The great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is known as the Keystone State, for its role in the founding of the United States of America. It is in Philadelphia that you’ll find the halls where those who wrote our constitution roamed. All around the city are various revolutionary sites and bits of history.
For those who love Sylvester Stallone, climbing the steps featured in the Rocky movie have special significance. The idea of working in such a fun location filled with pieces of America’s past is quite appealing to the creative soul.
Of course, there are many other wonderful and thriving cities in the state, such as the state capital of Harrisburg. Pittsburgh is another favorite and home to large corporations such as PNC Financial Services Group, Kraft Heinz and Howmet Aerospace. Each industry has specific needs that graphic designs can help meet.
How Much Is a Graphic Designer Salary in Pennsylvania?
Indeed estimates the average graphic designer has a base salary of about $21.87 per hour, but some of the top-paying brands offer closer to $35 per hour, such as Jackson Lewis, AT&T and Control4.
Of course, pay varies based on area, demand for skills and the designer’s experience. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the median pay for a graphic designer is around $50,710 per year, which equates to $24.38 per hour. Pennsylvania may be a tad behind the national average for those with a bachelor’s degree in design or a related field.
The cost of living in Pennsylvania isn’t as high as some other cities to the east. The average cost of living, according to the MERIC cost of living index, puts PA in the 29th position. It’s comparable to living in Minnesota or Montana. The cost of homes is also pretty affordable when you compare PA to locations such as New York and Los Angeles.
How Much Is a Graphic Designer Salary in Pennsylvania–Philadelphia?
One of the perks to working in Philadelphia is that companies are willing to pay more for experience in the areas they need. For example, Salary.com reports that a Graphic Designer II in Philadelphia can expect a median wage of $70,123 a year. That’s about $20k more than the national average.
You might start a bit lower with an entry-level position but with experience and by building your graphic design skills, you’ll soon make more.
How does the cost of living in Philadelphia compare to other cities? Will a graphic designer salary in Pennsylvania put you above the poverty line? SoFi looked at reports from the U.S. Census and Zillow and found some interesting averages. The median mortgage payment was about $1,595 per month, one-bedroom apartment $805 per month and typical home price around $307,863 total.
Your money will go a lot farther in PA than in states such as New York, New Jersey or California. The state is comparable with places such as Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Ohio for overall costs. You’ll make a livable wage based on averages.
How Much Is a Graphic Designer Salary in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania?
Drive a couple hours west to the capital city of Harrisburg and you’ll find a more laid back style of living. However, the median wages also drop to around $63,473 per year for the same position of Graphic Designer II.
The cost of living is a bit less, so that may account for some of the difference in wages. For example, a home in Harrisburg sells for $223,462. The average cost of rent is around $400 more at $1,285 per month. Keep in mind, though, that when averages are factored into Philadelphia stats they may include lower rent areas you want to avoid due to high crime rates.
Should You Move to Pennsylvania?
As a comparison to see how many available positions were open in each city, we looked at Indeed.com and did a search. In Philadelphia, there were around 75 open positions candidates might apply for, with roles from Jr. Graphic Designer to specializations such as app development.
In Harrisburg, 14 job listings pulled up in search results. Roles included Jr. Graphic Designers and Senior Designers. The benefit of working in Pennsylvania is that you can apply to other nearby locations if one job doesn’t pan out.
Should you make the move to Pennsylvania? The state has a lot to offer, but it’s important to look at both pros and cons before making a decision to leave your current location.
- Low cost of living
- Tons of historical sites for history buffs
- Quality health care
- Lower tax rate of 6% for sales tax and a flat rate on income of 3.07%.
- Bad weather and driving conditions in the winter
- Pay rate is a bit lower than some other locations–cost of living may help combat this
- Unusual liquor laws in some localities
Pennsylvania is a great mid-range state to move to. If you’re looking for a way to break into the industry or take unique talents to a corporation, you’ll also find players such as Hershey in the state.
The lower pay may be concerning when you realize around 25% of all jobs will be remote soon. Those with many years of experience, may have a hard time accepting lower wages when those around you with less experience earn more. However, the lower cost of living may help combat those fears.
On the other hand, you may have family and friends in the area with inside information on the best deals and places to live safely and reasonably. Perhaps you have awesome family support to help get you into your first house or secure transportation to and from work.
You must consider many factors when choosing where to work and live. Family proximity can play a big role in that decision.
Tips to Land the Job with the Best Graphic Designer Salary in Pennsylvania
How can you ensure you land the job you deserve? Even if you’re fresh out of college, you may have experience in areas you don’t realize. Did you complete internships while in school?
Include All Your Experience
Start by thinking through every bit of experience you have. If you bring any special skills to the table, now is the time to brush them up and put them on your resume. If you can enter the field above an entry-level position, you’ll naturally earn more per hour.
Ask for What You’re Worth
If a company offers a rate you don’t feel will cover your expenses, be honest. Tell them you’re on your own and you don’t think you can live at that wage. Ask if there’s any room for flexibility because you want to give your full focus to the position with worries over how to pay bills.
Even if the company says no, you’ll be able to look elsewhere for a company that pays a livable wage for your area.
Work Your Way Up
Another thing you can try if you get job offers that don’t quite pay what you want at this time is trying for a company where there is opportunity for growth. Can you work your way into a higher position that pays more? What do people say about the brand on Glassdoor and other job review websites?
Talk to the employer about how often and how much the average raise is and what you can do to work your way up in the company. Investing your time and energy can pay off in higher salary and job security.
Around 82% of employees rank retirement plans as very important, followed by flexible work hours. Be sure to look at the entire package when responding to a job offer.
Add to Your Skills
No matter where you land with your graphic designer salary in Pennsylvania, or another location, keep adding to your skills. Either improve your artwork, learn specific talents such as hand drawing fonts or add knowledge in surrounding areas such as app building and coding. The more you know, the higher your pay will be.
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.