Ad Designer: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become an ad designer. Learn about education requirements, salary and employment projections to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Design Strategy & Innovation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Ad Designer?

An ad designer develops advertisements that are intended to target a specific audience and generate interest in the advertised product. They utilize their knowledge of visual art and their skills with graphic design software to develop these advertisements. Their work may be featured in magazines, newspapers, billboards or on websites. They need a bachelor's degree in graphic design or a related subject area, and they need artistic skill.

As part of their studies, aspiring graphic designers may learn about computerized design, design principles and website design. While pursuing a bachelor's degree, students typically develop a portfolio of their work, which is critical when applying for positions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, in 2014, 20% of graphic designers were self-employed, and 8% worked in advertising, public relations and related services.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Graphic design or a related field
Key Skills Familiarity with design software, an ability to work with multimedia formats
Job Growth (2014-2024) 1% (for all graphic designers)*
Median Salary (2015) $46,900 (for all graphic designers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Ad Designers Do?

Advertising is a vital tool businesses use to communicate ideas and sell products. As an ad designer, you will create a visual concept consisting of shapes, text, photographs, drawings and computer-generated objects. For Web advertising, you may work with sound effects, animation and video clips. After meeting with a client and drafting ideas to convey their message, you'll determine what elements to use and position them in a layout. To perform these tasks, you must have working knowledge of the latest computer illustration and design software, along with knowledge of what components and designs are most visually appealing to consumers.

What Are the Education Requirements?

If you want to work as an ad designer, you might choose to pursue a program in graphic design. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) acknowledges that a bachelor's degree from an accredited school is usually necessary for a career in graphic design ( The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) accredits art schools with high-quality instructors and curricula.

Some schools require you to demonstrate your talent by presenting a portfolio of your artwork during the application process. You can include pieces you created in high school or in basic art classes from a community college or vocational school. Within a graphic design program, you explore topics in typography, computer imaging, illustration and digital media. You might benefit from taking basic business classes in advertising and marketing. In addition to courses, you may be required to complete studio requirements or a senior thesis.

What Is the Job Outlook for Ad Designers?

According to the BLS, demand for graphic designers is projected to increase 1% overall between 2014 and 2024. Graphic designers who can generate images for the Internet should face the best job prospects. As of May 2015, the median annual salary for graphic designers was $46,900. During this same year, the top-paid 10% earned $81,320, while the bottom 10% earned $27,560.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Web designers, multimedia artists and animators and craft and fine artists all share common elements of their work with ad designers. Web designers produce websites and must design them to be visually appealing to the intended audience. They need an associate's degree, and - like ad designers - they need strong computer skills.

Multimedia artists and animators and craft and fine artists all need strong artistic skills. They must have an understanding of visual design in order to create works that serve their intended purpose. While a bachelor's degree is not necessarily required for craft and fine artists, it is recommended and provides an opportunity for these artists to develop their skills and build a portfolio of their work. Like ad designers, multimedia artists and animators use their artistic and computer skills to produce their materials. They typically need a bachelor's degree to find employment.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools