What is a Graphic Designer

Graphic Designers are responsible for creating visual concepts either through a computer software or by hand. The goal of becoming a graphic designer is to really engage consumers through inspiration. So being creative is kind of needed.

Typically Graphic Designers need a Bachelor's degree, but perhaps the most important thing you can bring to an interview is having a well-rounded portfolio.

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.

Learn more about what a Graphic Designer does

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.

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the right jobs to get there.

Average Salary
$45,772
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
3%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
37,593
Job Openings
resume document icon

Don't Have A Professional Resume?

0 selections

Graphic Designer Career Paths

Top Careers Before Graphic Designer

Graphic Designer Jobs You Might Like

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Create The Perfect Resume

Our resume builder tool will walk you through the process of creating a stand-out Graphic Designer resume.

resume icon

Average Salary for a Graphic Designer

Graphic Designers in America make an average salary of $45,772 per year or $22 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $63,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $33,000 per year.
Average Salary
$45,772
Find Your Salary Estimate
How much should you be earning as an Graphic Designer? Use Zippia's Salary Calculator to get an estimation of how much you should be earning.
See More Salary Information

Calculate your salary

Use Zippia's Salary Calculator to see how your pay matches up.

Graphic Designer Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Graphic Designer. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Graphic Designer Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Graphic Designer resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Graphic Designer Resume Examples And Templates

Graphic Designer Demographics

Graphic Designer Gender Statistics

female

48.0 %

male

47.6 %

unknown

4.4 %

Graphic Designer Ethnicity Statistics

White

75.0 %

Hispanic or Latino

10.3 %

Asian

8.3 %

Graphic Designer Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics

Spanish

49.7 %

French

9.6 %

Chinese

5.8 %
Job Openings

Find the best Graphic Designer job for you

0 selections
0 selections
Show More Graphic Designer Demographics

Create The Perfect Resume

Our resume builder tool will walk you through the process of creating a stand-out Graphic Designer resume.

resume icon

Graphic Designer Education

Graphic Designer Majors

Graphic Designer Degrees

Bachelors

68.0 %

Associate

22.6 %

Masters

3.4 %

Top Colleges for Graphic Designers

1. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

2. Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,465
Enrollment
6,483

3. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

4. Northeastern University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,522
Enrollment
13,760

5. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

6. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,948
Enrollment
17,238

7. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

8. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

9. George Washington University, The

Washington, DC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,230
Enrollment
12,161

10. Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$18,454
Enrollment
40,108
Show More Graphic Designer Education Requirements
Job Openings

Find the best Graphic Designer job for you

0 selections
0 selections

Online Courses For Graphic Designer That You May Like

Graphic Design Mastery: The FULL Branding & Design Process
udemy
4.5
(699)

Follows the FULL Graphic Design Process for A Company: Logo, Ad, Social Media, T-Shirt, Package, Website Design & More!...

Graphic Design MasterClass- Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign
udemy
4.5
(3,142)

Graphic design for beginners including Graphic Design Theories, Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, CC & Creative Thinking...

Graphic Design Masterclass - Learn GREAT Design
udemy
4.7
(31,640)

The Ultimate Graphic Design Course Which Covers Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Design Theory, Branding and Logo Design...

Show More Graphic Designer Courses
Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Graphic Designer

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 11.8% of graphic designers listed adobe creative suite on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and artistic ability are important as well.

12 Graphic Designer RESUME EXAMPLES

Best States For a Graphic Designer

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a graphic designer. The best states for people in this position are Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts, and California. Graphic designers make the most in Washington with an average salary of $58,866. Whereas in Oregon and Massachusetts, they would average $56,669 and $53,404, respectively. While graphic designers would only make an average of $52,264 in California, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Washington

Total Graphic Designer Jobs:
930
Highest 10% Earn:
$93,000
Location Quotient:
1.78
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Oregon

Total Graphic Designer Jobs:
490
Highest 10% Earn:
$91,000
Location Quotient:
1.65
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Massachusetts

Total Graphic Designer Jobs:
775
Highest 10% Earn:
$84,000
Location Quotient:
1.18
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Graphic Designers

How Do Graphic Designer Rate Their Jobs?

Working as a Graphic Designer? Share your experience anonymously.
Do you work as a Graphic Designer?
Rate how you like work as Graphic Designer. It's anonymous and will only take a minute.

Top Graphic Designer Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ graphic designers and discovered their number of graphic designer opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Minuteman Press was the best, especially with an average salary of $63,851. Creative Group follows up with an average salary of $53,986, and then comes Robert Half International with an average of $47,269. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a graphic designer. The employers include Medidata Solutions, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and Robert Half International

Graphic Designer Videos

Graphic Designer FAQs

Can I learn graphic design on my own?

Yes, you can learn graphic design on your own. There are many ways to learn graphic design without formal training or education.

While you don't need a formal education to become a graphic designer, you need to have a solid understanding of the fundamentals. This means learning the principles of graphic design and effectively using elements like color, contrast, hierarchy, balance, and proportion in your work.

There is a lot of free graphic design information found online that is useful to start building this knowledge base. It will help to determine what graphic design niche you are interested in learning before you get started. This will help you focus on finding resources that cater to this niche.

On top of learning from educational information online, it will be important to develop your eye for visual design. This skill is not hard to learn on your own; you simply have to take time to look at design elements -- both online and offline -- every day and evaluate what is successful and what is not.

Learn more about this question

Do graphic designers get paid well?

Yes, graphic designers get paid well. The average graphic designer makes $50,000 in the United States. Meanwhile, highly skilled and experienced graphic designers can average $80,000 while graphic designers just starting average $30,000.

Making art for a living is an attractive career path for many people, but it's important to consider practical expectations for your future finances. This is not always straightforward to navigate.

This is because skill set, experience, and level of responsibility all play a big role in graphic designer salaries. Experienced graphic designers will find their salaries to be significantly more than those just starting in the role.

Additionally, salaries can vary significantly depending on your area of design too. This is especially true if you are a user experience designer or art director who earns an average of $80,000 and $100,000, respectively.

Learn more about this question

How do I start my graphic design career?

To start a career in graphic design, begin either by learning graphic design principles themselves or by enrolling in a graphic design course. The most important thing to do to become a graphic designer is to gain a solid understanding of graphic design principles.

This can either be self-taught through exploring online resources or by enrolling in a graphic design course. A graphic design course teaches the fundamentals of design and helps build your skills through working on projects. Graphic design courses help a person grow their network, which is invaluable in the industry.

From this point, it will be critical to develop a portfolio of graphic design work. A strong portfolio is essential for any graphic designer to demonstrate their skills and abilities within the field. The portfolio can include projects completed for a course, as well as personal or work projects.

Learn more about this question

Is graphic design a dying career?

No, graphic design is not a dying career. However, it is a rapidly changing industry that will require significant upskilling to keep up with the changes.

The biggest area of growth in graphic design is in digital graphic design. As businesses transition from print advertising and publishing to digital and online marketing, this will increase.

There is also a significant increase in demand for social graphic assets for visual sharing platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. This opens up a lot of opportunities for freelance graphic design. Not just established businesses, everyone is looking for professional graphic design elements for stories, posts, business pages, etc.

Additionally, the advent of virtual reality and UI/UX has caused significant growth in graphic design. This specialized field will continue to grow as we rely more and more on technology in everyday scenarios.

Learn more about this question

Is it hard to become a graphic designer?

No, it is not hard to become a graphic designer. It is not hard to become a graphic designer, but it does take a lot of hard work, enthusiasm, and an eye for design.

Most companies are looking for graphic designers with real-world experience and a strong portfolio. There are several ways you can gain this experience and develop your portfolio. While relevant work experience is preferable for many employers, personal projects, volunteer projects, and internships can all showcase your skills.

It can be helpful to have a bachelor's degree in graphic design, which can also help you build your portfolio and experience with projects you complete. Additionally, working as a freelancer can be a great initial experience for a graphic designer trying to build a portfolio.

Learn more about this question

What qualifications do you need to be a graphic designer?

The base qualification for a graphic designer is advanced skills in common graphic design software. While the best jobs typically require a bachelor's degree in graphic design, secondary to a strong portfolio and advanced graphic design software skills.

There are a variety of tools that graphic designers use. They commonly work with Adobe Creative Suite, which is a standard requirement for most graphic design jobs. Having advanced knowledge and skill using PhotoShop, Illustrator, and InDesign is a fundamental qualification for graphic design roles.

However, there is no substitute for experience in the graphic design field. The most qualified candidates can produce many high-quality examples of their work from myriad individual projects and jobs. Most large companies won't hire a graphic designer who has not been in the field for a minimum of three years.

Learn more about this question