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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 Head Designer
Top Careers After Head Designer
Hispanic or Latino11.8%
Black or African American0.8%
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Fashion Institute of Technology38.5%
Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising6.6%
Parsons the New School for Design6.1%
Savannah College of Art and Design5.6%
Otis College of Art and Design3.8%
Rochester Institute of Technology3.3%
Montclair State University3.3%
Virginia Commonwealth University2.8%
New York University2.3%
University of California - Berkeley2.3%
University of California - Irvine2.3%
Pennsylvania State University2.3%
Kent State University2.3%
Carnegie Mellon University2.3%
University of Texas at Austin2.3%
University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth2.3%
Brigham Young University1.9%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Head of Design, Men's and Women's Shoes||Belstaff USA Corp.||New York, NY||Jan 04, 2012||$250,000|
|Head of Service Design||Co Collective LLC||New York, NY||Apr 28, 2016||$200,000|
|Head Designer||RVC Enterprises LLC||New York, NY||Oct 05, 2009||$200,000|
|Head of Design||Airbnb, Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Aug 29, 2014||$175,000 -
|Head of Design||Anomaly Partners LLC||New York, NY||Sep 26, 2016||$170,000|
|Head Designer||A Fine Gauge Inc.||New York, NY||Oct 13, 2011||$165,000|
|Head of Design||Augmedix||San Francisco, CA||May 27, 2016||$161,824|
|Head of Design||Augmedix, Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Jun 24, 2016||$160,000|
|Head of Design||Augmedix, Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Sep 09, 2016||$160,000|
|Head of Brand and Communications Design, Behance||Adobe Systems Incorporated||New York, NY||Sep 09, 2015||$155,000|
|Head of Design||Augmedix, Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Apr 25, 2015||$150,000|
|Head Designer||Bazmark INQ LLC||New York, NY||Aug 11, 2014||$150,000|
|Head of The Atelier-Designer||Marchesa Holdings LLC||New York, NY||Sep 19, 2014||$140,000|
|Head of Design||Tripactions, Inc.||Menlo Park, CA||Dec 05, 2016||$130,000|
|Head of Design||Tripactions, Inc.||Menlo Park, CA||Sep 12, 2016||$130,000|
|Head Designer||Eurokitchen Design, LLC||Miami, FL||May 20, 2012||$120,000|
|Head Designer||Marchesa Holdings LLC||New York, NY||May 18, 2016||$114,000|
|Head Designer, Marchesa Couture||Marchesa Holdings LLC||New York, NY||Sep 19, 2014||$114,000|
|Head Designer||5.11, Inc.||Irvine, CA||Sep 14, 2016||$104,797|
|Head Designer||Four Star Distribution||San Clemente, CA||Nov 19, 2009||$104,000|
|Head Designer||Amerex Group LLC||New York, NY||Jun 11, 2015||$100,173|
|Head Designer||Saramax Apparel Group Inc.||New York, NY||Feb 21, 2013||$81,000|
|Head Designer||Har. Money Inc.||Los Angeles, CA||Jun 18, 2012||$81,000|
|Head Designer||Bloch Inc.||Reno, NV||Jan 04, 2015||$80,000|
|Head Designer||Bag Studio LLC||New York, NY||Dec 28, 2015||$75,000|
|Head Commercial Designer||Coral Ocean Design Inc.||Nov 27, 2014||$74,485|
|Head Commercial Designer||Coral Ocean Design Inc.||Dec 15, 2011||$74,298|
|Head Commercial Designer||Coral Ocean Design Inc.||Nov 27, 2011||$74,298|
|Head Grapihic Designer||Hammerhead Group, Inc.||Doral, FL||Sep 30, 2011||$66,200 -
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