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What's the Employment Outlook for Graphic Design Jobs?

The graphic design job outlook is competitive, but opportunities do exist, especially for graphic designers who stay current with technology trends. Read on for details on jobs in graphic design and options for starting on a graphic design career path.

Graphic Design Job Outlook

According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for graphic designers are projected to grow by three percent from 2018 to 2028. This rate is slower than average, and employment in print publication areas like newspapers and periodicals is expected to decline significantly. However, companies increasingly represent themselves online, and graphic designers will be needed to design web sites and online communications. Candidates with strong, up-to-date technology skills may face the best prospects in this competitive field.

Essential Information

Education Requirements Bachelor's degree; training in graphic design
Other Requirements Portfolio of prior design work may be requested
Certification Not required in the industry, but designers may become certified with design software programs
Median Salary (2018) $50,370*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employment Opportunities

Jobs in graphic design can be found in several different areas including advertising and brand design, video and multimedia design, packaging design, and game design. Graphic designers may work for design firms or operate as self-employed designers. Over time, a graphic designer may accrue enough experience to take a position as an art director or another management role.

With the increasing emphasis on web and online communication, graphic designers are focusing more and more on creating overall online experiences. Designers in this area use design to help connect people with organizations and information through technology. Employment opportunities in this area are expected to be strong. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that demand for graphic designers in computer systems design and similar fields will increase by 24% between 2018 and 2028.

Though they represent a small percentage of the industry, those working in electronic shopping and mail-order houses and for nonstore retailers were expected to see the biggest growth in employment -- 49 and 45 percent, respectively.

Salary

In May 2018, the median salary for graphic designers was $50,370, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Designers employed in the federal executive branch and the aerospace industry earned the highest salaries. Salaries ranged from $29,610 or less for the lowest 10% to $85,760 or more for the highest 10%. Wages also varied depending on geographic location, with graphic designers in the District of Columbia and New York earning the most.

Education Requirements

A graphic design career path typically begins with a bachelor's degree. Prospective designers may wish to major in art and design or a related field. These programs usually include classes in studio art, graphics production, typography, and web design. They may also give students an opportunity to complete an internship to gain practical experience in the field.

Prospective designers with degrees in other fields can often complete training programs in graphic design. For example, certificate programs may require the completion of six to eight design classes, and some can be completed online. In addition to their education credentials, candidates should have a portfolio of examples of their design work. These portfolios often heavily influence hiring decisions by giving employers a sense of a candidate's design style, skills, and experience.

Work Environment

In 2018, just over 290,000 graphic designers were employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among these, the largest group was self-employed, with 22% of designers reporting this designation. Graphic designers also work in design firms and with organizations involved in advertising or publishing. Their work usually takes place in a studio environment. Designers can expect to spend time meeting with clients, and their hours and workloads may vary depending on the nature of the projects they undertake.