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Become A Design Director

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Working As A Design Director

  • Thinking Creatively
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • Stressful

  • $95,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Design Director Do

Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for various applications such as for advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports.

Duties

Graphic designers typically do the following: 

  • Meet with clients or the art director to determine the scope of a project
  • Use digital illustration, photo-editing software, and layout software to create designs
  • Create visual elements such as logos, original images, and illustrations that help deliver a desired message
  • Design layouts and select colors, images, and typefaces to use
  • Present design concepts to clients or art directors
  • Incorporate changes recommended by clients or art directors into final designs
  • Review designs for errors before printing or publishing them

Graphic designers combine art and technology to communicate ideas through images and the layout of websites and printed pages. They may use a variety of design elements to achieve artistic or decorative effects.

Graphic designers work with both text and images. They often select the type, font, size, color, and line length of headlines, headings, and text. Graphic designers also decide how images and text will go together on a print or webpage, including how much space each will have. When using text in layouts, graphic designers collaborate closely with writers who choose the words and decide whether the words will be put into paragraphs, lists, or tables. Through the use of images, text, and color, graphic designers can transform statistical data into visual graphics and diagrams, which can make complex ideas more accessible.

Graphic design is important to marketing and selling products, and is a critical component of brochures and logos. Therefore, graphic designers, also referred to as graphic artists or communication designers, often work closely with people in advertising and promotions, public relations, and marketing.

Frequently, designers specialize in a particular category or type of client. For example, some create the graphics used on retail products packaging, still others may work on the visual designs used on book jackets.

Graphic designers need to keep up to date with the latest software and computer technologies to remain competitive.

Some individuals with a background in graphic design teach in design schools, colleges, and universities. For more information, see the profile on postsecondary teachers.

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How To Become A Design Director

Graphic designers usually need a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field. Candidates for graphic design positions should demonstrate their creativity and originality through a professional portfolio that features their best designs.

Education

A bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field is usually required. However, those with a bachelor’s degree in another field may pursue technical training in graphic design to meet most hiring qualifications.

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits about 320 postsecondary colleges, universities, and independent institutes with programs in art and design. Most schools include studio art, principles of design, computerized design, commercial graphics production, printing techniques, and website design. In addition, students should consider courses in writing, marketing, and business, all of which are useful in helping designers work effectively on project teams.

High school students interested in graphic design should take basic art and design courses in high school, if the courses are available. Many bachelor's degree programs require students to complete a year of basic art and design courses before being admitted to a formal degree program. Some schools require applicants to submit sketches and other examples of their artistic ability.

Many programs provide students with the opportunity to build a professional portfolio of their designs. For many artists, including graphic designers, developing a portfolio—a collection of design ideas that demonstrates their styles and abilities—is essential because employers rely heavily on a designer’s portfolio in deciding whether to hire the individual.

Graphic designers must keep up with new and updated computer graphics and design software, either on their own or through formal software training programs. Professional associations that specialize in graphic design, such as AIGA, offer courses intended to keep the skills of their members up to date.

Other Experience

Graphic designers often gain their initial experience through internships. It provides aspiring graphic designers an opportunity to work with designers and experience the design process from concept to completion while completing a design program.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certification programs are generally available through software product vendors. Certification in graphic design software can demonstrate a level of competence and may provide a jobseeker with a competitive advantage.

Advancement

Experienced graphic designers may advance to chief designer, art director, or other supervisory positions.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Graphic designers must be able to look at their work from the point of view of their consumers and examine how the designs they develop will be perceived by consumers to ensure they convey the client’s desired message.

Artistic ability. Graphic designers must be able to create designs that are artistically interesting and appealing to clients and consumers. They produce rough illustrations of design ideas, either by hand sketching or by using computer programs.

Communication skills. Graphic designers must communicate with clients, customers, and other designers to ensure that their designs accurately reflect the desired message and effectively express information.

Computer skills. Most graphic designers use specialized graphic design software to prepare their designs.

Creativity. Graphic designers must be able to think of new approaches to communicating ideas to consumers. They develop unique designs that convey a recognizable meaning on behalf of their clients.

Time-management skills. Graphic designers often work on multiple projects at the same time, each with a different deadline.

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Design Director Demographics

Gender

Male

53.5%

Female

36.5%

Unknown

10.1%
Ethnicity

White

59.3%

Hispanic or Latino

16.2%

Black or African American

10.6%

Asian

9.8%

Unknown

4.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

36.1%

French

14.8%

Italian

13.0%

German

6.1%

Mandarin

5.2%

Chinese

5.2%

Korean

4.3%

Cantonese

2.6%

Portuguese

2.6%

Japanese

2.6%

Russian

2.2%

Dutch

0.9%

Venetian

0.9%

Arabic

0.9%

Swedish

0.4%

Vietnamese

0.4%

Indonesian

0.4%

Hawaiian

0.4%

Lithuanian

0.4%

Tahitian

0.4%
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Design Director Education

Schools

Fashion Institute of Technology

25.8%

Parsons the New School for Design

8.2%

School of Visual Arts

7.0%

Pratt Institute-Main

5.5%

Art Center College of Design

5.4%

Syracuse University

5.3%

Savannah College of Art and Design

5.2%

Rhode Island School of Design

4.7%

Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising

3.6%

University of Cincinnati

3.5%

Rochester Institute of Technology

3.2%

Academy of Art University

2.9%

New York University

2.7%

University of California - Los Angeles

2.7%

University of Florida

2.5%

University of Texas at Austin

2.5%

Iowa State University

2.4%

Ohio State University

2.3%

Purdue University

2.3%

University of the Arts

2.2%
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Majors

Graphic Design

40.6%

Fine Arts

10.5%

Business

7.3%

Interior Design

6.3%

Architecture

5.6%

Design And Visual Communication

4.6%

Apparel And Textiles

2.9%

Communication

2.7%

Marketing

2.3%

Computer Science

2.1%

Photography

2.0%

Management

1.8%

Specialized Sales And Merchandising

1.7%

Computer Applications

1.6%

Electrical Engineering

1.6%

Education

1.6%

Drafting And Design

1.4%

Theatre

1.2%

English

1.2%

Journalism

1.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

53.2%

Masters

17.1%

Other

16.3%

Associate

8.0%

Certificate

2.9%

Doctorate

1.9%

Diploma

0.6%

License

0.1%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$95,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$50,000
Min 10%
$95,000
Median 50%
$95,000
Median 50%
$95,000
Median 50%
$95,000
Median 50%
$95,000
Median 50%
$95,000
Median 50%
$95,000
Median 50%
$181,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Under Armour
Highest Paying City
San Ramon, CA
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
4.3 years
How much does a Design Director make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Design Director in the United States is $95,567 per year or $46 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $50,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $181,000.

Real Design Director Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Product Design Director Facebook, Inc. Menlo Park, CA Jul 15, 2016 $250,000
Product Design Director Facebook, Inc. Menlo Park, CA Sep 12, 2015 $250,000
Product Design Director Facebook, Inc. Menlo Park, CA Sep 10, 2015 $250,000
Design Director Converse, Inc. New York, NY Jan 04, 2016 $246,330
Design Director-Men's Footwear Cole Haan LLC Greenland, NH Aug 20, 2016 $240,000
Senior Design Director Lands' End, Inc. Dodgeville, WI Apr 27, 2016 $225,000
UI Design Lead (Internal Title: Director of Design) Yahoo! Inc. New York, NY Oct 25, 2016 $225,000 -
$245,000
Director, UI Design Twitter, Inc. San Francisco, CA Jan 12, 2015 $220,000
Director of Engineering, Physical Design Group Arm, Inc. Austin, TX Jan 10, 2015 $213,000
Director of Engineering, Physical Design Group Arm, Inc. Austin, TX Mar 16, 2015 $213,000
User Experience Design Director AKQA, Inc. New York, NY Apr 20, 2016 $200,928
Director of Technical Design, Appearel Innovation Tory Burch New York, NY Nov 03, 2016 $200,000
Design Director-Ready To Wear Kate Spade LLC New York, NY Dec 30, 2016 $200,000
Director of Design, Men's Bottoms Levi Strauss & Co. San Francisco, CA Aug 22, 2016 $198,450
Director of Visual Design Fantasy Interactive Inc. San Francisco, CA Sep 16, 2016 $160,000
Director, Design Services Innominds Software Inc. San Jose, CA Mar 17, 2015 $160,000
Design Director for Knitwear NIC & Zoe Company Natick, MA May 07, 2015 $160,000
Experience Design Director Havas Worldwide New York Inc. New York, NY Jan 21, 2015 $159,245
CD Design DIR Apple Inc. Cupertino, CA Jan 21, 2016 $158,600 -
$253,800
CD Design DIR Apple Inc. Cupertino, CA Jan 21, 2015 $155,500 -
$248,800
Director, Design and Delivery Marriott Ownership Resorts, Inc. Orlando, FL May 25, 2015 $155,000
Director of California Design Center Aavid Thermalloy, LLC San Jose, CA Sep 05, 2015 $123,053 -
$125,000
Ux/Visual Design Director We Heart It, Inc. San Francisco, CA Aug 11, 2015 $120,399
Design Director VF Outdoor, Inc. Alameda, CA Feb 16, 2015 $120,000
Design Director Assembled Brands Partner Services LLC New York, NY Nov 30, 2015 $120,000 -
$160,000
Design Director Toca Boca New York, NY Dec 10, 2015 $120,000
Design Director Meyer Davis Studio Inc. New York, NY Jun 22, 2015 $120,000
Design Director Quovo, Inc. New York, NY Mar 09, 2016 $120,000
Director, Design Services-Americas Hyatt Corporation Chicago, IL Jan 03, 2016 $120,000

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Top Skills for A Design Director

  1. Graphic Design
  2. New Product Development
  3. Art Direction
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Managed graphic designers and freelancers.
  • Brainstormed regularly with Marketing on new product development.
  • Executed art direction presentations at milestone meetings to merchandising, suppliers and GP to communicate application to classification of business.
  • Increased market share through presentations to partners, interior design firms, and architectural firms.
  • Created structural layouts/specifications for production operations using ArtiosCAD software.

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Top 10 Best States for Design Directors

  1. Washington
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Illinois
  4. California
  5. New York
  6. Georgia
  7. Oregon
  8. Ohio
  9. New Mexico
  10. Utah
  • (102 jobs)
  • (116 jobs)
  • (137 jobs)
  • (627 jobs)
  • (353 jobs)
  • (158 jobs)
  • (50 jobs)
  • (35 jobs)
  • (7 jobs)
  • (18 jobs)

Top Design Director Employers

Jobs From Top Design Director Employers

Design Director Videos

Extra Credits - So You Want To Be a Game Designer - Career Advice for Making Games

Ferrari Design Director Flavio Manzoni on LaFerrari Design

Career Advice - Interior Design

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