Highest Paying Design Jobs

Individuals can pursue design-related careers in a wide variety of fields, from fashion to computing to engineering. Many of these career options also offer attractive salaries, especially for those who make it to the top ten percent of their field.

Career Options for High-Paying Design Jobs

While most people may immediately imagine design careers in fashion or some sort of art, there are plenty of other design careers in scientific and computing fields that individuals may be interested in pursuing. Many design jobs offer high salaries, and individuals who are able to work their way to the top of the field have the potential to earn even more. Below, we will discuss five different careers that involve design.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Software Developer $102,280 17%
Computer Hardware Engineer $115,080 3%
Industrial Designer $67,790 2%
Fashion Designer $65,170 3%
Architect $76,930 7%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Advertising and Commercial Design
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Career Information for High-Paying Design Jobs

Software Developer

Software developers work with clients to create different types of computer software, from applications software to systems software. There is a heavy design aspect to this career, as software developers must put their creativity to good use when creating entirely new types of software. These developers made a median salary of $100,080, though systems software developers at the top ten percent of their field made $163,220. To become a software developer, you usually will need a computer science bachelor's degree.

Computer Hardware Engineer

As a computer hardware engineer, you will be responsible for designing and developing various types of computer equipment, like memory devices, circuit boards, and processors, by brainstorming new designs, creating prototypes, and testing them to make sure they function properly. As technology keeps advancing, computer hardware engineers will have to continue being creative to come up with new designs. Computer hardware engineers in 2016 made a median salary of $115,080, while some made as much as $172,010. To become a computer hardware engineer, you will usually need a bachelor's degree in computer engineering.

Industrial Designer

Industrial designers are the creative minds behind the designs of things like home appliances, cars, and children's toys. These designers work with clients to understand the desired product, use computer software to create designs and physical prototypes, and then evaluate and present the product to clients. The median salary for industrial designers in 2016 was $67,790, but the top ten percent of industrial designers made $105,690, so there is the potential to make quite a bit more in this field. To become an industrial designer, you will usually need a bachelor's degree in a field like architecture, engineering, or industrial engineering.

Fashion Designer

Fashion designers create clothing, shoes, and accessories. Some of their responsibilities may include selecting fabrics and materials, sketching designs, collaborating with other designers, and marketing their designs to different retailers and stores. Fashion designers made a median salary of $65,170, though they have the potential to make much more, as the top ten percent made $130,050 in 2016. To become a fashion designer, you will likely need a fashion design or merchandising degree.


Architects draw their designs of houses, offices, and other types of structures, by hand or by using computer software, and then present them to clients to make sure they've properly captured their vision. Architects often work closely with building contractors and construction managers while construction is taking place to make sure the designs are accurately followed. Architects made a median salary of $76,930 in 2016, though architects at the top of their field made $129,810. To become an architect, you will need to complete a professional degree in architecture and obtain licensure.

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