How Can I Become a Print Ad Designer?

Research what it takes to become a print ad designer. Learn about degree requirements, job outlook and salary 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 Do Print Ad Designers Do?

Print ad designers design and create attractive visual campaigns for products or services, generally performing the same duties and requiring the same education as a graphic designer. They need to be able to integrate the desires of the client into their own creative process in order to produce a suitable final product, requiring them to have a strong artistic vision and good communication skills. Print ad designers may work steady positions within companies or they may accept work on a freelance basis, giving them the freedom to take on many different projects at once. As the field can be very competitive, print ad designers need to stay on top of all of the technologies and programs that are regularly used within the industry.

Keep reading to find out general career information and what salary you can earn, as featured in the following table.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Graphic design
Key Skills Creativity, attention to detail, advanced computer literacy, organization
Job Growth (2014-2024) 1% (all graphic designers)*
Median Salary (2015) $46,900 (all graphic designers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Training Do I Need to Be a Print Ad Designer?

To become a print ad designer, you may need a bachelor's degree in graphic design. A communication design program might give you the opportunity to specialize in advertising. You might study drawing, cartooning and engraving. You would learn how to communicate concepts to businesses and buyers through visual media by studying principles of design and layout. Other subjects you might study in a graphic design program include:

  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Illustration
  • Computer design
  • Copywriting
  • Psychology
  • Typography

If you already hold a bachelor's degree in another field, you might pursue a 2-3 year associate's degree or certificate program to learn to develop ideas through visual media. Programs are available in graphic design and advertising design. A degree program would help you to design a portfolio of work samples.

What Does a Print Ad Designer Do?

A print ad designer uses graphic design training to express a company's message through such elements as color, type, photography, illustration and the style of the layout. In this career, you would need to determine the message the business wants the ad to communicate and how it will connect to the viewers. Then you would produce preliminary designs that reflect the needs of the consumer by hand or using computer design software. You might create ads with a straightforward, surprising or persuasive tone.

To become a print ad designer, you would work self-sufficiently and organize various assignments. You would need to keep up with consumer trends by reading and seeking new inspiration. Maintaining a portfolio of your work is essential for finding positions.

Where Might I Work?

A variety of businesses spend large amounts of money to produce advertising that will drive consumer spending. You might find in-house or freelancing jobs in design houses, advertising agencies, retail chains, printers, publishers, corporate design departments, design firms, magazines and newspapers.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

One similar option to working as a graphic designer is to seek out employment as an art director, giving you full creative direction over visual campaigns for companies and services. Art directors may oversee a wide range of advertising and promotional campaigns, such as those featured in magazines, book covers, film production or product packaging. They need to have earned a bachelor's degree in their field in order to find work. Alternatively, you may be interested in becoming an industrial designer. These professionals draw out designs for manufactured products, requiring them to have strong artistic skills and knowledge of the product in question. Industrial designers also need to have studied to the bachelor's degree level.

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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