Graphic Designer: Job Duties, Career Outlook, and Education Requirements
There are several different types of graphic design careers, but most graphic designer jobs work to create visuals that relate an idea or concept to the observer. Learn more about how to become a graphic designer here.
Graphic Designer Job Description
Graphic designers bring ideas and concepts to consumers in a unique, visual format. These professionals typically combine art with technology to create a wide range of visual communications for their clients. A graphic designer may be responsible for:
- Listening to clients or directors to understand a project
- Planning and designing layouts
- Creating images, logos, and other visuals
- Editing work based on client/director feedback
- Selecting fonts, colors, sizes, and other characteristics
Types of Graphic Design Careers
Graphic designers are needed in a variety of fields to create a range of products. Graphic designers may specialize in creating the text, images, layouts, and more for:
- Product packaging
Some graphic designers may even choose to apply their skills and knowledge to other fields, such as education to work as postsecondary teachers teaching their craft. Others may work with architects and designers to help create experiential designs, like exhibitions.
Graphic Design Career Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the job outlook for graphic designers is 3% for 2018 to 2028. This outlook is slower than the national average but may vary based on the industry in which the graphic designer works. For example, the BLS stated that those working in computer systems design were projected to have a much higher growth rate than those working for newspaper, book, and other print publishers.
The BLS also reported that the average annual salary for graphic designers as of 2018 was $54,680. Graphic designers working for the federal government were reported to have the highest salary for the same year at $83,090.
How to Become a Graphic Designer
Graphic design requirements generally consist of formal education, experience/practice, and professional certification. Here we discuss each requirement in more detail.
Most graphic designers need at least a bachelor's degree. Although this degree may be in art or a field related to graphic design, a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), or Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Graphic Design is most common.
Graphic design degree programs are fairly common, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, typically with several different options available in larger cities, such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and Dallas. Some of these degree programs are even available in online formats. Students in a bachelor's degree program in graphic design may take courses in subjects such as:
- Color theory
- Digital imaging
- Web design
- Brand identity
Getting Hands-on Experience in Graphic Design
During their formal education and after, graphic designers need to create designs and projects for their professional portfolio. Employers often base their selection on portfolio work, so graphic designers need to continue developing their skills and range of pieces through internships, jobs, and other hands-on experiences.
Graphic Design Certification
Although it is not always required, some graphic designers may choose to pursue professional certifications to demonstrate their skills and expertise. Certifications may also offer a competitive edge in the job market.
Certification is usually available with specific software programs that graphic designers use. For example, graphic designers may pursue certification as an Adobe Certified Expert for programs like Photoshop or Illustrator. Those interested in advancement and/or moving into more managerial positions may consider certification such as a Project Management Professional (PMP). Certifications typically require designers to pass an exam.