2019 Design Census

September 25, 2019

AIGA and Google have released the results of their 2019 Design Census. The census is an open and collaborative resource for understanding the complex economic, social, and cultural factors shaping the design practice today (in the United States).

The Census aims to uncover insights through data, leading to deeper and more informed conversations about where the design industry is now and where it’s headed.

Design professionals working across the U.S. participated, and the results help paint a clearer picture of the design industry today.

Over 9,000 people participated in the 2019 Design Census. Some of the highlights include the following.

Who is designing?

  • In 2019, most designers have 5-9 years experience, compared to 2017, when the majority of designers had 1-4 years experience.
  • Degrees are still the most prevalent education experience, with online learning and other workshops and programs on the rise.
  • More women than ever are in the design workforce, as are non-binary designers – though this data set is too small to be statistically significant.
  • Women outnumber men in every category, especially as students. The numbers are most equal in the self-employed/small business owner category.
  • Women designers are more likely to work in social impact and illustration, while men are more likely to work in tech-based design disciplines.
  • The number of designers who identify as LGBTQIA+ has increased 5% since 2017.

How do designers work?

  • After communication/graphic design, most designers work in business and the arts, including fine art, art history, and design history.
  • After art direction, most designers are skilled in drawing/painting, photography, data visualization, UI and UX design, coding, copywriting, and 3D/animation.
  • Most designers work full-time in-house or at an agency / consultancy. Slightly more designers today, compared to 2017, work freelance or are self-employed.
  • The drop off rate for full-time employees working in-house or at an agency is around the four-year mark. Most self-employed/small business owners are in it for 11+ years.
  • Most designers work either 40 hours or 41-50 hours each week. Those putting in 60+ hours each week are self-employed or small business owners. Those working between 40-50 hours are full-time employees.

How much do designers earn?

  • Most designers make between $50,000-$75,000 a year, regardless of gender. Global creative directors command the highest pay at $146,777 annually, while junior designers are paid the least at $44,837 a year.
  • Women hold just 11% of leadership positions in the design industry and make 80 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts.

Are designers satisfied?

  • Only 11% of designers say they’re extremely happy, while 7% say they’re ready to call it quits.
  • The number of designers who worry about their job tripled from 2017, but the vast majority of designers saying they feel concerned about the stability of their current position.
  • The happiest designers are most likely to say they feel spread too thin, while the least happy say they’re not creatively fulfilled and don’t feel valued.

The future of the industry

  • Designers say artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and collaborative design software are poised to change the industry.

The full details of the report can be viewed at Design Census 2019.