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Best Cities for Web Designers

Since most major web design studios and companies that employ in-house web design teams are located in major metropolitan areas, aspiring Web Designers may be seriously considering relocating to another city in order to find a job. This is an understandable impulse, but it also carries a tremendous risk, particularly for designers who don’t yet have a stable job in the city they are moving to. One way to approach this concern is to research and explore the different qualities that make a city ideal for Web Designers and then look at the kinds of jobs on offer in those cities.

What is a Web Designer?

Web Designers are creative professionals who are tasked with designing the layout and assets for web pages and mobile applications. They are creative professionals who are responsible for designing evocative and visually appealing web designs for their clients, and they will work on a diverse range of different projects. They tend to be well-rounded creatives who use both creative software applications and programming knowledge to design and build web applications. Using software applications such as Figma or Adobe XD, web designers will construct the appearance and feel of both the visual and functional elements of a webpage before handing that design off to web developers who will make the design a reality. At smaller firms, a Web Designer may also be expected to work on the programming side of a web design project, so most Web Designers learn the basics of HTML/CSS and JavaScript.

Web designers are most commonly employed by design firms that contract their service to clients, though many work as self-employed freelancers or work in-house for large businesses that are regularly building or updating web applications. They will most frequently work as part of large teams of designers and developers when working on large projects, but they may also find themselves working on individual smaller assignments, particularly if they are working as freelancers. Web Designers may specialize in working on specific elements or aspects of webpages or digital applications, such as building user interfaces or working on the tactile elements of a webpage to build a positive user experience.

What Makes a City Good for Web Designers?

There are a lot of different things that make a city an ideal place to start a web design career. Outside of the obvious issues, such as job opportunities and higher starting salaries, some cities have significant tertiary advantages that make them ideal places to live. Web Designers will also want to consider looking for cities with vibrant tech industries because those tend to be the place where both start-ups and existing businesses do the most cutting-edge design work. It is also worth looking for a city with a vibrant creative community, particularly for designers looking to work in the visual arts aspects of web design.

Job Opportunities

The most obvious concern for anyone looking to move to a new city for work is to find out where the work is. As with most tech-focused jobs, the states with the largest employment rates are the states with the largest cities: California, New York, Illinois, Texas, and Florida. These states tend to have employment rates for Web Designers that are 20-25% higher than the national average, and almost all of those jobs will be located in the major cities that make up the state's population centers. Anyone hoping to land a job as a Web Designer will want to start by looking at offerings in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, NYC, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, and Miami.

Since web design is such an important aspect of any industry, any city that is experiencing massive growth in a sector is likely to also see growth in web design opportunities. For instance, a city that receives a massive technology grant to build new microchip processing factories is also likely to see an increase in demand for web design as internal and external web applications need to be developed for those growing sectors.

High Salaries

As with most jobs, salaries in major cities will be higher than in smaller ones. A Web Designer working in New York City will stand to make significantly more (as much as 50% more) than a Web Designer working in Butte, MT. This comes with the trade-off of having a higher cost of living than a smaller city. It is worth taking a look at job aggregator sites like Indeed and Glassdoor to find the average salary in a given city. For example, a Web Designer in New York City will make $75,000 a year, while a Web Designer in Syracuse will only make about $64,000 a year.

In very large cities like New York City, you may struggle to keep up with the cost of living as an entry-level Web Designer. It isn’t a terrible salary by any means, but anyone hoping to live in or near the city will need to take that into account when starting to look for a job. Most entry-level designers, for example, will be commuters to their firms if they work in a big city.

Strong Web Designer Community

Another important factor to consider when choosing a city to look for work in is whether or not there is a strong community of professional Web Designers there. This may lead designers to look at cities like San Francisco, Atlanta, or Seattle, all of which have large, growing tech industries, meaning that you are likely to be able to find other Web Designers to interface and network with. They may also want to consider looking for cities that have large tech and financial sectors, like Boston or New York since there are also major drivers of web design work.

Less directly, anyone looking to freelance or expand on their web design talents may want to look towards growing cities like Albany to catch the rising wave of developments in the tech or financial sector. This can be risky, but New York City and San Francisco are known commodities where lots of existing firms (and therefore, a lot of existing Web Designers) have set up shop. Moving to a city that is experiencing growth in a major sector is a good way to find budding communities early on.

Artistic Communities

Many Web Designers are creatives at heart, so it might be worth considering looking for a city that has a thriving artistic community. This can be a good professional boon, as aspiring artists may be likely to employ freelance Web Designers to create their digital presences. It can also be useful simply to help keep your creative spark alive during the first few years that you find work in an entry-level web design position.

While every city will have its own vibrant arts community, a few cities that designers may want to consider when thinking about this include Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston. It will be productive for anyone interested in this element of a city to research the arts and culture scene that the city is most known for. A city like Boston will have a very different set of artistic communities than even a nearby city like New York City.

Amenities and Personal Preference

It is worth noting that you aren’t solely defined by your job, so when looking at cities, you shouldn't neglect looking for a job in a city you’d actually like to live in. While most cities are perfectly livable, things like local amenities, weather, density, and culture are important aspects for individuals to consider. For example, if you don’t want to deal with a huge amount of snow, Buffalo is probably right out. If you want to be near parks you can hike in, you may want to cross Dallas off your list. This is going to be a deeply personal decision, but it is important to ensure your long-term success.

Top Cities for Web Designers

Seattle, WA

Seattle is a hotspot for a number of different tech fields, including main campuses for Microsoft, Amazon, and Zillow. These large employers ensure that starting salaries for Web Designers hover around $59,000 a year, which is 15% higher than the national average. The diversity of major software companies in the area also ensures that there are more high-level jobs available than in many comparable cities. According to the BLS, the Seattle Metropolitan area (including Bellevue and Tacoma) has by far the highest concentration of web design jobs in the country, with 7.25 per thousand jobs in the industry (for reference, NYC-Neward, the second highest per capita employer has 0.89 per thousand employment).

Seattle was the birthplace of a number of major cultural movements, such as the Grunge wave, and it is home to one of the finest coffee cultures in the world. Apart from its historic landmarks, Seattle is also home to a number of world-renowned restaurants and businesses, including Pike’s Place Market, one of the largest outdoor markets in the country.

Atlanta, GA

Atlanta is among the smaller major cities that Web Designers may want to consider, but it is a fast-growing metropolitan area with a thriving tech and telecommunications sector. The Atlanta metropolitan area boasts an average web designer salary of $86,000 a year, and it is the 8th largest metropolitan area by total web designer employment. Atlanta is home to the headquarters for major consumer brands such as Coca-Cola and Home Depot, as well as major airlines like Delta and telecommunications companies like AT&T.

Atlanta is a city with a rich history and a vibrant artistic and cultural tradition. From historic landmarks and museums connected to the American Civil Rights movement to beautiful national parks in the nearby Georgia wilderness, Atlanta is a city that has something to offer to virtually anyone.

Boston, MA

Sometimes imagined as the Silicon Valley of the East Coast, Boston is a wonderful place to find work as a web designer. Designers in the city boast an average annual salary of $83,000, and the city has the 6th most Web Designer jobs in the country. Boston is home to major corporate headquarters for companies like General Electric, Gillette, and Liberty Mutual, as well as significant players in the healthcare and financial sectors.

One of the biggest reasons to live and work in Boston is that it is home to so many top-tier universities. This means that it is likely to be a groundswell for new projects and developments, particularly in the tech sector, coming out of places like Harvard, MIT, or Cambridge. Being near these massive public institutions, there is an increased opportunity for Web Designers to find work on new, exciting projects being built in Boston’s many, many colleges and universities.

Washington, DC.

The Washington DC-Arlington-Alexandria metropolitan area has, relative to its size and population, among the most web design job openings in the country. Most of these design jobs will be in the public sector, either working for a government agency or working for specific politicians or political campaigns. There will also be significantly more non-profit or lobbying design jobs available than in other areas of the country. The DC metropolitan area has the fifth most overall design jobs, and these jobs have an average annual salary of $87,000.

The DC area is home to some of the country’s most significant cultural landmarks and its largest collection of museums. In addition, since DC is located so close to Baltimore and Virginia, it doesn’t take long to visit those cities and their surrounding national parks. Located on the Potomac River and very close to the Chesapeake Bay, DC is a beautiful place to live if you want to live on the waterfront.

San Jose, CA

The San Jose-Santa Clara-Sunnyvale Metropolitan area is second only to Seattle in terms of median earning potential for Web Designers. With an average annual salary of $137,000, there are few better places in the country to work than San Jose. San Jose is home to tech giants like Cisco, Adobe, and Hewlett-Packard, among many others. If you are interested in being on the commercial software side of a web design career, San Jose may be the place for you.

San Jose is also one of the most beautiful cities in the country. Located at the southern end of the Bay Area, San Jose is a short trip to San Francisco and Oakland, as well as home to its own collection of museums and galleries. It is also a wonderful place to live for nature lovers, as it is near the majestic San Francisco Bay and is surrounded by wildlife and nature preserves.

Why Become a Web Designer?

There are a lot of reasons why becoming a Web Designer can be a good career choice. The most notable is that it is a job that combines a number of creative and technical skills, meaning that you will be consistently working on new and unique projects, and you will be able to leverage your personal skills into better job opportunities. In many firms, it will involve a combination of coding and design work, so you are less likely to fall into a rut, and you can eventually begin to specialize in certain aspects of the job in order to improve your long-term earning potential. The diverse job titles for web design work mean that you can constantly learn new skills and position yourself to find better employment opportunities in the future.

This versatility ties neatly into the other major reason to become a Web Designer. Every second, approximately three new webpages are created. Every company, start-up, organization, and institution understands the value of a strong web presence, so they are constantly looking for more talented Web Designers to help them build one. Web Designers of all stripes are in high demand, and the demand for these jobs is only looking to increase. By laying the groundwork to work in the field of web design, you will be entering into a diverse, in-demand career field that affords you plenty of opportunities to find the long-term job that is right for you.

How to Find a Web Designer Job

Designers looking for work will often find listings posted on job search webpages such as Indeed, LinkedIn, or Glassdoor. These aggregate webpages offer users a convenient search function that will find job listings in their area alongside lists of requirements and links to hiring portals. These job listing sites are a great way to find entry-level positions and find new work in a city you’ve relocated to. Prospective Web Designers may also be able to find job positions through regular networking connections and other professional associations. Finally, some Web Designers may start their careers as freelancers, letting them bypass the process of starting out with a job search.

After you’ve found job listings, you’ll want to spend some time working on your job materials. For Web Designers, these materials will include your resume, a series of cover letters, a collection of professional references, and a design portfolio. The most important of these materials will be your design portfolio since it will be the job material that allows prospective employers to see how you position yourself as a designer. However, in order to get your portfolio seen, you’ll need to have a well-crafted resume and a compelling cover letter that convinces hiring managers to give more attention to your application.

Learn the Skills to Become a Web Designer at Noble Desktop

Students looking to build the technical skills they need to become Web Designers may want to consider the options available to them for professional training and skills development through Noble Desktop. These classes provide students with live training from expert instructors and include hands-on training and practical experience using real-world design samples. These classes are available at Noble’s Manhattan Campus or through live online instruction. No matter the delivery method, class sizes are kept small so students won’t have to compete with one another for their instructor’s attention. As a bonus, every Noble course comes with a free retake option, meaning you can take the class again within a year. This is ideal for students who want to receive more instruction and for students who want more time to gain hands-on experience that they can parlay into better job opportunities.

Students interested in becoming professional Web Designers will need a lot of skills training. For novices, Noble offers a Web Design Certificate program that will teach students how to use common web design software applications, how to code their designs in basic HTML/CSS and JavaScript, and how to use WordPress for more advanced web page design. In addition, students enrolled in this class will receive one-on-one career mentoring assistance and professional development seminars, including portfolio-building exercises. This is an ideal course for any student who wants to start a new career in the field of web design. Noble also offers more targeted programs, such as the UX/UI Design Certificate program, which prepares students to design interactive interfaces for digital applications and products. This focused career-program de-emphasizes the importance of learning to code and emphasizes the importance of tactile user experience design.

Students who have a measure of professional training and are seeking to expand their skills may want to instead consider enrolling in one of Noble’s skills bootcamps. For example, in Noble’s Figma Bootcamp, students will learn how to use Adobe’s Figma software application to build interactive prototypes of web designs in order to test their functionality before beginning the coding process. This is an invaluable tool for any Web Designer to know how to use, and in a bootcamp, you can focus on learning individual skills to improve your own career standing.

Learn more in these courses

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