic Designer Salary in Montana

Posted on October 31, 2023 | Updated on October 31, 2023

The Treasure State has the title for a reason. Though it has a rich history in mining, graphic designers in Montana can make a decent living while living among some of America’s most gorgeous mountains. Learn now what your options are, no matter your skill level or speciality. Graphic design is becoming more accessible with remote work, too. So, making a living doing it anywhere, including Montana, is a viable option.

How Much Is a Graphic Designer Salary in Montana?

The average salary for a graphic designer in Montana varies. On the low end, designers can expect around $30,667 annually, whereas lucky high earners may see $81,684. The median is the equivalent of $50,050, or around $18.55 per hour. However, you could be the reason these numbers shift. If you are a powerful voice in the graphic design world, you could break the mold for graphic designers in Montana to strive to new heights.

These numbers may or may not include additional benefits from employers such as bonuses, travel stipends, and insurance packages. If your employer does 401k or other retirement matching, that is another consideration. It makes the job even more valuable emotionally and fiscally to have these additional resources.

If you want to live in Montana and freelance as a graphic designer, that’s a different scenario. The earning potential is endless, depending on how good you are at making a name for yourself. You just want to make sure you live somewhere with reliable, fast internet. Many parts of Montana are mountainous and rural. Though most if not all areas of the state have internet access, it may not be to the caliber you need for consistent graphic design projects.

If you have a long string of connections and are excellent at networking, you could freelance graphic design in Montana or anywhere, while having local options to fall back on. How do these financial options play into the cost of living for Montanans?

Is it Expensive to Live in Montana?

Getting the beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains comes at a price. Fortunately, it has a cost of living index right at 100, which means it is on par with the national average. Transportation is much cheaper than other areas for graphic designers and other expenses, such as utilities and lifestyle expenses are below average. Even if you do or don’t love spending time in nature, rafting, hiking, and skiing can be as cheap or expensive as you desire for budgetary inclusion.

The most significant difference is in housing. The U.S. average in 2023 for a home is around $338,100 — the median home cost in Montana is $441,800. This price jump is notable, but renting and subletting are options until you get your feet wet in your industry to save up. Rent is generally cheaper in Montana than the rest of the U.S. So, you will save money there in the meantime until graphic design starts setting your future up for success.

The housing market is also not ideal in 2023 — it is a seller’s prime, not a buyer’s. So, moving to Kalispell for around $607,000 or Missoula for $512,000 may be a genuine challenge even for the most experienced graphic designers. Consider Great Falls or Butte for a lower cost of living while you explore employment opportunities in Big Sky Country.

What Influences Impact a Graphic Designer’s Salary?

Numerous factors affect a graphic designer’s salary, and knowing what those are is important before you start looking for a new job. Here are some things you should consider.

The first is experience. Sometimes, employers consider a college education enough, while others look at your resume for years at a firm. Depending on what you can brag about, whether it’s a school graphic design club or your work as a graphic design intern, these could all impact your entry salary and position offering. 

The type of position you are gunning for also plays into salary potential. A vanilla graphic design position has plenty of room for growth. Have you considered leadership roles or specializing in user experience or website interfacing? Your willingness to dive deep into a specification may net you more money, especially if your prospective employer is willing to pay for that education. 

Another consideration is your lifestyle. How often do you eat out or travel? Do you spend a lot of money on clothes or video games? These are not directly related to your employer, but these monetary decisions play a factor in how significant your graphic design salary in Montana feels, especially if you are moving to the state and are unsure how much life will cost for you yet.

What Graphic Design Jobs Are in Montana?

You may be entering your first graphic design gig or have tenure in the sector. There are many ways your path can unfold, including many steps between a junior designer and graphic design management. Here are some of the roles and responsibilities you can expect as your salary increases as a graphic designer:

  • Junior or assistant designer: Entry level creative designer refining skills with programs like Procreate, Photoshop, or Dreamweaver.
  • Lead designer: A designer with an array of skills, from sketching to animation. They lead projects and teams.
  • UX/UI designer: Researches target audiences to understand behaviors and create designs for fluidity and accessibility.
  • Animation and motion graphics: Creates graphics or videos.
  • Website designer: Focuses on crafting websites, whether it be navigation, webpages, or templates. This usually involves UX/UI and a medley of other skills.
  • Social media graphics designer: Designs graphics optimized for social media marketing. They follow the preferences of algorithms at the time.

What Are the Highest Paying Areas in Montana for Graphic Designers?

Montana is a large state, and many of the cities — save for the larger ones such as the capital, Helena — offer a surprisingly similar average salary for graphic designers. Here are some of the places in Montana you’ll want to look first:

  • Missoula
  • Butte-Silver Bow
  • Evergreen
  • Whitefish
  • Helena
  • Billings
  • Sidney
  • Havre

The salary is similar in most cities, but it will feel different depending on housing costs mentioned earlier. You will feel like your salary means more with lower housing expenses. It also matters where the highest-paying companies are located. Large companies like PayPal and Meta could raise potential in any city, but a startup could also enter the state with unknown potential for graphic designers.

Additionally, it is up to designers incoming to the area to raise the potential of future designers. The more companies that become successful in more Montana cities, the higher the average graphic designer salary in Montana will be. You can set a precedent by moving there now, work hard to learn the skills of the nation’s top designers, and lobby for salary increases.

Excel With Graphic Designer Salaries in Montana 

Montana is a beautiful state with plenty of opportunities for graphic designers. With over one million residents, more and more people flood to the state for its potential and brisk weather. The sites are enough to pull anyone in, but if you want a slower lifestyle with the fast-paced, creative atmosphere of graphic design, Montana might be the best place for you to grow.

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