I worked in mahwah, nj... and made 31,000 per year..
I also worked in the city part time and was paid $20 per hr.
I am currently looking for a new job and should have no problem seeing $40,000. I've been out of college for 2 years.
you should just learn basic graphic design skills. the entire adobe creative suite and Quark.
If you want to do interactive too then you should learn flash and dreamweaver... I personally have no interest in web design so I don't really know dreamweaver.
yes... some companies pay a lot more than others. NYC is your best bet. Experience is the key and its not easy landing an entry level job either... since people that are not entry level will be applying to the same job as you. Employers in NYC generally stop receiving resumes 3 days after the job is posted due to the high volume of resumes that they receive.