Want to know where to go to earn the most for your designs? According to data from Glassdoor.com, these cities are looking for clever graphic designers and CSS gurus to join their ranks. Keep reading for the top cities for web designers:
Jump to: Columbus, OH | Durham, NC | Burlington, VT | Bethesda, MD | Boston, MA | Bridgeport, CT | Los Angeles, CA | Portland, OR | Columbia, MO | Miami, FL | Austin, TX | Salt Lake City, UT | Philadelphia, PA | Framingham, MA | Los Angeles, CA | Denver, CO | Oakland, CA | Chicago, IL | Dallas-Fort Worth, TX | Atlanta, GA | Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN | Raleigh-Durham, NC | New York City, NY | Miami, FL | Seattle, WA | Washington, D.C. | San Francisco, CA
27. Columbus, OH
You can’t get much more Midwest than Ohio. If you want to get closer to family and friends in this area of the country, or simply find a slower pace, then Columbus is worth a look. Columbus has a large population of 892,533, but the average home costs $136,500. The average web developer earns $32.06 per hour here with an annual salary of about $66,682.
Factor in the cost of living and the average salary is comfortable for most people. Columbus hits right in the middle of the 100 best places to live, with some pros and cons. However, if it’s close to family, you also have to factor in time spent with those you love. Columbus is known for its art, music, theaters and museums. Ohio State University is located in the city and contributes to the culture.
The city attracts millennials because it is growing rapidly, which also means there are local businesses which cater to the younger crowd, such as bars, restaurants and entertainment venues. You’ll also find beautiful parks and gardens for a lazy afternoon stroll.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $66,682
26. Durham, NC
Are you looking for an area where the pace is a bit slower and you can get back to your southern roots (or find new ones)? The city has a smaller population of about 274,291 and an average home cost of $195,000. However, there are numerous web designer and developer jobs listed for those looking for work in the tech industry. The average salary for a web designer is $55,310 and around $71,000 for a front end developer.
The Raleigh and Durham area was named the tenth best place to live in the United States. The area is known for its research and technology via the universities. The area is filled with young families and singles and has many restaurants and craft breweries. The cost of living is lower than the national average, so while salaries don’t rank up there with what you’ll make in California or New York City, your money will stretch further.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $71,000
25. Burlington, VT
The beautiful state of Vermont is another east coast favorite where you can find a good-paying web designer job but still get away from some of the downsides of big city living. Burlington was named number 24 out of the 100 best places to live. The town sits on Lake Champlain and is home to the University of Vermont. It’s also ranked one of the top 10 cities for foodies due to the many restaurant choices. If you like the great outdoors, you’ll enjoy the nearby mountains and lake recreation in the summer.
The average web designer makes $52,768, which is a little below the national average, but web developers jump to $74,000 with a few years of experience. It’s well worth developing additional skills to increase your income potential.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $74,000
24. Bethesda, MD
One study ranked Bethesda as one of the top five cities for web developers. It’s a mid-size city, but is near other metro areas such as Rockville and Frederick and is under 30 minutes from Washington, D.C. The average salary for a web developer in the city is $79,280, but the cost of living is fairly low for the east coast. You’ll gain access to the many museums and national treasures of D.C. but get away from the hustle and bustle associated with the city.
The town is known for good schools and safety. There is a family vibe to the area. Which is one of the reasons why it’s on our top cities for web designers list. You’ll pay a bit more to live in the town, but you can also go to outlying areas and reduce your housing costs. You won’t find a lot of nightlife or much excitement if you’re a young single, though.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $79,280
23. Boston, MA
Have you been thinking about making a move to Beantown? Boston offers a rich history, but also has a developing tech hub which rivals cities such as Austin. Boston is one of the cities most likely to lead the world in technology in the coming years. The town is noted as a competitor to Silicon Valley and Seoul, Korea. Boston was named one of the top 27 best places to live and top 25 to retire. Because it is a large city, you’ll find diverse culinary offerings, top schools and big employers.
The median salary for web developers in Boston comes in at $80,546 per year, with entry-level web developers earning about $75,000. However, keep in mind that the average home costs around $455,100, so housing will run a bit more than in more rural areas. You’ll gain a city with a diverse mix of people from all walks and the nearby proximity to top universities brings in sharp minds and advances you might not see in other areas. In your off time, check out the many historical landmarks, spend time at the Boston Children’s Museum or head to the Boston Public Garden for some outdoor time.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $80,546
22. Bridgeport, CT
Are you thinking about striking out on your own as a freelancer? One of the best places to learn the business is surrounded by other creative types who also work freelance and can offer tips and advice for everything from paying your own taxes to growing your business. Bridgeport, Connecticut, is a small town filled with just this type of demographic. However, it’s a mere 60 miles from Manhatten, giving you access to some of the biggest companies in the world where you can work remote part of the time or gain them as clients but still be close enough to meet up for lunch here and there.
Bridgeport is a seaport city teeming with history. However, the population hovers around 150,000 people, making it a smaller community than many of the larger cities along the New England coast. The famous P.T. Barnum lived in the city and served as the mayor at one point. His circus stayed in the town over the winter months. The cost of living in Bridgeport is reasonable compared to some other cities in the area, with a median home value of $170,300 and rent around $1,142 per month.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $75,568
21. Los Angeles, CA
When you think about tech work, you likely think of California. As one of the larger cities in the country, Los Angeles is a natural draw for those looking for work. Not only will you make upwards of $34.75 per hour, but you’ll also gain access to regular sunshine and nearby beaches. L.A. is a popular place to start your career and build a portfolio. Whether you wish to freelance or work for a company, jobs are plentiful in the City of Angels. When you’re ready to expand your career or you just need a change of pace, Silicon Valley is a mere five-and-a-half-hour drive.
Most of the country’s film and television industry is based in Los Angeles, but L.A. is also known for its advances in health and education. Los Angeles is the perfect landing spot for someone who thrives on change, because the city never stays the same. L.A. is constantly moving and changing as new people pour into the town and shift the makeup of the population.
One drawback to living on the west coast is the higher cost of housing and living in general. Compared to the midwest, you’ll pay a lot more even for an apartment. Factor in the cost differences before accepting a job offer and make sure the salary is enough to meet your needs.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $72,290
20. Portland, OR
The upper West Coast of the United States has quickly become a new Silicon Valley. Large tech companies moved into what has been dubbed the Silicon Forest in Seattle and Portland, driving up home prices and the cost of living, but the area grows year after year, making it a solid choice for job-hunting.
The median home price in Portland is in the $400,000s, which is about $100,000 less than the Seattle area. However, the cities are close enough to one another to open up networking opportunities for designers based in the area.
Portland is a bit different than other cities you might live in, with an eclectic mix of personalities that make it unique. The city motto is “Keep Portland Weird.” You’ll find niche shops, museums, an art scene and sports. The town is near mountain ranges, the Pacific Ocean and sprawling forests.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $58,593
19. Columbia, MO
In a study that looked at the availability of jobs, the pay, how typical a position was and the average salary for entry-level work, Columbia came in the top 10. It makes number 19 on our list because growth in the Midwest is a bit slower than in coastal cities. However, for those who want to stay near family in the area, it may be No. 1.
The average entry-level salary for web developers was $63,110 per year with around 200 available job openings. The city is smack in the middle of the state and near the University of Missouri and the Museum of Art and Archaeology. The city offers hiking trails, a beach with a boardwalk and picnic areas. It’s an easy drive to big cities such as St. Louis, Louisville, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Chicago.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $63,110
18. Miami, FL
If warm weather calls your name, you’ll be glad to know Miami offers opportunities for designers. The city already boasts a thriving fashion industry, South Beach and high-end products, but it also gives artists of all types a chance to interact and bounce ideas off one another.
Living and designing in Miami give your work a vibe it won’t get from any other location. The area is known for its Art Deco architecture, tourism and fashion, but the local tech scene keeps gaining ground and shared workspaces are now commonplace. In the past 12 months, Miami startups raised $1.3 billion in venture capital, making it the eighth among the top venture capital cities in America.
No matter what type of design work you want to do, whether signage for retail stores or tech industry web design, you’ll find a position at one of the many diverse companies in this city.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $63,998
17. Austin, TX
Austin is on the rise as a tech hub in the southwestern United States. The city has a young population that is highly educated and a large tech presence with companies such as app developer Phunware, IBM and Dale.
Recent studies show the average salary for graphic designers in Austin fall around $24.03 per hour. The cost of living is a little higher than some other Texas towns at about $346,000 for a median-priced home.
Austin is the capital of Texas and features outdoor activities, music and a thriving cultural scene.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $49,982
16. Salt Lake City, UT
There are many ways to measure how a city suits an individual occupation, but one size never fits all. One measure is how many high-paying tech jobs there are in a town compared to other occupations.
Salt Lake City makes the list of top U.S. cities for designers because it ranks at 30 percent saturation for high-end tech jobs, with a median salary of $53,573 per year. Some of the larger companies in Salt Lake City include Delta Airlines, Clearlink Technologies and eBay.
Living in Salt Lake City gives you access to the beautiful, scenic Wasatch Mountains and the Great Salt Lake. The average home cost is around $280,894.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $53,573
15. Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia has a rich history as a city but isn’t as well known for design. However, fashion designers such as Victoria Writer, Brit Reed and Amy Voloshin have put the city on the map. The design vibe of the city isn’t limited to fashion, though. In 2018, Comcast built the Comcast Technology Center as a huge technology hub in Philly.
The city screams of history and landmarks you’ll recognize from movies such as “Rocky.” Philly is home to the cheesesteak sandwich and where America’s founders wrote the country into existence and hammered out essential details for the Constitution.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $40,716
14. Framingham, MA
When you think about web development and design jobs, your thoughts probably shift to New York and Los Angeles at first. However, if you’re looking for a slower pace and a sense of community on the East Coast, Framingham is a viable option for design jobs. Framingham made the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ list of top five paying cities for web developers at $89,620 per year.
As the city grows, it keeps an eye on adding features to make it more accessible to citizens. Framingham won the Outstanding Planning award for transit-oriented development in the downtown area of the city.
The town is about 20 miles west of Boston but offers less expensive real estate options. You’ll also gain beautiful outdoor spaces where you can hike, fish and ride horses in your free time.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $89,620
13. Los Angeles, CA
Another location on the West Coast, but one worth looking at it, is the City of Angels. Los Angeles is consistently in the top five cities for job listings in web development.
On Glassdoor alone, there are over 1,000 graphic designer jobs listed. Expand the search to more creative endeavors or the development end of things and the number triples at least.
The average web designer salary in Los Angeles is about 10 percent below the national average at $21.79 per hour. However, when you add in the cost of living for Los Angeles, the number seems even more challenging. LA is a great place to get your foot in the door because of the availability of jobs, but you may consider moving to a higher paying city on the list after gaining some experience.
Los Angeles is an exciting city. There isn’t a majority population, but a mix of different communities and backgrounds. The diversity allows an opportunity to work with team members that have different views and learn new methods in design and marketing.
Silicon Valley is a mere five or six hours away from the city, opening up even more opportunities for career growth and working with larger tech companies.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $45,323.20
12. Denver, CO
The government predicts web developer occupations will grow 15 percent by 2026. Denver is one of those growing cities and is listed as the best city for software developers, making it a natural fit for anyone in tech or design.
The city boasts high salaries and a lower cost of living than California coastal cities. New tech companies looking for a less expensive location for headquarters than Silicon Valley turn to Denver.
In addition to hot real estate, the area also offers nearby skiing and outdoor sports to help workers live a healthier lifestyle.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $63,604
11. Oakland, CA
Web developers earn about $81,870 per year in Oakland. Oakland lays on the east side of the San Francisco Bay and enjoys the mild weather of the southern west coast of America. The city is very diverse, with citizens who speak more than 125 different languages.
Creative types love living in Oakland because of its vast array of artists and a thriving art scene. Even though the technology industry in Oakland is among its top, it also has some other successful businesses in retail, health care and services. You’ll also find schools such as Mills College and the nearby University of California Berkeley.
Count yourself lucky if you are a successful, creative web designer who’s in the market for a move. As you can see, the options listed here provide ample opportunities and a diverse range of locations to choose from.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $81,870
10. Chicago, IL
Probably not an expected city on a tech city list, Chicago is emerging as a hub for the growing health technology industry. Odds are good that most jobs will focus on building and maintaining sites for these companies.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $50,752
9. Dallas-Fort Worth, TX
Prerecession, this part of Texas wasn’t something you’d have seen on any tech city list. However, Dallas’s startup industry has been growing since, with more than 33 tech companies in the area and more than 20 tech IPOs slated for 2015.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $54,000
8. Atlanta, GA
With a low cost of living, Atlanta might actually be one of the sweeter places to live on this list, and that’s without counting the peaches. Atlanta is one of the top cities in the country for entrepreneurs, and women are cleaning up when it comes to SBA grants in the city. Ready to open your own startup? Assemble the team and head to the Big Peach.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $54,000
7. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
If you love snow, this is the place for you. There’s no getting around the fact that the weather in Minneapolis requires faux-fur lined hats and can’t-put-my-arms-down heavy coats. If you don’t have a problem with extremely cold weather, Minneapolis has a career for you.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $55,000
6. Raleigh-Durham, NC
The Research Triangle Park of North Carolina is made of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, and carries some heavy perks. You can live just a few miles from the heart of one of these cities but still be in a soft and quiet countryside. Or you can live in a bustling downtown district with a vibrant art scene.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $58,000
5. New York City, NY
If you’ve never been to NYC, it’s past time for a visit. If you hate to drive, love skyscrapers and suffer from insomnia, you’ve been hearing the call of the Big Apple for years without ever knowing it. The City that Never Sleeps is one of the easiest cities to navigate via public transportation. Its ever-growing technical community is bursting with savants starting new Web firms.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $60,000
4. Miami, FL
It isn’t all about the beach, but it’s definitely a plus. This growing tech city has been attracting conferences from 3-D printing geeks and even the Technology Foundations of the Americas. There’s a growing number of engineering grads choosing to stay in Miami post-graduation and open startups. They’re always on the lookout for Web-savvy people.
Average Designer/Developer Salary:: $61,000
3. Seattle, WA
Riddled with everything from small independent startups to full-service marketing firms, there’s a huge market here for a web designer and is a perfect addition to the top cities for web designers. If you love waking up early to explore fish markets or a solid evening music scene, check out the competition before you form your own firm.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $62,000
2. Washington, D.C.
Always on the lookout for the next Silicon Valley, Washington has been creeping its way up the list for years now. In 2014, CB Insights reported a 65 percent increase in deal growth for Washington, the highest increase in the U.S.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $63,433
1. San Francisco, CA
The Bay area is home to roiling morning fog, coffee stands and a bustling nightlife, as well as Internet giants like Twitter. Major players in the Web are relocating to San Francisco because it offers such a wide variety of lifestyle options for their employees, making this city one of the fastest-growing markets for tech business. The only downfall to living in San Francisco is the incredibly high cost of living.
Average Designer/Developer Salary: $64,000
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 dog, Bear.