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How much can you expect to earn as a designer in Sweden?

Wondering about a career as a designer in Sweden, or are you already working in the area and want to know how your salary matches up to the average? We've broken down the numbers to look at what you could expect to earn as a designer, both before and after tax, depending on your situation.

How much can you expect to earn as a designer in Sweden?
Knowing the average salaries for your sector can help inform your job-hunt and pay negotiations. Photo: Lena Granefelt/imagebank.sweden.se

The field of design covers a range of industries and companies, and many factors affect your compensation, such as your experience and level of responsibility. But it's always helpful to have an overall picture of the salary levels in your industry. 

Graphic designers earn an average of 35,200 kronor ($3,700) before tax each month, according to the latest national statistics. For comparison, the average salary in Sweden across all sectors was 34,600 kronor before tax in 2018, and the figure for 2019 is not yet available.

Women, on average, earned 34,200 per month as graphic designers while for men the figure was 35,800 kronor. The age group earning the most as graphic designers was the 45-55-year category, with an average monthly salary of 38,100 kronor. That compared to 32,300 kronor per month for those aged 25-34, 35,500 kronor for those aged 35-44, and 34,800 for those aged 55-64. 

Within the field of graphic design, workers with post-secondary education of under three years earned the most, 37,700 kronor per month on average. That was more than the average for those with upper secondary education of two years or less (32,100 kronor), upper secondary education of three years (34,500 kronor) and post-secondary education of more than three years (34,400 kronor).

For designers in the field of gaming and digital media, the overall average salary is 36,200 kronor per month before tax. There is a slight gender imbalance, so women earn 36,100 kronor on average while for men it's 36,300 kronor.

Salaries also differed depending on age, with the age group 35-44 bringing home the most each month at 39,100 kronor. That compared to 34,300 kronor for the age group 25-34, while average salary ranges for other individual age groups were not available at Statistics Sweden. 

And what about fashion? The average monthly pay for a fashion designer (and related professionals) was 40,500 kronor, although women received an average of only 38,000 kronor compared to 45,500 kronor for men.

For interior designers, a category that also included interior decorators and scenographers, average monthly pay was 31,900 kronor. And industrial product designers earned an average of 45,700 kronor per month.

As for how much of this salary you would actually take home, we looked into the numbers using Swedish tax office Skatteverket's calculator.

Your tax rate depends on a few factors, including where you live, so first we looked at the figures for a 35-year-old living in Stockholm. To calculate the rates, we also assumed that most of our readers who grew up outside of Sweden will not be paying members of the Swedish Church, so would not pay towards Sweden's church tax.

Other factors may play a role in your tax bill, so these calculations can be used as a guide but may not be exact.

Based on this, a 35-year-old graphic designer earning 35,200 kronor a month would take home 27,178 kronor after tax in 2020. For a gaming designer earning 36,200 kronor, the take-home sum would be 27,878 kronor, while an interior designer earning the average salary of 31,900 kronor a month in Stockholm could expect a net paycheck of 24,838 kronor per month in 2020.

For geographic comparison, in Malmö those average monthly take-home pay figures would be 26,397 kronor for the graphic designer, 27,067 kronor for the gaming designer, and 24,153 kronor for the interior designer. And in Umeå they would be 26,137 kronor, 26,797 kronor, and 23,925 kronor respectively. Again, these figures are approximate and based on the average monthly salary across all genders.

We used Statistics Sweden and Skatteverket as sources for this article. Did you find it useful? Please email [email protected] to let us know what you think or what industry you want us to look at next.

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WORKING IN SWEDEN

CHECKLIST: Here’s what you need to do if you move away from Sweden

What authorities do you need to inform before you leave, are you liable to Swedish tax and how can you access your Swedish pension? Here's a checklist.

CHECKLIST: Here's what you need to do if you move away from Sweden

Tell the relevant authorities if you’re leaving for more than a year

If you’re planning on leaving Sweden for more than a year, you will have to let the authorities know. The main authorities in question are Skatteverket (the Tax Agency) and Försäkringskassan (the Social Insurance Agency).

Försäkringskassan

You have to tell Försäkringskassan when you leave so they can assess whether or not you still qualify for Swedish social insurance. As a general rule, you aren’t eligible for Swedish social insurance if you move away from Sweden, but there are exceptions, such as maternity or paternity benefits if you’re moving to another EU country.

This also applies to any family members who move with you – any over-18’s should send in their own documentation to Försäkingskassan about their move abroad. If you’re moving abroad with anyone under 18, you can include them in your own report to Försäkringskassan.

If both legal guardians are moving abroad together, both need to include any children in their application. If one legal guardian is moving abroad and the other is staying in Sweden, you need the guardian staying in Sweden to co-sign your application. If you are the sole legal guardian of any under-18’s travelling with you, you don’t need any documentation from the other parent.

You can register a move abroad with Försäkringskassan on the Mina sidor service on their website, here (log in with BankID).

Skatteverket

If you are moving abroad for a year or longer, you also need to tell the Tax Agency. This also applies if you were planning on moving abroad for less than a year but ended up staying for longer.

If you move to another Nordic country, you will also need to register your move with that country’s authorities if you will be there for six months or more. You’ll be deregistered from the Swedish population register the same day you become registered in another Nordic country’s register.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll lose your personnummer – you’ll still be able to use it if you ever move back to Sweden – but you will no longer be registered as resident in Sweden.

Similarly to Försäkringskassan, you will also need to report any children you are bringing with you, and both legal guardians must sign the form, whether or not both guardians are moving abroad or not.

In some cases, you may still be liable to pay tax in Sweden even if you live abroad – particularly if you are a Swedish citizen or have lived in Sweden for at least ten years. This could be due to owning or renting out property in Sweden, having family in Sweden, or owning a business in Sweden.

You can tell the tax agency of your plans to move abroad here.

Contact your a-kassa, if relevant

If you are member of a Swedish a-kassa (unemployment insurance), make sure you tell them that you’re leaving the country. As a general rule, you have unemployment insurance in the country you work in, so you will most likely have to cancel your a-kassa subscription.

If you are moving to another country with the a-kassa system, such as Denmark or Finland, it may pay to wait until you have joined a new a-kassa in that country before you cancel your membership in Sweden.

This is due to the fact, in some countries, you only qualify for benefits once you fulfil a membership and employment requirement. In Sweden and Denmark, you must have been a member for 12 months before you qualify. In Finland, the membership requirement is 26 weeks.

If you qualify for a-kassa in Sweden before you leave the country, you may be able to transfer your a-kassa membership period over to your new a-kassa abroad and qualify there straight away, but this usually only applies if your period of a-kassa membership is unbroken.

Check what applies in your new country before you cancel your membership in Sweden – your a-kassa should be able to help you with this.

Contact your union, if relevant

Similarly, if you are a member of a Swedish union or fackförbund, let them know you’re moving abroad.

If you’re moving to another Nordic country, they might be able to point you in the direction of the relevant union in that country, if you want to remain a member of a union in your new country.

If you’re moving to another EU country, you may be able to remain a member of your Swedish union as a foreign worker with the status utlandsvistelse.

If you chose to do this, you will usually pay a lower monthly fee than you do in Sweden, and they can still provide assistance with work related issues – although it may make more sense to join a local union in your field with more knowledge of the labout market.

If you don’t want to be a member of a union in your new country and don’t want to be a member of a Swedish union, you should contact your  union and ask them to cancel your membership.

Collect relevant documents regarding your Swedish pension

If you have worked in Sweden and paid tax for any length of time, you will have paid in to a Swedish pension. You retain this pension wherever you move, but you must apply for it yourself.

To do so, you will need to give details of when you lived and worked in Sweden, as well as providing copies of work contracts, if you have them. If you have these documents before you leave Sweden, make copies so that you can provide them when asked.

If you move to the EU/EES or Switzerland, you may also have the right to other, non-work based pensions, such as guarantee pension for low- or no-income earners, or the income pension complement (inkomstpensionstillägg).

Currently, you can receive your Swedish pension once you turn 62 – although there is a proposal in parliament due to raise pension age to 63 for those born after 1961 from 2023, so this may change.

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