Perception is a funny thing. At lunch yesterday, I overheard a woman declaring that, as a designer, she could easily start out at a local giant like Nike making over $100,000 a year. It got me wondering about salaries in our field. Was she way off?

A List Apart just realeased their web designer survey results and it is quite intereseting to see trends related to age, income and so on. If our lunch friend was talking about web design, it appears she was indeed off target; Only about 6% of web designers report pulling in over 100 grand a year. Average salary look to be about $40 to 60 (and this is a mix of seasoned and new designers usually with titles such as Information Architect or Creative Director). A quarter of those surveyed bring in under $20,000 a year. If huge salaries aren’t the draw, then what is?

Web designers appear to generally enjoy their jobs. Job satisfaction grows with age with women, on the whole, more satisfied in their jobs than men. Interestingly, respondents who are project managers and information architects indicated the highest satisfaction with their work, which does appear to relate to salaries above.

Overall, this survey is quite an interesting peek into the trends and realities of our field. I’d love to see this survey compared with a general design survey. I wonder if we’d still see such young (43% of us are 25-32), male-dominated (82.8%) demographic.