Career Path Options for a Graphic Designer

The average value of the Bachelor degree needed to become a Graphic designers is $990,421.00.

Graphic designers play a huge role in modern society, with all of the emphasis on entertainment and communication that has been brought in by the internet, computers in general, and the television. Likewise, they also have a lot to do with work in magazines, books, newspapers, advertisements, and other forms of print media.

In short, graphic designers can be found anywhere that graphics and communications are mixed, and there are a ton of places where this is true. If one is looking for a job in graphic design, one should know that there are a plethora of different options out there through which one can find a satisfying and fulfilling career, doing the type of work that one loves to do. Graphic designers much be highly skilled and have an eye both for art and for details, and they will find a lot of outlets through which to use their work, to employ their craft.

Points of Interest

The market is expected to grow. It will not be exploding, but it will be growing at an average rate; in the current economy, this is a very good thing to hear. Many other jobs are stagnant or declining, and jobs for graphic designers keep opening up. The reason is that there are so many different ways that graphic designers can be used, and some markets — the internet, for example — are only expanding because of the poor economy, as everyone tries to use the internet to get the most profits possible with the least overhead. – A graphic designer will generally need to have a Bachelor’s degree.

This is very important to note, as it will be virtually impossible to land a job without a degree. It is true that the quality of the art is also very important, but there are a lot of good artists out there, and the ones who have degrees are at the front of the lines to become hired. – There is a high amount of competition. Even with the market expanding at an average rate, there are many graphic designers coming out of art schools each and every year, and they all need jobs.

Their skills are generally highly tailored toward one thing — thus, they need to look for graphic design jobs with little else to look into for options. This keeps the competition fierce. – The very best opportunities will be available to those with a background in both web design and animation. If one has acquired these skills on one’s own, and can show them off during an interview, it will be a big help. If one has worked in the web design industry, or the animation industry, this will also go a long way toward landing another job.

Nature of the Work

Graphic designers are people who look at communication problems not as problems alone, but as opportunities to improve, through the use of many different mediums, the ability of people to communicate. They will use text, images, colors, animation, photography, and illustration in order to make something that can communicate a message quickly and efficiently to the general public, or to a specific audience. This communication can be done through an ad in a magazine or the cover of a book. It can be done through the layout of a business brochure or a pop-up ad on a computer screen.

The basic goal of anything that a graphic artist creates is that it will communicate its message quickly, as people will not have a lot of time to spend reading or trying to sort things out, and that it will also communicate that message in an attractive fashion, as people will have to be convinced or encouraged to read the message in the first place. Graphic designers must be able to mix all of these various ideas together, from text to animation to the use of geometric shapes and color. They cannot be too embedded in only one idea, as the best graphic art is the kind that utilizes all of the different things that it can. This can be seen all over the world, in everything from billboards to company logos to street signs.

graphic designers

Graphic designers are responsible for creating these designs, these different ways of communication. Billboards, for example, must use text to sell a product or give company information. They must also use illustration to show that product, or imagery to show the company logo; still other times, they use photography to show the faces of the people who work for the business. On top of all of that, they must use eye-catching colors and pleasant color schemes in order to draw people in, so that they will read the sign in the first place. As can be seen, graphic designers must have a wide array of skills. One of the biggest steps in the work is before the work truly begins. A graphic designer must meet with the person who wants the art, whether that means an author who needs a book cover or a big business owner who needs a logo designed. They must consider all of the things that their art needs to represent, all of the things that their employer — even if the job is freelance, an employer is whoever is paying for the project — desires to say. In this, there is a bit less creativity than there is in doing art just for oneself.

The art must be creative, of course, but it also must have all of the elements that the employer is asking for, and it must say all of the things that the employer needs it to say. In this way, one of the biggest challengs for a graphic designer is incorporating all of the necessary information into an attractive and unique piece of art. Graphic designers must consider all cultural implications of their work, looking at social aspects, cultural heritage, and the way that modern people perceive things. A large part of the job — as with all advertising companies, which graphic designers often work for — is figuring out what people are already thinking and feeling, and then figuring out how to influence them with an artistic message.

The target audience must be identified and analyzed before any of the other work can begin. Sketches and ideas must be created, rejected, and created again. In the end, graphic designers want to have something that will speak to the most people possible, that will really have a large impact on the target audience, and that will be relevant to the current market and culture. Much of the work is done on the computer, but graphic designers will often start with a piece of paper and a pencil. If they are designing a logo, for example, they will need to use a computer to incorporate illustration, type, color, and images.

This process, however, can start with rough paper sketches that are looked at before any computer work is started, as the designer wants to have a good idea what they are doing before plunging in, to avoid wasting time and money. These pencil and paper sketches do not have to be perfect, but can be changed a lot to take certain images out and put others in or to change the wording and style of type. Once a winning design has been decided on, the graphic designer will most often go to the computer to recreate the sketch and make the finished product.

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

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As mentioned above, the most basic qualification is a Bachelor’s degree in graphic design. This can be obtained from one of the many art schools all around the world. This degree will ensure that an artist is not only good at creating art, but that they have a background in using computers, printers, scanners, and all of the other technical equipment that is required to do the job successfully. It will also show that the artist has studied studio art, design principles, design with computers, production of graphics, different printing techniques, and web site design. These are all fundamental parts of the process, and employers will want to know that an artist has mastered them all so that there will be no holes in their work, nothing that they cannot do to make a certain project the best that it can be or to make it match the employer’s ideas and desires. Another thing that the Bachelor’s degree will provide is a general, well-rounded education for the artist. They will be able to do college level math. They will be up to date on current political and social reforms.

They will understand history and the way that it impacts the world. They will have a good idea of culture, of how people think, and of what can influence people the most. This general understanding will help the artist best put their work to action in a way that can be effective. It will make sure that they understand many things outside of art alone, so that their work can be effective when it is shown to the general public. It will also just make sure that they are an intelligent person, able to learn quickly and follow directions. All of these qualities, while they will not make an artist on their own, will make an artist even better at producing a higher quality of work than they could otherwise.

There are a number of other qualities that can help a graphic designer land their dream job. One such quality is communication, something all good graphic designers must be willing to do very well. This works two ways. First, it means that the artist can effectively communicate what they are thinking and planning to an employer or to fellow artists working on a single project. This makes sure that there will be an understanding by all of what work is being done and the direction in which it needs to go. The second way is that it makes sure that the artist is able to understand what an employer or a client is asking.

This way, they will do the work that is desired, and not something similar, though incorrect. Another desirable quality in a graphic designer is an eye for detail. They must be able to iron out all of the small mistakes in their work, and to recognize those mistakes. They must be able to spell and to use type in a way that is grammatically correct. Art is a very detailed vocation, and there cannot be mistakes. The projects are just too important for error. Many projects are things that will represent a company to the rest of the world, and they need to do that in a positive way, with a high degree of quality. A graphic designer must see all of the little details, and use them to the best of their ability. One other quality is that graphic designers need is to have their hand on the pulse of a culture.

They need to know what is happening in the world, so that their art can both reflect it and speak to those other people who are experiencing it. They need to have read a lot of books, and a lot of history, so that they can understand the things that a culture enjoys and finds desirable, and also the reasons that culture desires those things. They need to know about all of the little things that make a culture and a people what and who they are, so that their art can be effective. If a graphic designer can show this sort of knowledge, and this hunger to always be learning more as the world changes and evolves, an employer will be very impressed. Advancement can come relatively quickly in the art world. An artist may need only one to three years of work and experience before being eligible for promotion to the position of Creative Director — as is common in advertising companies — or Chief Designer — as is common in many art design firms.

Other advancement to be considered is into the field of teaching, as many graphic designers will teach at colleges or universities, and then will do freelance artwork in their spare time. This can provide a good balance, as many teaching positions will not require forty hours of work, leaving the artist plenty of time to work on their art on the side. In addition to theses advancements, some graphic designers create their own advancement by starting a studio or a firm under their own name. They will have had to have built up a large client base of people familiar with their work, and so this can take a long time to accomplish.


While some sources have the market increasing at an average rate, other sources claim that it will be increasing at an exponential rate; either way, this means that there are going to be jobs available in the future for graphic designers. These jobs can be very exciting, and differ a bit depending on one’s employer. One could also start one’s own business, which just means that one has to built up a foundation of clientele. Graphic designers are very important in the world today, and can be employed in a number of different positions. Some of the biggest employers of graphic design artists are advertising firms.

These firms can do all sorts of different advertising, from internet-based ads and promotions to television commercials to billboard designs. All of these vocations can use graphic designers, and so the advertising firms will often have them right on salary along with writers, sound technicians, and other artists. This work is highly technical, and will have to be created in such a fashion that it satisfies a customer completely. This can take a while, as multiple designs may have to be made before a customer is happy with one of them.

Other times, these customers will be very flexible and will allow for a wide range of creative process by the artists. Other employers of graphic design artists are publishing companies. They need artists to work on their book covers. As much as people know they should not judge a book by its cover, they often do. Having eye-catching covers that represent the books inside very well is a great way to sell more copies, and the publishing companies know how important this is. In a bookstore, the reviews may not matter at all to someone who is just browsing, and so the cover is the first thing that will get them to pick the book up. Graphic designers employed in this vocation may have to read the books and work closely with the authors in order to get a good idea of what will correctly and attractively represent the book.

Graphic designers hold approximately 300,000 jobs across the United States, and that number is growing with each year. Besides advertising firms and book publishers, they also work for newspapers, computer graphics design firms, periodicals, and the like. Some of them have started their own freelance businesses or their own firms. Others work for firms that will rent out their services to all different types of companies, from Fortune 500 giants to independent book publishers. There are many different options available, and graphic designers will often have to work on tons of very interesting and unique projects.

Job Outlook

The job outlook is very good. The market seems to be growing, by all reports, so that means that there will be more jobs available even though there are more graphic designers coming out of school every year.

Many of the positions will be entry level work, with lower salaries and overseers who will be in charge of the projects. Graphic designers may have to do just pieces of different projects. However, with the expanding market, they should be able to move up into the positions of Creative Director or Chief Designer very quickly. Until 2018, the market should be growing at about thirteen percent. This could increase with the growing demand for work in relation to the internet. This can be one way in which graphic designers can get their feet in the door — by learning about website design and animation. Both are very important to websites, and social media sites are bigger now than they ever have been. These need designers and people to make animations for them, as web technology increases and becomes progressively less dependent on text.

Much text is already made by graphic designers and is not text at all, but text melded with photographs and videos. In addition to the above, there will be a lot of work for those who know how to work in relation to portable devices. These have become very popular and need their own software and websites to run, which means that animation is needed that can run on portable devices and that new sites need to be designed with smaller devices in mind. These sites need to be streamlined and simple, as they will be accessed by devices without the raw power of computers. This specialized field has been growing in the last few years with the invention of devices like the iPad that are a mix of computer technology and cell phone technology.


As mentioned, the market is projected to grow at thirteen percent. By the year 2018 there should be approximately 325,000 graphic designers working in the field. This could very well change, though probably not to a lower number. If anything, the field will take off at an even faster rate than is expected. Computer technology is always changing and shifting — one example is the rise of ebooks over hardback books, which has led to a lot of work for graphic designers making cover illustrations (these are displayed near the download, and are generally just smaller versions of the covers), advertisements, and all sorts of other art to go with this new market.

There is no reason to think that computers will now become stagnant, and new technologies entirely could be invented. With them, the work for graphic designers will also increase. There has never been a better time to get into the field, as one can be sure that his or her skills will be needed in the near future.


Graphic designers can make fairly good money, and can make a lot if they are at the top of their profession. The median wage is right around 43,000 dollars a year, with entry level jobs paying less and high level jobs, naturally, paying a bit more. Still, the 43,000 is what a person can realistically expect to make if they are going for a career in graphic design — it just might take them a few years to get there. Entry level jobs generally start in at about 35,000 dollars a year, and this wage can rise by ten thousand, to 45,000 dollars a year with a full-time staff position. As noted above, this can take one to three years to acquire.

If one becomes a person in charge of a staff, with the ability to make decisions and plan projects, the earnings go up toward 60,000 dollars a year. For Creative Directors and others who are at the head of the company, with all of the rest below them save for the owners, the pay can be as high as 95,000 dollars a year. There are more responsibilities with these positions, and one may not have as much time to actually do art, but the pay is quite high. Freelance graphic designers make a bit less than this, on average, clocking in at about 57,000 dollars a year. This is very good, though, as they also have the ability to work from home, and to work whatever hours they desire.

Wages – The wages can be broken down into a number of different categories, as graphic designers do not all do identical jobs. The first is for those who work with computers, designing for computer systems; they make an average of 47,860 dollars per year. After that come people with specialized design projects, who can do a number of different jobs; they make an average of 45,870 dollars a year. Next come those working in advertising, who make up a large percentage of the graphic designers out there; they make an average of 43,540 dollars a year. Just below that come those working for newspapers, who make an average of 36,910 dollars a year.

Finally, there are those who work for printing services, whether on paper or another medium, such as clothing, who make an average of 36,100 dollars a year. As can be seen, even the lowest of these make over thirty thousand dollars a year, so the money in graphic design can be quite good.

Related Occupations

There are a number of similar occupations that can be held for those with an artistic flare who do not want to be graphic designers or are having a hard time breaking into the industry. One option is to become a website designer; this not only will offer one an exciting career, but it can be used as crucial experience toward getting back into the graphic design industry later on down the line. Website designers work with layouts and text and graphics, often doing graphic design for different parts of the websites. Another career that one could pursue would be as an animator. These people are in high demand, as they work with movies and video games.

With the popularity of advanced video gaming systems and three-dimensional movies, these careers could flourish as well. Animators may be responsible for creating characters, worlds, backgrounds, or text to be displayed at the beginning of a movie or video game. Again, this can be used as a stepping-stone back into the world of graphic design, if that remains one’s end goal. An offshoot of the animation career is a career as a video game designer. These people work exclusively on video games, whether they are for personal computers, gaming consoles, or internet-based programs. The head designer on a video game project will be responsible for incorporating text, animations, and images.

The individual workers will ofter have a certain area in which they are an expert, pouring all of their time and energy into creating the game’s character models, building the landscapes and backgrounds, or testing all of the different components to make sure that they all work together the way that they are intended. While the art used may not only be in design with text and graphics, it will still be very creative and highly technical. Third, one could consider being a teacher. This may not give one all of the opportunities to use their craft, but they will be able to explain it each and every day to students who are going into the same profession.

They will be able to hone their skills while teaching, and to develop new skills as well — it is often said that the best way to really learn something is to try to teach it to another person. This career can be very lucrative, as art schools are expensive and can afford to pay their professors very well, and it will look great on a resume. One could also use the time spent teaching to work on freelance projects, or to work part-time at a graphic design firm. This way, if there is not full-time work available, one will be able to make a good living doing what one loves while waiting for full-time opportunities to open up; with the expanding market, this should not take very long.

Sources of Additional Information