The end of the year is a time for reflection and goal setting. And while there’s still a month to go before this one comes to an end, it’s helpful to have some information in your back pocket when making decisions about what professional pursuit you might take on next.
This infographic from Flowing Data catalogues the salaries of 800 occupations made available in the most recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with data from 2018.
The chart looks at 22 different occupation groups, which can be viewed individually or together as an overall chart, for a holistic view of compensation in the U.S. labor market. An occupation’s vertical position indicates median annual salary. The size of the circle is proportionate to the number of people in the occupation, and the color of the circle indicates job category. The resulting effect is a sort of trippy, rainbow-infused water-droplet-shape of a data set, with large, warm-colored circles at the bottom, representing sales office and administrative support; installation, maintenance, and repair; production; and arts and entertainment. That last category pertains to you, designers!
The circles get smaller and more blue along higher parts of the y-axis, as occupations like healthcare (which is actually quite stratified), business and finance, computing and mathematics, and management make appearances. Basically, that means there’s more money being made in those sectors.
So where does art and design fall into this psychedelic map? For that, you’ll need to look at two particular sectors: arts and entertainment, and architecture and engineering.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for graphic designers in 2018 was $50,370; fine artists (including illustrators) came to $49,380. Interior designers had a median salary of $53,370; and the rather vague “designers, all other” catch-all category had a median of $60,570. Art directors topped the chart for this occupation group, with a median salary of $92,780.
Architecture and engineering makes its way a bit further up the graph, with several jobs breaking the $100,000 mark (though, sadly, I can’t say the jobs at the upper levels of this category relate to the arts). In this group, we see industrial engineers with a median of $87,040; architects (excluding landscape and naval) at $79,380; and architectural and civil drafters at $54,920.
Salaries will always vary within individual sectors, based on a lot of different factors: experience, location, company size, benefits, and more. But looking at industry averages can be a good place to start. So how does your salary stack up? Is the median salary for a photographer really only $34,000? In the words of Whitney Houston, let’s see the receipts. Now we can—and while the median results might be prettier for some occupations than others, one thing we can say for sure is: This data visualization is pretty easy on the eyes.