What Is a Graphic Design Consultant?

Working in graphic design consultancy requires social and cultural savvy, along with the abilities to create designs on computers and meet tight deadlines. Read on to learn about graphic design consultants' job duties, educational requirements, career prospects and salary potential. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Description

Graphic design consultant is one type of position that a graphic designer could fill. If you work as a consultant, you might do freelance work or be employed by a consulting firm. Your main duties would be communicating with companies, organizations, government agencies, schools, and other clients and carrying out the necessary graphic design work. Your goal is to effectively send your client's intended message to a specified audience. Marketing, education, and promotion are some examples of the goals behind the visual communication you might create.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Work Environment Office, technical and creative settings
Similar Occupations Art directors, desktop publishers, technical writers
Key Skills Be able to create visual mediums, knowledge of computer software, familiarity with layout design and production
On-the-Job-Training Industry experience required for advancement to directorial positions

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties

The type of job you're assigned can depend on your expertise, experience, and clientele, and the types of visual messages you design can also have great variety. You might deliver ideas and concepts through brochures, signage, promotional displays, websites, illustrations, 3-D displays, packaging, and exhibits. You'll need technical expertise in a variety of mediums. The first step to crafting such projects is gleaning what the client wants, and you'll also need to discuss in-process projects with clients to ensure you're on the right track.

Some of the tasks in your workday might include:

  • Determining the print and software materials needed
  • Selecting sizing and color
  • Choosing typography
  • Drawing designs
  • Using computer software to compile everything together
  • Making changes to meet client expectations
  • Reviewing finished products

Education and Training

To work as a graphic design consultant, you'll need formal training. There are associate degree and certificate programs offered by professional schools; these commonly teach technical skills and usually take 2-3 years. However, that level of training usually only qualifies you to become an assistant, so you might consider earning a bachelor's degree in graphic design. The extra couple years of school could pay off with better job prospects. If you graduate with a bachelor's degree in a different field, you may also obtain the additional professional training and become a competitor for entry-level design jobs.

Program Courses

During an associate's or bachelor's program in graphic design, you can expect to take courses in graphic design and general education, as well as developing a portfolio. Internships are also common for graphic design students. Some core courses in these programs include:

  • Digital video and animation
  • Color theory
  • Page design
  • Digital illustration
  • Typography
  • Illustration
  • Graphic design history
  • Digital imaging
  • Printmaking
  • Web design
  • Graphic design software
  • Advertising

Other Important Skills

Becoming familiar with equipment and tools like cameras, desktop publishing software, Web page creation software, and Web platform development software is also important. You'll probably become well-versed in graphic design software such as Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Strong communications abilities, time management skills, analytical skills, a liberal arts background, and an innate creative spirit can help you succeed as a graphic designer.

Job Outlook and Salary

Over the decade spanning 2012-2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects slower-than-average employment growth of seven percent for graphic designers, with the most growth expected in the computer systems design industry (www.bls.gov). Designers will be needed to create content for the Internet and portable devices, so being knowledgeable in online media is helpful. In May 2014, the BLS reported that the top three employers of graphic designers were specialized design services, publishers and advertising and public relations services.

According to the BLS, the median wage for graphic designers was $45,900 in May 2014, with most making between $27,100 and $80,570. Those working for specialized design services made $54,140 on average, while those working in advertising and public relations made $51,580 on average. Newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers offered these professionals an average wage of $44,320.

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