A career in graphic design is perfect for tech-savvy creatives. However, whether you can get by with the cost of living depends on where you live. A graphic designer salary in Utah is lower than in some other states, but professionals can still find ways to make ends meet.
Of course, living near one of Utah’s major cities allows most people to obtain work more easily. Conversely, today’s shift toward freelance and remote work has made it possible for graphic designers to work from anywhere in the state.
Let’s take a closer look at what graphic designers make in the Beehive State and how you can land the perfect career in your industry.
What Is the Average Graphic Designer Salary in Utah?
The average graphic designer salary in Utah ranks somewhere in the middle among all the United States. Typically, Utah-based graphic designers earn around $46,000 annually — $22.12 per hour.
Of course, everybody starts somewhere. Those just entering the field can expect to make an average of $35,360 to start. On the high end, experienced professionals earn $62,488. While top wages in Utah are sufficient, remember that the highest 10% may earn $98,260 annually in other states.
Salaries greatly depend on one’s education, experience and location. It may also be determined by who you work for. A company will pay graphic designers a competitive rate according to the state. On the other hand, freelance graphic designers can set their own prices and broaden their pool of clientele nationwide or even internationally. Others might do freelance work on the side for a boost in income.
What Is a Graphic Designer Salary in Salt Lake City?
The Silicon Slopes in Lehi, Utah — about 30 minutes from Salt Lake City — is renowned as a hub for technology startups. Therefore, it should be no surprise that investors, businesses, and a diverse talent pool have flocked to the state’s capital.
With more major tech giants like Adobe, Microsoft, Oracle, and Domo moving into the Silicon Slopes, Utah has earned the No. 9 slot in the top 10 best states for technology careers.
So what is the graphic designer salary in Salt Lake City anyway? Graphic designers made between $50,601 and $64,901 as of September 2023, with a median salary of $56,801. However, you can make even more in other cities.
Valencia, Ogden, and Provo lead with the highest average salaries for graphic designers as follows:
- Valencia: $57,477
- Ogden: $55,337
- Provo: $54,647
Provo’s graphic designer salary is about 14.9% higher than the state average, while Valencia is 20.7% higher. However, there’s a caveat. The salaries between Valencia and the subsequent cities are so close there are limited possibilities for wage growth. The cost of living in each city should instead be your determining factor for deciding where to work as a graphic designer.
Are Graphic Designers in Demand in Utah?
When weighing the market for graphic designers nationwide with the Silicon Slopes’ growing tech hub, one can suspect graphic designers are exceptionally high in demand in Utah.
Freelance marketplace Upwork even suggests graphic design skills are the most sought-after. Some freelancers earn $145 per hour doing graphic design and visual editing on the side.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic designers’ projected job growth is 3% from 2022 to 2032. Most of the 22,800 annual openings result from companies strengthening their digital presence. Many businesses depend on graphic designers to create appealing user interfaces, logos, brand identity, and advertisements.
For example, human resource departments turn to graphic designers to create presentations, video content, and reports. In health care, graphic designers help 62% of people understand medical products and services through flyers and brochures.
Naturally, retailers also rely on graphic designers for display ads in stores and online.
Cost of Living in Utah
One of the most important factors to consider when contemplating a graphic design career in Utah is whether or not you can afford the cost of living. Utah’s affordability ranks 28th in the nation, although inflation and rising housing prices have left everybody feeling the pinch.
In Salt Lake City, housing costs are approximately $541,178 — down 6% year-over-year but still high. Meanwhile, the average cost of rent is $1,662 for an 823-square-foot apartment in the state capital.
Of course, you must take other necessities into account. For example, transportation and utilities are 8.8% and 5.4% lower than the rest of the country, respectively. However, health care is 2.7% higher in Utah than in other states.
Utah ranks 47th in the country for grocery prices — much less than most places. With a population of 186,400, Salt Lake City residents spend about $282.23 monthly on food per person — nearly $3,400 yearly.
Remember that graphic designers make less than other technology professions, regardless of where you work or how much experience you have. It can be challenging to cover the cost of living on a graphic designer’s salary. In 2021, Utah’s poverty rate was 8.6% — not a category one wants to land in.
Companies Hiring Graphic Designers in Utah
Are you looking for a graphic designer job in Utah? You should begin your search for work with the top companies that hire for this role. Glassdoor recommends the following businesses:
- Brigham Young University
- Malouf Companies
- Utah Valley University
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- University of Utah
- Disruptive Advertising
You may have luck finding graphic design work at some of Utah’s tech giants, too. DevMountain, BambooHR, Ancestry, Qualtrics, Adobe, and Weave are all options with possible opportunities.
How to Obtain a Graphic Designer Job
A degree in graphic design will only get you so far in the job hunt, especially as mass layoffs have swept across the technology industry in 2023. You need something to show for your skills and expertise. If you want to nab a graphic designer role with the salary you deserve, follow these six tips.
1. Redo Your Resume
Your resume is a first impression when you apply for a job. Human resource managers will review your resume to ensure you have the most prioritized skill sets the company needs.
However, HR professionals aren’t the only ones looking at your documents. A Jobscan study found that 97.4% of Fortune 500 companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to sift through stacks of job seekers.
Your resume must have an ATS-friendly layout to get into an HR specialist’s hands. Also, you want all resume and cover letter documents to be correct and accurate before submitting your application.
2. Make Your Portfolio Sparkle
Because graphic design roles are creative, you must curate your best work in a portfolio. Companies and freelance-based clientele want to know what you are capable of doing. A portfolio will demonstrate your skills instead of simply stating them on your resume.
In today’s digital world — especially for a tech position — it makes more sense to set up an online portfolio with case studies and niche fields you’re passionate about. You can create a visually appealing portfolio online for free or at a low price.
Likewise, consider using your name in your portfolio’s URL and optimize your website for SEO to increase your searchability.
3. Close the Skills Gaps
How well do your skills match up to other graphic designers in the field? If there are any knowledge gaps, now is the time to fill them. Enroll in continuing education courses, certificate programs, seminars, and workshops to stay abreast of design trends.
According to InDesign Skills, photographic branding is having a moment in the spotlight again, which brands hope will give them a humanistic edge in 2023. Graphic designers can expect to combine photography with illustration in future campaigns.
An emphasis on typography is also gaining traction as the industry shifts back toward sans-serif typefaces. This should appease most graphic designers who’ve missed the clean, minimalist, and accessible design for online branding.
Creative Bloq has also shared its graphic design projections for 2023 and beyond. Bright, minimalist images, Y2K aesthetic, candy pastels, and greater inclusivity in projects will likely take over industry trends.
4. Embrace Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Fears over whether or not AI will take creative jobs are valid. Little is known about what is to come as generative AI advances. Yet, graphic designers should be fine for the time being.
According to Jake Lefebure, CEO of Design Army, AI is best used as a tool rather than a solution. Graphic designers can lean into AI for brainstorming designs or creating mood boards. Ultimately, human creativity is still far more valuable than whatever AI generates.
Additionally, while adopting and adapting to AI sounds counterintuitive, it can save graphic designers ample time when working on projects. We live in a world where the demand for content supersedes companies’ ability to deliver it to users promptly.
5. Gain Experience
If you want to appeal to major technology companies and other well-known businesses in Utah, get some experience. Start freelancing for people and local businesses to move up the career ladder. These experiences are beneficial for skill-building.
If you’re a college student, consider interning at a graphic design firm or marketing company while you pursue your degree. Internships might also be available for recent graduates or those interested in a career change.
Seeking a mentor from an experienced professional can also help you get ahead. A mentor should have plenty of work experience in the graphic design field with the ability and interest to impart their knowledge to you. The more you learn from mentors, the better prepared you will be for a challenging graphic design career.
Graphic designer jobs are available, but you may have better opportunities if you network. According to some studies, 70% of jobs never get posted online, while 50% to 80% of jobs get filled by knowing someone on the inside.
Attend job fairs, expos, and other networking events to get to know industry professionals. Carrying business cards with your contact information and portfolio website is also a good idea. This way, people can review your work at a later time.
Pursue a Graphic Designer Career in Utah
The Beehive State may not be your first choice for graphic designer roles — but it’s a good one. There are numerous opportunities for graphic designers, whether you work for a company or for yourself at home.
While the graphic designer salary in Utah is lower than in other parts of the U.S., you can still earn a livable wage while doing what you love. Find your confidence and believe in your skills and expertise to succeed as a graphic designer.