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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.
Hispanic or Latino11.3%
Black or African American0.6%
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Average Length of Employment
Savannah College of Art and Design20.6%
Academy of Art University7.9%
School of Visual Arts7.5%
Fashion Institute of Technology7.4%
Art Institute of Pittsburgh6.8%
Full Sail University5.0%
Rochester Institute of Technology4.7%
Columbia College Chicago4.5%
Art Institute of California - Inland4.1%
Virginia Commonwealth University3.9%
Rhode Island School of Design3.4%
University of the Arts3.1%
Art Center College of Design3.0%
Ringling College of Art and Design2.8%
New York University2.6%
Iowa State University2.6%
San Jose State University2.3%
San Francisco State University2.3%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Digital Artist||Apple Inc.||Cupertino, CA||Apr 18, 2016||$137,000 -
|Digital Artist 1||Digital Domain 3.0||CA||Jan 30, 2013||$134,787|
|Computer Scientist/Digital Artist||Adobe Systems Incorporated||San Francisco, CA||Jan 21, 2013||$112,350|
|Digital Illustrator/Finisher||BLT Communications LLC||Los Angeles, CA||Jan 09, 2016||$100,000|
|Digital Illustrator/Finisher||BLT Communications LLC||Los Angeles, CA||Dec 31, 2015||$100,000|
|Digital Illustrator/Finisher||BLT Communications LLC||Los Angeles, CA||Dec 20, 2013||$95,000|
|Lead Production Artist||Just Games Interactive Entertainment, LLC||Los Angeles, CA||Jun 01, 2013||$89,856 -
|Illustrator||Digital Ocean, Inc.||New York, NY||Jul 28, 2015||$85,000|
|Retail Production Artist||Schawk USA Inc.||Cupertino, CA||Aug 12, 2014||$84,000 -
|Illustrator||Riot Games, Inc.||Los Angeles, CA||Dec 08, 2016||$83,262 -
|Illustrator||NWAY America, LLC||San Francisco, CA||Jun 15, 2015||$82,410|
|Multimedia Digital Artist||Eight VFX Inc.||Santa Monica, CA||Feb 01, 2014||$80,000|
|Interactive Graphic Production Artist||LVL Sunset, LLC||San Jose, CA||Mar 14, 2016||$79,000|
|Lead Concept and Production Artist||Playdom, Inc., Part of The Walt Disney Company Fam||Palo Alto, CA||Sep 30, 2013||$78,000|
|Biomedical Illustrator||Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center||New York, NY||Jul 19, 2013||$61,501|
|Digital Artist||Phosphene LLC||New York, NY||Sep 18, 2016||$60,000|
|Illustrator||Anatomical Travelogue, LLC||New York, NY||Oct 14, 2013||$60,000|
|Digital Artist/Retoucher||Armstrong White, Inc.||Birmingham, MI||Sep 11, 2013||$60,000|
|Digital Artist||Phosphene LLC||New York, NY||Sep 17, 2016||$60,000|
|Digital Artist||Shutterpunch LLC||Culver City, CA||Jul 13, 2015||$58,436|
|Production Artist||Concept Art House, Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Mar 09, 2016||$56,555|
|Illustrator||Penguin Random House LLC||Indianapolis, IN||Apr 01, 2016||$56,057|
|Production Artist||PTT, LLC||New York, NY||Sep 01, 2013||$47,133 -
|Digital Artist||Psyop Productions LLC||New York, NY||Sep 16, 2014||$47,000 -
|Production Artist||Zachary A. Barth||Redmond, WA||Sep 11, 2013||$46,925 -
|Illustrator||Section Studios, Inc.||Los Angeles, CA||Aug 07, 2015||$46,904|
|Production Artist||Concept Art House, Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Aug 13, 2016||$46,862 -
|Digital Artist||Ten Penny Studios||Los Angeles, CA||Jun 15, 2016||$45,914|
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