In my experience, it varies greatly depending on many things – location, state, quality of product. Some are just lucky to get their salary up to top-notch, as I have done.
It might be something similar to what I wrote back in 2008:
The salary listed above is what I received when I was a layout artist working for the highest-paid software company in the world. I’ve been around for awhile, so no-one here knows what the money is like, so I figure that’s just an average salary. (Most people don’t get paid $300+/hr; usually it’s more like $225/hr–probably more than that, since they can’t get in on that early “gold rush.”) It does not include any bonuses or work-for-profit incentives that company may offer. I think that’s reasonable for an average layout artist working for the same company as the highest-paid company and doing the same job (which is why I think they were paying someone more in 2011.) Even so, it’s not a lot of money. For some people, this is a full-time job, so you’ll be getting benefits. I’m not sure if it’s the same in most states, but it’s not likely to be.
I’ve been lucky enough to get this kind of salary (along with bonuses), for many years. As a freelance layout artist, I’ve learned so much, and have worked with so many top designers, so many of them are making the same kind of money (though they’re getting paid more, as I’ve said earlier).
I’m not saying that there are no professional layout artists out there, but the percentage of people in the market is small, so the pay is definitely different, plus they might get a higher amount of money for the same job.
What about freelance designers who can’t afford a full-time job?
I’ve done a few freelance clients. One of them is a client, working under my contract. It’s a very small (and expensive) company, but it has one freelancer who does layout. It’s a one-time deal, just the one location, and they don’t have enough money to pay all of their designers. The layout artist works from home, and makes $300/hr; plus about 40% on the phone in the morning and 40% in the afternoon, usually in the afternoon. In short, they could probably pay for a layout
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