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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.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Digital Designer
Top Careers After Digital Designer
Hispanic or Latino11.2%
Black or African American0.5%
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Savannah College of Art and Design10.7%
Parsons the New School for Design5.8%
University of Cincinnati5.8%
Art Institute of Pittsburgh5.8%
School of Visual Arts5.8%
Art Institutes International Minnesota4.9%
Arizona State University4.9%
Columbia College Chicago4.9%
Academy of Art University4.9%
Full Sail University4.9%
Fashion Institute of Technology4.9%
University of Texas at Austin4.9%
New York University3.9%
Ohio State University3.9%
Rochester Institute of Technology3.9%
University of Phoenix3.9%
Columbus College of Art and Design3.9%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Head of Digital Design||Dow Jones and Company||New York, NY||Jan 09, 2016||$180,000|
|Digital Designer||One & Company Design, Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Sep 01, 2013||$115,000|
|SR. Digital Modeler-Surface Design||Tesla Motors, Inc.||Hawthorne, CA||Sep 01, 2015||$115,000 -
|Digital Modeler-Surface Design||Tesla Motorsinc||Hawthorne, CA||May 04, 2015||$114,400|
|Digital Modeler-Surface Design||Tesla Motors, Inc.||Hawthorne, CA||Sep 16, 2014||$110,000 -
|Digital Modeler-Surface Design||Tesla Motors, Inc.||Hawthorne, CA||Oct 01, 2013||$110,000 -
|Digital Modeler-Surface Design||Tesla Motors, Inc.||Hawthorne, CA||Sep 16, 2014||$105,000 -
|Digital Modeler-Surface Design||Tesla Motors, Inc.||Hawthorne, CA||Sep 12, 2013||$100,000 -
|Digital Designer||Realreal Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Jan 16, 2015||$85,821|
|Digital Modeler-Surface Design||Tesla Motors, Inc.||Hawthorne, CA||Sep 01, 2015||$85,000 -
|Senior Digital Designer||Deutsch La, Inc.||Los Angeles, CA||Oct 22, 2015||$85,000 -
|SR. Digital Designer||24 Seven, Inc.||New York, NY||Nov 01, 2016||$83,000|
|SR. Digital Designer||24 Seven, Inc.||New York, NY||Jan 15, 2016||$83,000|
|Digital Designer||Criteo Corp||New York, NY||Oct 24, 2016||$80,995|
|Digital Designer||Atieva USA, Inc.||Menlo Park, CA||May 31, 2016||$80,142|
|Digital Designer||Everlane, Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Mar 17, 2014||$80,000 -
|SR. Digital Designer||Nissan North America, Inc.||San Diego, CA||Sep 09, 2013||$68,000 -
|Digital Designer||Creata (USA) Inc.||Oakbrook Terrace, IL||Dec 06, 2016||$65,000 -
|SR. Digital Designer||Bijora, Inc.||Chicago, IL||Jun 10, 2014||$65,000|
|Digital Designer||Mother Industries LLC||New York, NY||Sep 09, 2015||$65,000 -
|Digital Design Modeler||Duck Soup Studios||Los Angeles, CA||Oct 01, 2012||$62,610|
|Digital Design Modeler||Duck Soup Studios||Los Angeles, CA||Sep 20, 2012||$62,610|
|Digital Design Sculptor||Linkage Design||Warren, MI||Jan 05, 2016||$62,610|
|Digital Designer (Unlicesed Architect)||Shimahara, Inc.||Santa Monica, CA||Oct 01, 2013||$62,610|
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