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The Best States for Graphic Designers (All 50 States Ranked)

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Best States for Graphic Designers

Are you a graphic designer seeking the best state to take your career to new heights? Look no further! We’ve done the research for you, combing through information from various sources to determine which states present the best opportunities for graphic designers.

Here at Vandelay Design, we’ve gathered all the information career hunters need. Read on to see the results of our research to determine which states came out on top and where each state ranks.

Whether you want to make websites, design logos, or work on other projects, you’ll appreciate the data collected here.

How We Determined the Best States for Graphic Designers

To calculate our rankings of the best states for graphic designers, we looked at four key factors:

  1. The percentage of employed residents who work in graphic design.
  2. The average salary of graphic designers.
  3. The average cost of living.
  4. The happiness rating of people living in the state.

We used data from sources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Zippia, and World Population Review. (View the full data set.)

The formula weights each of these four factors equally. We believe this research gives a more accurate overall look at the topic compared to other studies that consider only details like the average salary of graphic designers or the number of jobs available.

We included the cost of living in the formula because it helps to determine where you can get the most for your money. And happiness ratings were included because quality of life is critical too.  States that are truly the best places to live will offer more than just work opportunities and income potential.

It’s important to note that the data used for this study includes graphic designers who work as company employees. It does not include freelancers. Of course, many freelancers work with clients throughout the country or worldwide, so they’re location independent.

Once you’ve identified where you want to be, you can search design job boards or browse design agency websites to see who’s hiring.

The Best States for Graphic Designers

Here are the top five states based on the data.

1. Minnesota

You may be surprised to see Minnesota take the top spot. It may not be the first location that comes to mind, but it’s an excellent option for graphic designers.

Minnesota scored in the middle of the pack for average salary and cost of living but scored very well for opportunities per capita. With the third-highest happiness rating (only Hawaii and Utah are higher), Minnesota is an excellent choice.

2. New York

New York has a lot to offer in terms of opportunities for graphic designers (ranked 1st) and average salary (ranked 3rd). It also ranked 14th in happiness. But the high cost of living prevents New York from taking the top spot in our rankings.

3. Nebraska

Nebraska is another one that may be considered a surprise. After all, agriculture comes to mind for many people when thinking of this mid-western state. The 40th ranking for average salary is somewhat offset by the relatively low cost of living. It also scores in the top 10 for happiness.

4. Utah

Utah comes in 3rd overall, with strong scores for happiness and opportunities for graphic designers. Its worst score was for the average salary of graphic designers, where it ranked 39th out of the 50 states.

5. Illinois

Illinois rounds out the top five with strong scores for the average salary and opportunities for graphic designers. It also ranks in the top half for happiness and cost of living.

The Worst States for Graphic Designers

These states had the lowest composite scores in our rankings.

1. Louisiana

Louisiana has the 5th lowest average salary for a graphic designer and the 16th lowest cost of living. Overall, it doesn’t offer great value for graphic designers. Additionally, Louisiana ranks 48th out of 50 in terms of happiness (only Arkansas and West Virginia scored lower).

2. Oklahoma

Oklahoma offers the 4th lowest cost of living, but that’s offset by the 2nd lowest average salary for graphic designers. The state also scored poorly in terms of happiness, ranking 46th.

3. Mississippi

Mississippi offers the lowest cost of living in the U.S., but that’s not enough to offset poor scores in the other categories. A 43rd ranking in happiness and 47th ranking in average salary drag the composite score down.

4. Hawaii

Hawaii scores #1 for happiness (who wouldn’t want to live there?), but the exorbitant cost of living and relative lack of opportunities put Hawaii near the bottom overall.

5. Alaska

Long, cold winters probably contribute to Alaska’s 47th ranking in terms of happiness. Although the state ranks 10th for average salary, the high cost of living more than offsets it.

Full Rankings of the Best States for Graphic Designers

  1. Minnesota
  2. New York
  3. Nebraska
  4. Utah
  5. Illinois
  6. Washington
  7. California
  8. North Dakota
  9. Rhode Island
  10. Virginia
  11. Massachusetts
  12. Wisconsin
  13. Michigan
  14. New Jersey
  15. Kansas
  16. Colorado
  17. North Carolina
  18. Pennsylvania
  19. Ohio
  20. Maryland
  21. Iowa
  22. Idaho
  23. South Dakota
  24. Oregon
  25. Georgia
  26. Maine
  27. Connecticut
  28. Indiana
  29. Florida
  30. Texas
  31. Missouri
  32. Arizona
  33. South Carolina
  34. Nevada
  35. New Hampshire
  36. Tennessee
  37. Kentucky
  38. Delaware
  39. Montana
  40. Vermont
  41. Wyoming
  42. West Virginia
  43. New Mexico
  44. Alabama
  45. Arkansas
  46. Alaska
  47. Hawaii
  48. Mississippi
  49. Oklahoma
  50. Louisiana

Final Thoughts

There are many factors to consider when choosing the best state for graphic designers. Our rankings are based on four important factors that significantly influence your career and lifestyle. Remember that there are many ways to make money as a designer, and you may prefer to freelance from your current location. 

No matter where you choose to live and work as a graphic designer, there will be pros and cons. Research is key when deciding what state offers the best opportunities for you, and hopefully, this data helps.

Data sources:

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