Are you looking to start a career in graphic design or just curious about how much one earns?
A graphic designer in Kenya with 1-4 years of experience earns KSh 40,000 per month on average or approximately KSh 480,000 annually. One with 5-9 years of experience will earn above KSh 42,000 per month or KSh 508,000 annually. This number varies depending on the experience of the designer, their skill level, and whether they are permanently or self-employed. Below is a detailed breakdown of these factors.
How long a graphic designer has worked in the industry determines their pay. A newbie with zero working experience and a senior graphic designer with up to a decade or more will have a wide gap in pay between them.
An entry-level designer whether self-taught or fresh from college will earn a minimum of KSh 25,000 monthly up to KSh 35,000. Some Kenyan companies and government agencies will offer internships at lower pay with the promise of an increase in 6 months or so. Others will pay you a daily stipend for your food and transport or nothing in the name of gaining experience. This is a horrible exploitative practice that goes against labor laws and should not be accepted by any self-respecting graphic designer. Not only is it bad for the industry, but ironically, they will burden the designer with the most work, and will probably make them hate their work which is not a great place to start a creative career. Don’t work for free.
An early-career graphic designer with 1-4 years of experience earns on average KSh 40,000 per month or KSh 479,320 annually according to payscale.com. This could range from KSh 30,000 to KSh 50,000 depending on the other factors listed in this article. Contrary to popular opinion, the level of education isn’t very significant in terms of salary. Don’t get me wrong, a certificate or degree is important in learning a lot of the skills you’ll require especially workflow; however, many employers are more interested in your portfolio. A self-taught graphic designer could have a better quality body of work compared to a graduate and vice-versa. Some employers, especially government agencies will ask for papers, maybe even your KCSE certificate, but ironically again, these agencies’ pay offers are often on the lower end of the scale.
A mid-career graphic designer with 5-9 years of experience earns an average of KSh 42,000 or KSh 508,000 annually. Not much difference from the previous group, but often the minimum stands at KSh 40,000. This is also the range where promotions and higher positions come in such as Senior graphic designer and brand manager. These positions attract salaries up to KSh 250,000 per month or 3 million annually in the top ranks. Of course, this group sits at the top of the pyramid often there’ll be only one position available per company, and only the large corporations e.g. Safaricom, Banks, etc offering that seven-figure amount.
An experienced Graphic Designer with 10-19 years of experience earns an average salary of KSh 65,000 per month or KSh 780,000 annually. Again, depending on the rank they acquire, senior, brand manager, art director, they are looking at a very high (breakable) ceiling of 3m.
|Entry Level (no experience)||25,000-35,000|
|Early Career (1-4 yrs)||30,000-50,000|
|Mid Career (5-9 yrs)||40,000- 250,000|
|Experienced (10-20 yrs)||65,000-250,000|
Most graphic design jobs in Kenya require proficiency in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. A few will require Adobe InDesign especially those requiring publications like books, newsletters, and magazines. A graphic designer’s level of proficiency in these programs will be tested before they are hired and will determine their salary. The better they are the higher the compensation.
Some job ads will ask for a multitude of skills from Photoshop to web design and photography. My advice: Avoid them. Unless they are paying you what they would pay a graphic designer, web designer and photographer combined (which they probably aren’t) keep off. Next, they’ll ask you to clean the office furniture in the evening. It will be a lot of thankless exhausting work and you’ll never be able to improve your skillset since you’re stretched out so thin.
Naturally, the more experience one has the more proficient they will have. However, these programs develop new features on a yearly basis, trends come and go and new tech like 4k and 8k screens and different printing technologies push designers to adapt. In this aspect, younger designers in early careers are better able to adapt and execute these new methods and could receive bonuses based on this. Experienced designers are forced to move to less technical, supervisory functions.
Whether the graphic designer is permanently employed or self-employed (freelance) affects their monthly income. A designer working for a company or government agency will have a regular income payed monthly or per the terms of the contract. In Kenya, private companies are known to pay better than the government and one is more likely to climb up the ranks and get salary increases. On the other hand, government work is more permanent, secure and pensionable. However, creatives working for government will often be left dissatisfied with the work environment, the incompetency especially in promotions and your seniors will probably not know what you do or respect your job description. Hii serikali hii!
Freelance graphic designers are independent contractors working with clients on a wide range of projects. Most work from home with more flexible hours, but just as much if not more work. A freelancer only gets paid when they have a project with a client, which could be done in a day, or 6 months. For this reason, their income is unstable. To be clear, a freelancer could earn more or less what an employed designer would, but it depends on their hourly rate, the type of project and how much work are they getting and how often.
A freelancer could charge KSh2,000 per logo, another will charge KSh100,000. And no, I didn’t add an extra zero. And again, the other factors in this article as well as the self-worth of the designer contribute to that amount. Whichever path the designer takes, they can still find fulfillment, both in income and happiness, in permanent employment or freelance work.
Gender pay gap
As in every other field, social factors affect pay. Racial discrimination, nepotism, and mainly gender discrimination. Female graphic designers on average earn 14% less than men in Kenya according to salaryexplorer.com. It’s just unacceptable to pay two different groups of people different wages for the same amount of work. And that argument about agreeability the maternity narratives from your favorite YouTube philosopher apply in extremely specific situations, and countries if any. An employer, that’s not focused on how they’ll exploit their new hire, but is genuinely concerned for their workers’ needs and resulting productivity would give the same offers to male and female graphic designer applying for the same position. It’s just that simple and actually a very common concept.
The average graphic designer’s salary in Kenya is KSh 40,000 per month, but many factors will influence what one takes home including experience, skills and the place of work. And no, college education isn’t as significant a factor as discussed above. Good luck on your creative and prosperous graphic design career if you’re just starting out.
Are you a graphic designer? How much do you earn? Drop a comment below.