State of design – Results 2: Income x Disciplines x Education x Perks


In part 1, we covered all the basics regarding income. In this part, we look at how income relates to disciplines and education and what additional perks might come with the job.

A word of warning: although we have had 287 respondents and therefore have the perhaps biggest dataset of any Danish design survey in recent times, deep diving into specifics may influence how generalizable the results are. They are clearly indicative, and various patterns emerge across the different graphs, but we would probably need a much larger sample size to draw any absolute conclusions.

Income x Design Disciplines

We start off by having a look at how income relates to the various design disciplines.

Income x Design Disciplines: Everyone in DKK

Income x Design Discipline: Employee, Team leader and Director, Owner, Founder in DKK (excluding Self-employed)
Income x Design Discipline: Employee in DKK
Income x Design Disciplines: Self-employed in DKK

In all the categories above except for this last “Self-employed” graph, it seems like there is a slight trend that it is the newer and more ephemeral design disciplines that brings in most income. Part of the reason might be that most directors and owners (who are paid the most) also emphasize for example strategic design work.

We first found it strange that Communication Design seemed to be a major exclusion to this trend coming in last overall. But looking closer at the numbers reveals that this might be because it is a term mostly used by the Self-employed in our study, and therefore it reflects their substantially lower income (as seen in part 1) more than it reflects anything else.

The design discipline question these graphs are based on was a multiple choice allowing the respondents to choose more than one discipline, which leads to a more valid data set.

Income x Education

We also asked the respondents how they would rate the usefulness of their educational background and then mapped it up against their income.

Average Rating x School – 1 = worst, 10 = best
Income x Rating of Education 1 = worst, 10 = best

This is probably more speculative than valid, but it curiously shows that income is actually a bit higher among those who rate their education’s usefulness in the bottom half. However, there can be many reasons for this. For example, it could be that you are more critical of your education the more senior you get – and since people tend to go up in income over time, this could explain the difference. Or it could be random fluctuations that happen when you spread a data set like this over ten different options.

A bit more solid is our mapping of how income relates to whether you have studied internationally or in Denmark. However the numbers are fairly close, so not much to report here.

International or Danish Education x Income

We also mapped the type/length of the education against income, and it turned out fairly even across the board. Whether this means that education is a waste of time or that the ones who make it in the industry without education have had the extraordinary talent to be able to do without is anybody’s guess. The PhD category should be excluded since the data set was too limited for it to be valid. We included it merely to show that there are some huge differences in income in the field of design.

Educational Level x Income

Basic Perks

Enough talk about income. Let´s talk about perks! We started with the basics – the most important questions.

Pension, Private Healthcare: Everyone

Pension, Private Healthcare: Employees & Team Leaders

Pension, Private Healthcare, Unemployment Insurance: Self-employed

If you are an employee, basically everyone (95%) has a pension, and there is a widespread use of private healthcare. As expected, the numbers are a bit lower in the Self-employed category. We also asked the Self-employed whether they had unemployment insurance, and about 82% answered yes to this.

Extra Employee Perks

So we figured that employees probably had a lot of extra perks on top of their income to sweeten the deal of having a boss. But first, we asked how they were compensated for overtime. Surprisingly, almost 60% said that they don’t get compensated, whereas the majority of the rest get compensatory time off.

Overtime Compensation

But then there are all the other perks…

It is impressive how flexible work is for most respondents. Almost 80% can work from home 2 days or more a week, and to a large degree, most can plan quite freely when.

How often can you work from home?
And to what extend can you personally choose when?

Many of the respondents expressed satisfaction with their current perks, but there were 3 major trends amongst their requests: 1) greater flexibility in terms of more vacation, better work-from-home opportunities, paid maternity leave and more of that sort. 2) Skills upgrade in the form of conferences, study trips etc. And finally a recurring request for 3) higher wage.

This lead us to asking how many out there was looking for a new job or freelancing.

Are you considering a new job or freelancing?

If you are looking for a new job: Why?

Wanting more meaningful work is a clear winner, and it is something to be mindful of if you are hiring designers or trying to keep the talent you already have. Otherwise, you will find them looking for a new job – presumably on LinkedIn.

Where do you look for a new job?

As the final graph in this part of our State of Design survey, we turned the table and asked the Self-employed whether they are considering employment rather than freelance.

Self-employed: Are you considering employment?

That is it for this second chapter of the design survey. We will be back soon – next time with what designers love about their job, and maybe the not-so-fun.