Graphic Designer Salary in South Dakota

Posted on December 19, 2023 | Updated on December 19, 2023

Whether you are inspired by the state’s namesake landmark, Mount Rushmore, or want to surround yourself with far-reaching prairies and strong tribal cultures, opportunities exist for graphic designers. The graphic designer salary in South Dakota is not what it would be in more populous states like New York or California. However, it does not mean it is not a viable way of life. With only around 900,000 people, could you be one of them working as a successful graphic designer?

What Is the Graphic Designer Salary in South Dakota?

The median graphic designer salary in North Dakota is around $51,845 annually, which translates to $19.22 per hour. For those with minimal or no experience, you might get hired at the low end of the spectrum at around $35,720. 

If you have many years of experience with multiple firms and a robust portfolio, you could see offers of $75,248 or more. This is around 10% lower than the national average, but there are several ways it might feel like more money than it seems on paper.

Depending on who you work for, they may offer sizable benefits packages that add to the value of the base salary. Though some may include the value of the package with the salary, ensure you read the fine print of your contract carefully. 

The Great Resignation and revolution of quiet quitting have made employers more aware of the wants and needs of the modern workforce. Therefore, they have to act by giving workers what they deserve, including the potential for more in addition to insurance and retirement plans:

  • Paid time off, including mental health days 
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Parental leave
  • Ongoing learning or professional enrichment opportunities
  • Potential for bonuses
  • Equipment or tech
  • Health savings accounts
  • Retirement matching

What Is the Cost of Living in SD?

The cost of living in South Dakota is less compared to the United States average. The average score is 100, and SD has a score of 89.3 — significantly lower than other regions. These savings could make the average graphic design salary in SD have more gravity. Everything from groceries to utilities is considerably cheaper. Even buying is more accessible, with the median price around $268,000 compared to the current U.S. average of $338,000. 

The only aspect of living in SD that costs more is health care, which has a score of 120.8. Despite this higher-than-average number, cost savings from other areas may assist with mending the gaps. Additionally, this may be fine depending on what your employer offers you regarding health care.

Another influence on the cost of living is the lifestyle preferences of South Dakotans. What is there to do when you are not working on designs? There is a long list of state parks with related activities, like horseback riding, canoeing, and snowshoeing in the colder months. The top attractions in the state include the famous Mount Rushmore, but what else is there? Here are the best considerations for your time off, especially if you enjoy spending part of your salary in nature:

  • Badlands National Park
  • Custer State Park
  • Keystone
  • Crazy Horse Memorial
  • Needles Highway

How Do You Construct a Graphic Design Portfolio and Resume?

To get the most out of your graphic design salary, you must enter the state with a shining portfolio and equally gleaming resume. To construct both to impress, here is what you can do.

Tips for Your Portfolio

Curate your portfolio for each employer application. Your portfolio should contain a diverse array of skills and project types. It would be best if you had your hand at as many styles and designs for varying clients as possible. You don’t need work experience to fill this out — you can invent projects for fake companies and assignments to test your abilities. Have you tried a 70’s-inspired design for a dog-grooming business or a sleek, minimalist tech startup logo? 

Though these sound completely different, having the variety allows you to personalize the portfolio to the company. It wouldn’t make sense to include the dog grooming project in a portfolio for a tech company application with a modern aesthetic. Employers want to see how your skills translate to them, so practice well and widely. It shows you know about the company before hitting your first interview — which is sure to impress.

Tips for Your Resume

Creating a resume is just as essential to personalize. You want to describe your past experiences in as much detail as possible while making it relevant to the work you’re applying. 

For example, how can you discuss your barista skills in a way that appeals to an educational employer? Suggest the experience was relevant for creating empathetic and well-researched designs based on first-hand customer interactivity. 

There is always something you can glean from past experiences to make it relevant — it’s not as necessary to brag about how you cleaned the shop every night. Make every bullet point relevant.

Additionally, consider experience outside of traditional scopes. Most only include experiences from colleges or internships. What about who you interact with online or a one-off freelance project you did? Highlight these skills and experiences as if they weigh as much as formal education or paid jobs. How you talk about them will convince prospective employers that they were influential and add to your credibility.

What Skills Do I Need to Increase My Salary?

You may want to consider planning and preparing yourself for the graphic design long haul. Here are the best considerations for refining skills that will likely boost your salary.

The first is your emotional intelligence. Being able to self-regulate your emotions by taking feedback well and empathizing with teammates may unlock the potential for your salary to increase by up to $29,000, according to research. Soft skills are just as important as hard skills in graphic design, especially when it is sometimes a personalized and vulnerable line of work as you dig deep into a client’s persona, goals, and motivations.

On the more technical side of things, there are two prominent actions you can take. First, you can hone in on software skills. You don’t need proficiency in every program to get a graphic design job, but there is probably a program you have wanted to learn for a while but haven’t made the time for — now is the time. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Photoshop
  • InDesign
  • Sketch
  • Pixlr
  • Procreate
  • Canva
  • Serif Affinity
  • Dreamweaver

This leads to the final tip — stay in touch. Communicate with as many marketing and graphic design leaders as you can. The industry changes daily, as new programs require upskilling and algorithms require revisions to existing projects. If you stay attentive to trends, you will likely convince employers you’re worth more money.

Comparing the Graphic Designer Salary in SD

Looking at the graphic designer salary in South Dakota compared to other states may not be the best choice. It all comes down to your priorities. You may have family in the state or appreciate the slow lifestyle. It could be the perfect setting for your in-office graphic design journey or the freelance dream you have been waiting for. South Dakota is only for some, but for your graphic design story, it could be perfect for you.

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 exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at

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