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Graphic Designer Jobs | Graphic Design Careers

Page updated 3/1/2016

 

Graphic designers create visual concepts, by hand or using computers, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, or captivate consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports.

Graphic designer duties: 

  • Meet with clients or the art director to determine the scope of a project
  • Advise clients on strategies to reach a particular audience
  • Determine the message the design should portray
  • Create images that identify a product or convey a message
  • Develop graphics for product illustrations, logos, and websites
  • Select colors, images, text style, and layout
  • Present the design to clients or the art director
  • Incorporate changes recommended by the clients into the final design
  • Review designs for errors before printing or publishing them

Graphic designers combine art and technology to communicate ideas through images and the layout of websites and printed pages. They may use a variety of design elements to achieve artistic or decorative effects.

They work with both text and images. They often select the type, font, size, color, and line length of headlines, headings, and text. Graphic designers also decide how images and text will go together on a print or webpage, including how much space each will have. When using text in layouts, graphic designers collaborate closely with writers who choose the words and decide whether the words will be put into paragraphs, lists, or tables. Through the use of images, text, and color, graphic designers can transform statistical data into visual graphics and diagrams, which can make complex ideas more accessible.

Graphic design is important in the sales and marketing of products, and is a critical component of brochures and logos. Therefore, graphic designers, also referred to as graphic artists or communication designers, often work closely with people in advertising and promotions, public relations, and marketing.

Frequently, designers specialize in a particular category or type of client. For example, some create the graphics used in packaging for various types of retail products, while others may work on the visual design used on a book jacket.
Graphic designers also need to keep up to date with the latest software and computer technologies to remain competitive. Some individuals with this background teach in design schools, colleges, and universities.

 

Work Environment For Graphic Designer

Graphic designers held about 259,500 jobs in 2012. The industries that employed the most graphic designers in 2012 were as follows:

Manufacturing 14%
Specialized design services 10%
Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers 9%
Advertising, public relations, and related services 8%
Wholesale trade 5%

Graphic designers generally work in studios where they have access to drafting tables, computers, and the software necessary to create their designs. Although many graphic designers work independently, those who work for specialized graphic design firms often work as part of a design team. Some designers telecommute. Many graphic designers collaborate with colleagues on projects or work with clients located around the world.

Work Schedules

Most graphic designers work full time, but schedules can vary depending on workload and deadlines.
In 2012, about 24 percent of graphic designers were self-employed. Graphic designers who are self-employed may need to adjust their workday to meet with clients in the evenings or on weekends. In addition, they may spend some of their time looking for new projects or competing with other designers for contracts

Graphic designers usually need a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field. Candidates for graphic design positions should demonstrate their creativity and originality through a professional portfolio that features their best designs.

Education

A bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field is usually required. However, those with a bachelor’s degree in another field may pursue technical training in graphic design to meet most hiring qualifications.

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits about 300 postsecondary colleges, universities, and independent institutes with programs in art and design. Most schools include studio art, principles of design, computerized design, commercial graphics production, printing techniques, and website design. In addition, students should consider courses in writing, marketing, and business, all of which are useful in helping designers work effectively on project teams.

Many programs provide students with the opportunity to build a professional portfolio of their designs. This means collecting examples of their designs from classroom projects, internships, or other experiences. Students can use these examples of their work to demonstrate their design skills when applying for jobs and bidding on projects. A good portfolio often is the deciding factor in getting a job.

Students interested in graphic design programs should take basic art and design courses in high school, if the courses are available. Many bachelor's degree programs require students to complete a year of basic art and design courses before being admitted to a formal degree program. Some schools require applicants to submit sketches and other examples of their artistic ability.

Graphic designers must keep up with new and updated computer graphics and design software, either on their own or through formal software training programs. Professional associations that specialize in graphic design, such as AIGA and the Graphic Artists Guild, offer courses intended to keep the skills of their members up to date.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certification programs are generally available through software product vendors. Certification in graphic design software can demonstrate a level of competence and may provide a jobseeker with a competitive advantage.

Advancement

Beginning graphic designers usually need 1 to 3 years of work experience before they can advance to higher positions. Experienced graphic designers may advance to chief designer, art or creative director, or other supervisory positions.

Qualities

  • Analytical skills. Graphic designers must be able to look at their work from the point of view of their consumers and examine how the designs they develop will be perceived by the consumer to ensure they convey the client’s desired message.
  • Artistic ability. Graphic designers must be able to create designs that are artistically interesting and appealing to clients and consumers. They produce rough illustrations of design ideas, either by hand sketching or by using a computer program.
  • Communication skills. Graphic designers must communicate with clients, customers, and other designers to ensure that their designs accurately reflect the desired message and effectively express information.
  • Computer skills. Most graphic designers use specialized graphic design software to prepare their designs.
  • Creativity. Graphic designers must be able to think of new approaches to communicating ideas to consumers. They develop unique designs that convey a recognizable meaning on behalf of their clients.
  • Time-management skills. Graphic designers often work on multiple projects at the same time, each with a different deadline.

 

Graphic Designer Pay and Earnings

The median annual wage for graphic designers was $44,150 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,250, and the top 10 percent earned more than $77,490.

Most graphic designers work full time, but schedules can vary depending on workload and deadlines.
In 2012, about 24 percent of graphic designers were self-employed. Graphic designers who are self-employed may need to adjust their workday to meet with clients in the evenings or on weekends. In addition, they may spend some of their time looking for new projects or competing with other designers for contracts.

Job Outlook

Employment of graphic designers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Graphic designers will continue to play important roles in the marketing of products.

The change in employment of graphic designers from 2012 to 2022 is projected to vary by industry. Employment of graphic designers in newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers is projected to decline 16 percent from 2012 to 2022. However, employment of graphic designers in computer systems design and related services is projected to grow 35 percent over the same period. With the increased use of the Internet, graphic designers will be needed to create designs and images for portable devices, websites, electronic publications, and video entertainment media.

Job Prospects

Graphic designers are expected to face strong competition for available positions. Many talented individuals are attracted to careers as graphic designers. Prospects will be better for job applicants who work with various types of media, such as websites and print publications.

  • Citation: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Graphic Designers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/graphic-designers.htm