Graphic Designer Salary in Tennessee

Posted on November 27, 2023 | Updated on November 27, 2023

Tennessee offers everything from major cities to rolling farms and quaint towns. It’s the capital of country music, once home to Elvis Presley and known for natural beauty such as the Smoky Mountains. Looking at a graphic designer salary in Tennessee shows that wages might be a tad lower in some areas but the cost of living and unique features of the Volunteer State more than make up for it. 

Tennessee sits uniquely in the upper part of the southeastern part of the United States. It is surrounded by other states, and landlocking it away from major bodies of water. When people think about Tennessee, they often think about the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Nashville is known as the place where top country talent gets discovered and where greats such as Loretta Lynn, George Jones and Hank Williams once belted out tunes while hoping to be discovered. 

The state might be best known for country music, but some might argue it’s the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll, as Elvis Presley once lived in Memphis, building his Graceland mansion there and making it his home base. If you’re thinking about living and working in Tennessee, the state has a lot to offer. 

How Much Is a Graphic Designer Salary in Tennessee?

The top 10% of graphic designers in the United States make almost $100k per year. The median and starting incomes are half that or less, but knowing what you can expect with some experience helps determine if you want to move to an area. 

Looking across Salary.com, Glassdoor and Indeed, it looks like the average graphic designer salary in Tennessee is between $44,000 and $70,000 per year. Of course, pay varies depending on area, experience and specialty areas. Some of the companies looked at to figure out compensation included The Clever Factory, Gresham Smith, Gannett and Kirkland’s. 


A generalized search for “graphic designer in Tennessee” on Indeed resulted in 59 possibilities. Positions ranged from restaurant groups to television studios. Some of the skills employers wanted included typography and motion graphics skill sets. 

Average Cost of Living in Tennessee

When it comes to inexpensive places to live, Tennessee may be one of the best choices for creative types. Many towns are open to freelancers and welcome them with open arms. If you visit Nashville, you’ll see street artists where the restaurants and nightclubs are. They’re out playing a trombone, strumming a guitar or singing with their tip jar handy. 

Tennessee is so attractive because the winters are mild and the spring and fall offer middle-ground temperatures you won’t find in other states. The state gets around five inches of snow a year, which can grind things to a halt, but occurrences are rare. 

WKRN News reported in February of 2023 that Tennessee ranks as the 10th least expensive state to live in. They looked at the Cost of Living Index, which comes from comparing the prices of over 60 different products. The national average is the 100% point, so anything under that is lower than average. Tennessee’s Cost of Living Index was 90.2%. 

How Much Do Things Cost in the Volunteer State?

SoFi took some time to look at a variety of studies and break down various areas and their expenses. The average yearly spending for a single person with no children is around $42,469 per year. 

Housing is fairly reasonable, but a lot will depend on the area you choose. Expect more space for less money and larger yards, even in more developed areas. Food and beverages outside of dining hit about $3,016 annually. The median monthly mortgage is $1,337 and a one-bedroom apartment runs around $894. Nashville’s housing market ran the highest and Jackson and Kingsport were almost one-third the cost of housing in Nashville. 

How Much Is a Graphic Designer Salary in Tennessee–Nashville?

Even though the cost of living is higher in Nashville and you’ll face more competition for jobs, the pay is also higher in this area. If you want to live in the area in order to pursue a music career, consider going across the border to Kentucky for work and living and commuting into Nashville on days you want to try your hand at breaking into the music industry. 

Although the listings change frequently, a quick perusal of job sites such as Indeed, Glassdoor and Monster showed motion graphic artists can expect between $30 and $40 per hour in the city. 

There are also more job opportunities than you might expect since several big brands call Nashville home. You’ll find companies such as Electrolux Home Products, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, General Motors and HCA Healthcare. The music and movie industry also need graphic artists to design album covers, posters and advertisements for their artists. 

How Much Is a Graphic Designer Salary in Knoxville, Tennessee?

A bit further to the south, Knoxville is an interesting mix of a city on a river and quaint shops and restaurants dotting restored buildings from the 19th century. Knoxville is known for its growing job market and low cost of living. People are friendly and the pace is slower for a town of nearly 200,000 people. 

A quick Google search for graphic designer jobs in Knoxville pulls up over thirty different openings. The pay ranges from $17 to $30 per hour, depending on experience and skills. 

Home to the 1982 World’s Fair, the town has a ton to offer people wishing to make the leap to the south. Some of the companies in the area that might be hiring include Pilot Flying J, Tennessee Valley Authority, Target and Covenant Health. Many corporations call Knoxville home and have their headquarters there. 

Should You Move to Tennessee?

The Volunteer State has a friendly vibe that is all southern but still has a lot of modern technology and thriving metropolitan areas workers seek. The low cost of living and buying a new house compared with the middle-of-the-road wages make it an attractive option for growing families, too. 

Pros

  • Hiking and outdoor activities 
  • Mild winters 
  • Inexpensive homes with low property taxes
  • Growing job market in most larger towns
  • Unique cuisine and thriving new restaurants

Cons

  • The state is completely unprepared for snow
  • Much is undeveloped and rural
  • High crime rate
  • Lower wages
  • Roads are in poor condition

Before taking a job in the Volunteer State, take time to investigate the area you’ll move to. Compare compensation packages to make sure the pay is enough for you to live comfortably. 

What’s So Great About Tennessee?

Most people who’ve lived in Tennessee love the state. They’re avid fans of the Tennessee Titans and root for the University of Tennessee’s players. They have no clue how to drive in the snow, but they also don’t need to know because it happens so infrequently. 

The state has unique landmarks, such as Lookout Mountain, which offers sweeping views where you can look at seven different states at one time. You’ll see: 

  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky
  • North Carolina 
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia

There are so many hiking trails, activities and events that you’ll never run out of things to do in your free time. Take advantage of lower housing costs by finding a remote job in an area that pays slightly more and buying a home in an area with lower costs. Tennessee is worth looking at for one of the potential places for graphic design work. 


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