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Become A Graphic Designer

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Working As A Graphic Designer

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

  • Repetitive

  • Stressful

  • $52,191

    Average Salary

What Does A Graphic Designer 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 Graphic Designer

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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Graphic Designer Jobs

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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Graphic Artist 4.3 years
Graphic Designer 3.0 years
Freelance Designer 2.6 years
Marketing Designer 2.5 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 9.2%
Designer 4.3%
Cashier 3.2%
Artist 2.3%
Top Employers After
Art Director 14.4%
Designer 4.1%
Owner 3.0%
Internship 2.7%

Do you work as a Graphic Designer?

Graphic Designer Demographics

Gender

Female

49.9%

Male

47.6%

Unknown

2.5%
Ethnicity

White

60.2%

Hispanic or Latino

16.3%

Black or African American

10.2%

Asian

9.5%

Unknown

3.8%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

48.1%

French

9.9%

Chinese

5.8%

Mandarin

4.9%

German

4.2%

Japanese

4.1%

Korean

3.4%

Russian

3.3%

Italian

2.7%

Portuguese

2.7%

Arabic

2.7%

Cantonese

2.1%

Hindi

1.2%

Vietnamese

1.0%

Polish

0.8%

Greek

0.8%

Hebrew

0.6%

Turkish

0.6%

Urdu

0.6%

Swedish

0.4%
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Graphic Designer Education

Schools

Savannah College of Art and Design

15.6%

Art Institute of Pittsburgh

9.5%

Full Sail University

7.5%

Fashion Institute of Technology

6.5%

Rochester Institute of Technology

5.9%

Academy of Art University

5.3%

School of Visual Arts

5.0%

Virginia Commonwealth University

4.8%

Columbia College Chicago

4.7%

University of Phoenix

4.2%

Iowa State University

3.7%

Art Institute of California - Inland

3.4%

Pratt Institute-Main

3.4%

Art Institute of Atlanta

3.3%

International Academy of Design and Technology

3.1%

Syracuse University

3.0%

Michigan State University

3.0%

Liberty University

2.8%

Florida State University

2.8%

Rhode Island School of Design

2.7%
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Majors

Graphic Design

53.2%

Fine Arts

8.1%

Design And Visual Communication

6.6%

Computer Applications

4.0%

Communication

3.8%

Business

3.4%

Graphic Communications

2.6%

Marketing

2.3%

Photography

2.1%

Computer Science

1.9%

Animation

1.7%

Visual And Performing Arts

1.6%

Advertising

1.5%

Computer Information Systems

1.2%

Journalism

1.2%

Digital Media

1.2%

English

1.0%

Education

0.9%

Public Relations

0.9%

Entertainment Business

0.9%
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Degrees

Bachelors

55.9%

Other

16.4%

Associate

14.0%

Masters

8.1%

Certificate

4.3%

Diploma

1.0%

Doctorate

0.2%

License

0.1%
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Temporary

Real Graphic Designer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Graphic Designer Bazmark INQ LLC New York, NY Apr 07, 2016 $142,500
Graphic Designer Zaah Holdings, Inc. New York, NY Oct 13, 2016 $142,126
Graphics Designer Apple Inc. Cupertino, CA Dec 29, 2016 $141,000 -
$151,300
Graphic Designer Apple Inc. Cupertino, CA Jan 02, 2016 $140,000 -
$160,000
Graphic Designer Moxtra, Inc. Cupertino, CA Jan 09, 2016 $140,000 -
$160,000
Graphic Designer Paypal, Inc. San Jose, CA Dec 27, 2016 $130,000
Graphic Designer McKinsey & Company, Inc. United States New York, NY Aug 15, 2015 $126,138
Graphic Designer Twitter, Inc. San Francisco, CA Jun 15, 2016 $125,000
Creative/Graphics Designer Net Esolutions Corporation McLean, VA Jan 10, 2016 $125,000
Graphic Designer (User Interface Designer) Twitter, Inc. San Francisco, CA Jul 27, 2015 $125,000
Graphic Designer Comrade Inc. Oakland, CA Feb 09, 2016 $120,000
Graphic Designer Meta Company Redwood City, CA Sep 13, 2016 $120,000
Graphic Designer Grabber Inc. El Dorado Hills, CA Jan 12, 2015 $54,155
Graphic Designer Homelegance, Inc. Fremont, CA Dec 18, 2015 $54,142
Graphic Designer Mighty Fine Los Angeles, CA Sep 22, 2016 $54,080
Graphic Designer Compuga Inc. San Ramon, CA May 07, 2015 $54,000
3D Graphic Designer NWAY America LLC San Francisco, CA Aug 15, 2015 $54,000
Graphic Designer Trustees of Boston University Boston, MA Jul 18, 2016 $54,000
Graphic Designer Electric Funstuff, Inc. New York, NY Sep 21, 2015 $54,000
Graphic Designer Gary Null & Associates, Inc. New York, NY May 18, 2015 $41,600
Graphic Designer YS and Partners, Inc. Newport Beach, CA Aug 09, 2016 $41,600
Interactive Graphic Designer YS and Partners, Inc. Newport Beach, CA Aug 09, 2016 $41,600
Graphic Designer Torn By Ronny KOBO, Inc. New York, NY May 01, 2015 $41,600
Graphic Designer MSI Computer Corp. Industry, CA Jul 01, 2015 $41,600
Interactive/Graphic Designer YS and Partners, Inc. Newport Beach, CA Dec 09, 2016 $41,600

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Top Skills for A Graphic Designer

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  1. Adobe Photoshop
  2. Company Website
  3. Company Logos
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Created and designed enclosure of incense box enclosure using Adobe PhotoShop, and CorelDRAW.
  • Developed all product marketing collateral using Adobe CS & digital photography including Company Website maintenance
  • Have been solely responsible for two film production company logos and corresponding business cards and paraphernalia.
  • Interested in pursuing in the field of graphic design, production design, web design and advertising design.
  • Designed Associated Student Senate political brochures to keep students informed.

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