Graphic Designers: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
A bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field is usually required. However, individuals with a bachelor’s degree in another field may pursue technical training in graphic design to meet most hiring qualifications.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 5% (As fast as average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Advancement
Experienced graphic designers may advance to chief designer, art director, or other supervisory positions.
Licenses/Certifications
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.
Median pay: How much do Graphic Designers make?
$47,640 Annual Salary
$22.90 per hour

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

What do Graphic Designers do?

Graphic designers typically do the following:

  • Meet with clients or the art director to determine the scope of a project
  • Use digital illustration, photo editing software, and layout software to create designs
  • Create visual elements such as logos, original images, and illustrations that help deliver a desired message
  • Design layouts and select colors, images, and typefaces to use
  • Present design concepts to clients or art directors
  • Incorporate changes recommended by clients or art directors into final designs
  • 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.

Graphic designers 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 to marketing and selling 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 on retail products packaging, and others may work on the visual designs used on book jackets.

Graphic designers need to keep up to date with the latest software and computer technologies in order to remain competitive.

Some individuals with a background in graphic design become postsecondary teachers and teach in design schools, colleges, and universities.

Some graphic designers may specialize in the field of experiential graphic design. These designers work with architects, industrial designers, landscape architects, and interior designers to create interactive design environments, such as museum exhibitions, public arts exhibits, and retail spaces.

Careers for Graphic Designers

  • Catalogue illustrators
  • Graphic artists
  • Visual designers

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