Graphic Designer Job Description

Graphic designers use their artistic ability to design logos, packages, websites, displays, layouts, and other products. The goal of most graphic design is to help an organization or individual present themselves to the public in an appropriate and positive way.

Before a graphic designer can really start a design, they need to meet with their client and discuss the goals for the project. What is the project supposed to accomplish? Who is the target audience? Are there any branding considerations that need to be taken into account? These are all important questions that impact the direction that a design takes.

Today, most graphic design is created digitally using software like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Keeping up with the newest software developments is critical for remaining relevant in this field.

To be a successful graphic designer, you have to understand how typography, color, white space, and messaging work together to create a mood or impulse. You might not realize it at first, but there’s a lot of psychology at work in most graphic design. When the design is good, all of the elements work together to persuade people to buy a product or service.

Because there are so many mediums that graphic designers can work with, most choose to specialize. Print, web design, and poster design are just a few of the many specialties available to graphic designers.

To make their designs a reality, graphic designers normally have to work with other specialists. For example, a web designer has to work with web developers to ensure that their designs are translated to a website in the way they intended. Similarly, print designers have to work with printers, and take the limitations of the technology into account when creating their designs.

If you are an artistic person and want to find a career where you can design for a living, then working as a graphic designer might be right for you.

Work Environment and Schedule

Graphic designers work in many industries. Some work in-house and design materials for a single company, while others work in an agency environment where they work on projects for many different clients. Newspapers, tech companies, and advertising firms all hire graphic designers.

Most graphic designers work in an office environment. Some do all of their work in front of a computer, while others do their work by hand. The tools and equipment needed for the job depend on the type of graphic design that a particular designer specializes in.

About one third of all graphic designers are self-employed. While working for yourself can lead to a more flexible schedule in some cases, designers need to make adjustments to their schedules to accommodate the needs of their clients. Some may only be able to meet on evenings or weekends, so graphic designers need to themselves available when needed.

Graphic design is a deadline-driven occupation, and working long hours may be required to meet deadlines or get through a heavy workload. During slower times, graphic designers are often able to work a much more flexible schedule, though.

This occupation can be stressful at times, particularly when time is tight or when a client doesn’t like a particular design and wants to make a lot of edits or start over altogether.

The majority of graphic designers work full time, but there are part time, contract, and freelance opportunities as well.

How to Become a Graphic Designer

Most graphic designers have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, art, or a related field. However, this is a field where the strength of your portfolio is normally more important that your academic credentials, and you will meet many graphic designers who developed their skills without the benefit of formal education.

If you do decide to attend a graphic design program, you should make sure that it’s accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. While you can still learn a lot in a non-accredited program, the credits that you earn are unlikely to transfer to another school, and may prevent you from going to graduate school later on (should you decide to do so).

There are many different types of design programs available in college, and you should choose the ones that most closely fit your interests. Print design, web design, computerized design, and printing techniques are just a few of the areas of specialty within the graphic design field.

Taking courses in other disciplines can help prepare you for a career in this field as well. Since graphic designers are ultimately hired to help drive business metrics, courses in business, marketing, and economics can be valuable down the road.

Many employers base their hiring decisions solely on the candidate’s portfolio of work, and it can be very difficult to get a job without a professional portfolio. Getting an internship while in college can help you build a strong portfolio, and you should strongly consider getting one if you have the opportunity to do so. To learn more about getting an internship, stop by your college’s career center.

If you’re still in high school and you’re considering a career in this occupation, you should take as many art classes as you can before college. A strong understanding of color theory and experience with art techniques will help you develop your skills and prepare you for your college coursework.

Related Occupations

Employment Outlook

There are currently 279,200 graphic designers in the United States, with 12,380 new graphic designer job openings created each year.

Graphic Designer jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.

Graphic Designer Salaries

Overall Salaries

Graphic Designer salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most graphic designers make between $33,400 – $59,400 per year, or $16.06 – $28.56 per hour.

Updated: 05/04/2017

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