The National Survey Of Graphic Design Salaries and Billing Practices 2006, “conducted” by the Registry of Graphic Designers Ontario and “sponsored” by the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, has a few interesting facts about salaries in Canada for Web “designers” and “producers.” It seems to exist as a printed manual only at this point.

Some of its findings related to Web development:

Freelance billing rates

Under the headline “Solo-designer-firm billing rates,” we learn that “Web designers” with less than five years’ experience bill $70/$25 an hour (high/low figures used throughout), while those with five to 15 years’ experience bill $150/$30, a difference of quintuple the lower rate.

The section “16 years’ [experience] or more” is pointless and redundant in Web development of any sort because the Web is not 16 years old. The question should not have been asked and I’m not reporting the results.

For “Web programming”:

  • Less than five years’ experience: $100/$20
  • Five to 15 years’ experience: $150/$35

Both are enormous ranges – ridiculous, really. Again, I’m not reporting their ≥16-year figures.

Billing rates for firms

“Billing rates at design firms with two or more employees are much higher.”

  • Web developer (no years-of-experience figure given): $190/$40 per hour
  • Web producer/manager: $150/$45

Note that suddenly they’re talking about “Web producers/managers” and not “Web programmers.” I suspect there is a degree to which the surveyers did not know what they’re talking about. The term “Web programmer” is not defined in the glossary, either.

If you look at the numbers, it barely pays to be a Web producer/manager compared to a developer. In fact, you lose money on the high end. Ignorance appears to pay. Perhaps this is why Canadians are mediocre.

Project fees

For “Web-site design of 25 to 50 pages for a client with revenues under $2 million,” billable fees ranged from:

  • Less than $2,500 (4%)
  • $2,500–$4,999 (16%)
  • $5,000–$9,999 (33% – note the magic $10,000 mental threshold)
  • $10,000–$14,999 (23%)
  • $15,000 or more (24%)

I read this as follows: Most of the time, you’re cheating yourself by billing less than $5,000. A plurality of the time, you shouldn’t even be talking to them for less than $10,000, and you have a pretty reasonable chance quoting at over $15K.

Median salaries

Web developers found their median salaries increasing from $44,000 to $45,000 to $51,000 (2000, 2002, 2004 figures).

They break out other figures for regions and cities. Looking solely at Toronto, Web developers’ salaries range from $32,000 to $67,000. Web producers/managers earn $49,000 to $82,000. This scarcely seems consistent with the hourly billing rates for the different jobs, but that could be due to national averaging of those billing rates.

Gender split

For Web developers, 12 respondents were male (low/high salaries: $32,000/$80,000), seven female ($29,500 to $55,500). Men earn more than women in this survey, and outnumber them, too.

For Web producers/managers, eight male respondents earned $32,000/$73,000, while seven female respondents earned $43,000/$82,000. Number of respondents was roughly equal and women outearned men. Take careful note of that fact.


I should be earning $82,000 a year just from Web producing and managing. What’s the holdup?

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2005.10.28 13:55. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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