There are opportunities everywhere for graphic designers, even in West Virginia, a state surrounded by building-high trees and white-tailed deer. Graphic design salary ranges may look different than surrounding states, but the Wild and Wonderful location could inspire even the most creatively lost individuals.
The state has outfits over 30 years old where designers can work in more classic environments, and there are opportunities for remote workers here that may not happen in any other state. What can graphic designers in West Virginia expect for a salary, working remotely or otherwise?
The Average Graphic Designer’s Salary in West Virginia
Graphic designers in West Virginia should expect a median salary of $38,700, while the upper end could be nearer to $62,500 and the lower end close to $24,400. These range widely for a few reasons. Surrounding states, like Virginia or Pennsylvania, may have stark differences in costs of living or salary averages. However, aspiring designers must compare these ranges to quality of life and state benefits to determine if this aligns with their goals.
The average salary can also vary depending on the designer’s rank. Lead designers will make more than associates. Specialized designers focusing on mobile, UX, or other on-trend needs could make above-average salaries depending on the time and place.
What Is the Average Cost of Living in West Virginia?
The salary means more if you have a range to compare it to. How much will go to necessities if other states could pay more? Does it balance out in the end, or do West Virginians have a leg up in having more disposable income if they’re a graphic designer? In short, the cost of living in West Virginia for a graphic designer is low, and the average designer’s salary could live comfortably.
The cost of living index is measured on a scale of 100, where 100 is the national average. Each state considers expenses like homes, groceries, and utilities before determining how it ranks. West Virginia has a 78.1 rating with an average home cost of $96,400 compared to metropolitan areas that can easily exceed half a million dollars.
Not every area in West Virginia is a ghost town, and not every home is a fixer-upper waiting for kind hands — though there are many. Graphic designers looking to move to the state have many flexible opportunities to live in remote or more urban areas with a low cost of living benefits — all on a graphic design salary.
Are Graphic Designers in High Demand?
Whether traditionally employed or a solopreneur, graphic designers are some of the most in-demand workers in the modern age. The advent of social media advertising put them at the forefront of campaigns, and a rise in people working for themselves needed to outsource help from freelancers for logos and website designs. Some freelance graphic designers could make up to $145 an hour if they’re lucky and find the proper work, making the cost of living in West Virginia all the nicer.
The demand stems from how the graphic design field constantly evolves. Everything from Web3 to new programs could change the scope of graphic designer job descriptions, making them more extensive than ever. Consider how much the field changed in the advent of social media advertising — suddenly, designers had to learn how to optimize for each platform concerning dimensions, text-to-image ratios and file sizes for it to perform well with each channel’s respective algorithms.
It may not have included animation before the software could enable designers to execute that art. However, graphic designers can create job security everywhere because it’s possible to adapt and participate in continuing education in the new aspects of the field. They don’t have to live anywhere in particular, including West Virginia, to go to school because of the countless online resources that can help graphic designers hone their skills, all with an internet connection.
Additionally, everyone now needs an app or website. The shift from desktop to mobile requires designer skills to fit multiple formats. Graphic designers are in high demand no matter where they live. However, remote or in-person work in West Virginia could provide additional financial freedom because of the salary-to-cost-of-living ratio.
Do WV Colleges Have Good Graphic Design Programs?
There are several options for higher education in graphic design in the Mountain State. Students have options, starting from Associate’s degrees at community colleges and ascending. The state’s largest university, West Virginia University (WVU), is ranked number one in the state for students wanting to study graphic design. It’s nationally accredited and provides students with various concentrations for artistic expression.
Other schools include Marshall University, Mountwest Community and Technical College (MCTC), and West Virginia Wesleyan. They teach students all the intricacies of graphic design, including but not limited to:
- Multimedia and animation programs
- Business Management and entrepreneurship
- Color theory
- Logo design
- Website layouts
- Principles of design
Schools like MCTC also offer students to earn Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) certifications alongside the degree. Other schools, like Marshall, emphasize the social impact graphic designers have. They state their faculty has a “citizen designer” approach, encouraging designers to understand the influence their art can have on the world.
Are There Incentives for Being a Designer in West Virginia?
If you’re wondering if you should move to WV, the answer depends on your lifestyle goals. The state is incentivizing graphic designers and all remote workers to move to the state. The state has an aging population, and young people seeking the hustle and bustle of urban life want something more than WV’s scenic mountains provide. But, what if you want a slow life? To bring more prosperity and population to a primarily rural state, WV has the Ascend WV program.
The WV Department of Tourism is touting the #AlmostHeaven hashtag to show people the state’s splendor. Every sector, including graphic designers, may dismiss it as a place to flourish because of the state’s bad press. However, professionals looking for inspiration will have no shortage of it among the mountains in the daytime and cozy bonfires at night.
By applying, approved individuals working remotely in several areas in the state can move there and gain $12,000 toward finding a home, a year’s worth of free outdoor recreation in every one of the many national parks, and coworking spaces. They can apply to live in any of these four regions:
- Morgantown area
- Greenbrier Valley
- Eastern panhandle
- Greater Elkins area
The application may be worth filling out for graphic designers looking for more natural scenery and a quieter pace of living. Designers could sit on a bench at Coopers Rock overlook or ski down Snowshoe, crafting beautiful designs while embracing nature’s majesty and calm.
Is It Worth Going Into Graphic Design in West Virginia?
Whether you’re already living there or thinking about making the trek, West Virginia has opportunities for graphic designers with a reasonable cost of living. Urbanites might miss the hustle and bustle, but perhaps that isn’t what you want as a creative mind.
West Virginia graphic design salaries are reasonable for the area and could be higher, especially if you’re working remotely for a company in a different state. There’s always mobility with this kind of work, and West Virginia may be the ideal balance between fast-paced design work and slow living in the mountains.
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.