Top 20 U.S. Cities For Freelance Graphic Designers


Freelancing is on the rise in the United States, for good or ill, and graphic designers are leading the charge. According to estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 259,500 graphic designers in the U.S. and 24 percent of them are self-employed. Zen99, a company that simplifies taxes for self-employed workers, undertook a study to discover and compare which cities provide “the biggest bang for the buck” for self-employed or freelance graphic designers.

The study explores: where do graphic designers earn the most? which cities have the highest percentage of self-employed designers? how affordable are living costs? and how affordable is health insurance? The key takeaways:  Los Angeles is first in the overall Top Cities rankings followed by Oakland and San Francisco. Cities in the Midwest, such as Detroit and the Twin Cities which are experience growth in the tech sector, are on the rise. Purely in terms of salaries, the average annual graphic designer salary is $44,150 … and San Francisco, Oakland, New York City and Seattle generate the highest salaries. Highest rents? San Francisco followed by New York, Los Angeles and Seattle.

According to the Zen99 Study, authored by CEO Tristan Zier, here are the Top Cities for Freelance Graphic Designers:

1. Los Angeles CA

2. Oakland CA

3. San Francisco CA

4. Portland OR

5. Miami FL

6. Tulsa OK

7. Detroit MI

8. St. Paul MN

9. Denver CO

10. Greensboro NC

11. Minneapolis MN

12. Atlanta GA

13. Seattle WA

14. New York NY

15. Dallas TX

16. Long Beach CA

17. Nashville TN

18. Cincinnati OH

19. Chicago IL

20. Mesa AZ