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How much does a freelance graphic designer make around the world?

Here is a breakdown of average income and earnings using real-life experience working with and hiring freelance graphic designers worldwide.

How much does a freelance graphic designer make around the world?



Here is a breakdown of average income and earnings using real-life experience working with and hiring freelance graphic designers worldwide.

It’s often misleading to have one “range” of earnings for the position of freelance graphic designer, so I have broken down my estimations by geographic region to give you a better idea of what to expect.

I have listed the values in the U.S. dollar currency as many freelancers and clients often stick to this currency as it is the most universally understood and most straightforward to visualize when budget considerations are in mind.

The United States & Canada

  • 0-2 years of experience $20-30/hour
  • 2-5 years of experience $30-40/hour
  • 5-10 years of experience $40-65/hour
  • 10+ years of experience $65-200/hour

Freelancers in the US and Canada can potentially earn between $38,400/per year and $384,000/per year. Designers from these regions pull in record earnings being the highest in the world for graphic designers.  

United Kingdom & EU

  • 0-2 years of experience $12-20/hour
  • 2-5 years of experience $20-30/hour
  • 5-10 years of experience $30-50/hour
  • 10+ years of experience $50-120/hour

Freelancers in the UK and the EU can potentially earn between $24,000/per year and $250,000/per year. Only next to US and Canada, designers from the UK and EU can also expect high earnings, and amongst the highest in the world.

The Middle East

  • 0-2 years of experience $5-10/hour
  • 2-5 years of experience $10-12/hour
  • 5-10 years of experience $12-20/hour
  • 10+ years of experience $20-30/hour

Freelancers in the Middle East can expect to earn between $10,000/per year and $60,000/per year. A combination of factors contributes to the comparatively lower rate. Middle Eastern Countries benefit from close proximity to Asia and have a large number of immigrants working there. The lower cost of living also makes it favorable for designers to work at these competitive rates. 

Pakistan & India

  • 0-2 years of experience $5-10/hour
  • 2-5 years of experience $8-12/hour
  • 5-10 years of experience $10-25/hour
  • 10+ years of experience $25-35/hour

Freelancers in Pakistan and India can expect to earn between $10,000/per year and $68,000/per year. Both countries foster great design talent, often who are highly proficient in using design software. The low cost of living and a high degree of competition affects the earnings of designs in these regions. 

China

  • 0-2 years of experience $5-15/hour
  • 2-5 years of experience $10-20/hour
  • 5-10 years of experience $15-30/hour
  • 10+ years of experience $20-45/hour

Freelance Graphic Designers in China can earn between $10,000/per year and $86,000/per year. While the skill level of designers and the competition within the field are identical to that of Pakistan and India, designers in China benefit from a rich manufacturing industry. This means the domestic demand for designers in China is high. Overseas clients also prefer working with them, if they are manufacturing in China as well.

Japan

  • 0-2 years of experience $15-20/hour
  • 2-5 years of experience $20-40/hour
  • 5-10 years of experience $30-50/hour
  • 10+ years of experience $40-80/hour

Only behind the Americas and the EU region, Japan has the third highest freelance graphic designer salaries in the world. Designers here can expect to earn between $30,000/per year and $150,000/per year. The design talent from Japan benefits from a strong design education system, a high degree of exposure to global brands, and a thriving manufacturing industry. It has a high degree of exposure to art and brands from all corners of the world, and clients targeting a global market often seek freelancers from Japan. 

Southeast Asia

  • 0-2 years of experience $3-5/hour
  • 2-5 years of experience $3-8/hour
  • 5-10 years of experience $5-10/hour
  • 10+ years of experience $10-20/hour

Southeast Asia is one of the most affordable places to find talent, however, the designers here make some of the lowest salaries here. They can expect to earn between $6,000/per year and $40,000/per year. This is not to say that there aren’t earning possibilities. Especially in countries like Singapore and Malaysia, where upper-end designers can make $80,000 annually. 

Latin America

  • 0-2 years of experience $3-10/hour
  • 2-5 years of experience $5-12/hour
  • 5-10 years of experience $5-20/hour
  • 10+ years of experience $10-30/hour

Latin American countries are the fastest growing countries in terms of design talent and design salaries as well. With proximity to the US and immense exposure to American design standards, the quality of work is quite high. Freelance graphic designers here can expect to earn anywhere from $6,000/per year to $60,000/per year. 

Africa

  • 0-2 years of experience $3-5/hour
  • 2-5 years of experience $3-8/hour
  • 5-10 years of experience $5-10/hour
  • 10+ years of experience $10-50/hour

African countries have a number of freelance graphic designers in the region who are extremely skilled in software usage. There is also a high level of competition which leads to rates with the greatest gap between entry-level and expert designers. The annual earnings of freelance designers in the region are between $6,000/per year to $100,000/per year. 

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Why are “overseas” freelance graphic designers paid less than "domestic" freelancers?

I’ll preface this by saying, “There are many reasons why overseas freelance graphic designers are paid less,” and it’s a complex issue that is supported by both the freelancer side and the client side, which sets these terms.

This opinion is assuming that the “overseas” freelancers are working with “domestic” (read, US, Canada, and UK/EU clients).

By “overseas,” I am using this as a generalization for freelancers from developing countries outside of the US, Canada, and the UK, even some parts of the EU, namely to the east, many clients consider overseas.

My intention here is not to offend. I am simply offering the truth. Many people think “everyone should be paid the same for the same work,” however, we live in a capitalistic society, and that’s not remotely how capitalism works.

Here are the answers I’ve heard from both clients and freelancers:

  • Freelancers from overseas often devalue their work to be competitive
  • Clients expect that overseas freelancers are cheaper to hire
  • Freelancers from overseas have lower costs of living
  • Clients want to work with people like themselves, so they devalue overseas freelancers
  • Freelancers from overseas see themselves as less valuable
  • Clients who purchase on price take advantage of high-skill, low-value laborers
  • Freelancers from overseas often don’t have the same standards of style and finish quality
  • Clients expect that overseas freelancers will require more work as they work in a less intuitive way

Where are the cheapest graphic designers to hire?

The Philippines.

As you can see from companies like Design Pickle, you can get a full-time freelance graphic design for $499/month. When you factor in a typical profit margin going to Design Pickle, they’re most likely paying their designers about $2/hour.

I disagree with this, but... it’s capitalism, and if someone is willing to work for this amount of money, you can’t stop them. I have noticed the quality coming from Design Pickle is very poor, and the way the system is set up with single projects and a 1-2 day turnaround, your “full time” graphic designer is most likely only working a couple of hours per day.

In my opinion, it is better to hire a good designer from this region on an as-needed basis instead of signing on to a service like Design Pickle. Using that service is a high workload on the client as a lot of hand-holding and guidance are needed.

Where are the best graphic designers located around the world?

The United States, Canada, and Japan have the best graphic designers in the world.

Although there are many great up-and-comers from LATAM, they come at the disadvantage of not being surrounded by beautiful architecture, domestic brands, museums, art, and education as those from the US, Canada, and Japan.

Domestic freelance graphic designers have the advantage of being surrounded by success from an early age and often don’t have any obstacles to getting a good education, and having access to art, museums, and cultural references.

Where are the best “bang for the buck” freelance graphic designers located?

The Philippines, India, and Pakistan.

Freelance graphic designers from these countries have a fantastic work ethic and are often raised speaking English, so language barriers are often not a problem.

Freelancers from these countries are good, however, because of numerous factors such as culture, brand exposure, and education, domestic clients often need to over-communicate what they want, understand design processes, and supply numerous references.

Freelancers from these countries can overcome this by continually working on communication techniques, language learning, and familiarizing themselves with domestic brands and cultures daily. Becoming an expert on who their domestic clients are and what they are exposed to can help freelancers from these regions immensely.

Who are the most expensive graphic designers to hire?

Buy nice, or buy twice.

The United States has the most expensive freelance graphic designers in the world. This comes from many factors, including the cost of living and their often immense experience working with world-class brands, having access to the best education, and a close relationship with their clients from a cultural perspective. There is also a confidence built into domestic freelancers that allows them to have an abundance mindset allowing them to never race to the bottom on pricing.

People generally like working with people like themselves and those they look up to. This is much easier to achieve as domestic freelancers working with domestic clients. The freelancer and client are often surrounded by the same or very similar design aesthetics, brands, and cultural references.

Are earnings limited by region? 

Yes and no. If you are a beginner who is just starting out or in the first few years of your freelance practice, the region that you operate out of can have a profound impact on how much you can charge for your services. Even if you are able to stack multiple skills in a short time, it's likely that geographical location plays a role.


In order to qualify for the highest earnings, you will likely have to seek clients in the US, Canada, the UK, and the EU. These clients may prefer to work with someone who is in a similar time zone and can understand their language and requirements better. 


However, there is a way to close this pay gap. It is with experience and proficiency that one can increase their income as a freelance designer. If you are from one of the developing nations, this will be an uphill climb. However, if you are able to establish yourself as an industry expert, and have multiple large-scale projects with global brands, the sky is the limit. 


It is only then that you can expect to become region independent. That is the ultimate freelance lifestyle, where you can work from anywhere in the world. This needs to be a long-term goal and often takes close to a decade to achieve. With the right approach and a constant push for progress, anyone can become a region independent freelance graphic designer.

How much does a freelance graphic designer make around the world?

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