Graphic Designer: Job Duties, Career Outlook, and Education Requirements

Explore the career requirements for graphic designers. Get the facts about degree requirements, job outlook and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Graphic Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Graphic Designer?

Graphic designers create designs for clients by hand or by using software. They design layouts and and use visual elements to deliver a message for marketing and advertising. As a graphic designer, you may work for specific types of clients, such as advertisers, or make illustrations for specific products. You'll need to be able to communicate ideas through your designs and also communicate with clients about the desired design.

Look at the following chart for more information about skills, salary and career outlook.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Graphic design
Key Skills Creativity, computer skills, detail oriented, artistic
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 1%*
Median Salary (2015) $46,900*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Job Duties of a Graphic Designer?

As a graphic designer, you'll need to find the best way to communicate a message by using print, electronic and film media. You'll do so through evaluating color, type, illustration, photography, animation and other print techniques. You may also need to plan the layout and production of magazines, newspapers, journals and corporate reports. Producing promotional material such as displays, packaging or marketing brochures, as well as designing logos for products and businesses, are duties you may have on the job. Additional job duties as a graphic designer include designing websites, interactive media and multimedia projects.

What's the Career Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), positions in graphic design are projected to grow by 1% from 2014-2024. Demand is expected to increase from advertising, publishing and computer design firms along with the expansion of television, movies, videos, cell phones, video games, websites and other Internet outlets. The BLS reported that the median salary for graphic designers was $46,900 per year as of May 2015.

What Are the Education Requirements?

Most graphic design jobs require at least a 4-year bachelor's degree in graphic design or a related discipline. Some positions may be available to candidates with only a two-year associate's degree. In addition to a high school diploma or a GED, postsecondary schools with programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design will often require sketches or other samples demonstrating your artistic ability before you can enroll.

Design layout, illustration, art history, communication methods and problem-solving are just a few subjects you can expect to cover. You'll also need to master a number of computer graphics and design software programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Upon graduation, you might also consider enrolling in a master's or doctorate degree program in graphic design.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Similar careers that also require a bachelor's degree include those of art directors and industrial designers. Art directors typically create the design for mediums such as magazines and newspapers, and directing other designers. Industrial designers create concepts and prototypes for all kinds of products, including automobiles, home appliances and more.

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:

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