Jobs, Career, Salary and Education Information (2022)

Career, Salary and Education Information

What They Do: Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers.

Work Environment: Many of these workers are employed in specialized design services, publishing, or advertising, public relations, and related services industries.

How to Become One: Graphic designers usually need a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field. Candidates for graphic design positions should have a portfolio that demonstrates their creativity and originality.

Salary: The median annual wage for graphic designers is $50,710.

Job Outlook: Employment of graphic designers is projected to grow 3 percent over the next ten years, slower than the average for all occupations.

Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of graphic designers with similar occupations.

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a Graphic Designer with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following Graphic Designer jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Graphic Designer Jobs

  • Associate Apparel Graphic Designer - Superior Group of Companies - Coppell, TX

    Associate Apparel Graphic Designer Want to take your professional apparel graphic designer experience to a company that values its team members? SGC's Associate Apparel Graphic Designer position ...

  • Junior Graphic Designer - Dynamic Dynosaur - Costa Mesa, CA

    The Junior Graphic Designer is responsible for assisting in the creation and execution of many different facets of Graphic Design. This includes executing against set direction from the Art and ...

  • Graphic Designer II - DCG One, LLC - Seattle, WA

    GRAPHIC DESIGNER II Department: Creative Agency Location: hybrid position (flexible remote/in-person work) based in Seattle, WA Salary : $70,000 - 85,000 DOE ABOUT US DCG ONE is a full-service ...

See all Graphic Designer jobs

What Graphic Designers Do[About this section] [To Top]

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.

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Duties of Graphic Designers

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.

Work Environment for Graphic Designers[About this section] [To Top]

Graphic designers hold about 265,000 jobs. The largest employers of graphic designers are as follows:

Self-employed workers 19%
Specialized design services 9%
Advertising, public relations, and related services 9%
Printing and related support activities 7%
Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers 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. Many graphic designers collaborate with colleagues or work with clients on projects.

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Graphic Designer Work Schedules

Graphic designers' schedules can vary depending on workloads and deadlines.

Those 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.

How to Become a Graphic Designer[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Graphic Designers near you!

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 for Graphic Designers

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.

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits about 350 postsecondary colleges, universities, and independent institutes with programs in art and design. Most programs include courses in 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.

High school students interested in graphic design 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.

Many programs provide students with the opportunity to build a professional portfolio of their designs. For many artists, including graphic designers, developing a portfolio—a collection of completed works that demonstrates their styles and abilities—is essential because employers rely heavily on a designer's portfolio in deciding whether to hire the individual.

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, offer courses intended to keep the skills of their members up to date.

Other Experience for Graphic Designers

Graphic designers often gain their initial experience through internships. Internships provide aspiring graphic designers an opportunity to work with designers and to experience the design process from concept to completion, in some cases while completing a design program.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Graphic Designers

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 for Graphic Designers

Experienced graphic designers may advance to chief designer, art director, or other supervisory positions.

Important Qualities for Graphic Designers

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 consumers to ensure they convey the client's desired message.

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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 computer programs.

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 certain message 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 Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for graphic designers is $50,710. 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 $31,310, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $98,260.

The median annual wages for graphic designers in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Specialized design services $58,610
Advertising, public relations, and related services $52,050
Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers $44,540
Printing and related support activities $39,090

Graphic designers' schedules can vary depending on workload and deadlines.

Those 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 for Graphic Designers[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of graphic designers is projected to grow 3 percent over the next ten years, slower than the average for all occupations.

Despite limited employment growth, about 24,800 openings for graphic designers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment of Graphic Designers

As companies continue to increase their digital presence, graphic designers may be needed to help create visually appealing and effective layouts of websites and social media sites. However, a decrease in print newspapers and magazines may limit employment growth for graphic designers who create advertisements for companies and products.

Employment projections data for Graphic Designers, 2021-31
Occupational Title Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31
Percent Numeric
Graphic designers 265,000 271,800 3 6,800
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Careers Related to Graphic Designers[About this section] [To Top]

Art Directors

Art directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions. They create the overall design of a project and direct others who develop artwork and layouts.

Craft and Fine Artists

Craft and fine artists use a variety of materials and techniques to create art for sale and exhibition. Craft artists create handmade objects, such as pottery, glassware, textiles, and other objects that are designed to be functional. Fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators, create original works of art for their aesthetic value, rather than for a functional one.

Desktop Publishers

Desktop publishers use computer software to design page layouts for newspapers, books, brochures, and other items that are printed or published online.

Drafters

Drafters use software to convert the designs of engineers and architects into technical drawings. Most workers specialize in architectural, civil, electrical, or mechanical drafting and use technical drawings to help design everything from microchips to skyscrapers.

Industrial Designers

Industrial designers develop the concepts for manufactured products, such as cars, home appliances, and toys. They combine art, business, and engineering to make products that people use every day. Industrial designers consider the function, aesthetics, production costs, and usability of products when developing new product concepts.

Special Effects Artists and Animators

Special effects artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.

Technical Writers

Technical writers, also called technical communicators, prepare instruction manuals, how-to guides, journal articles, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily. They also develop, gather, and disseminate technical information through an organization's communications channels.

Web Developers

Web developers design and create websites. They are responsible for the look of the site. They are also responsible for the site's technical aspects, such as its performance and capacity, which are measures of a website's speed and how much traffic the site can handle. In addition, web developers may create content for the site.

More Graphic Designer Information[About this section] [To Top]

For more information about graphic design, visit

AIGA

Graphic Artists Guild

Society for Experiential Graphic Design

For more information about art and design and a list of accredited college-level programs, visit

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National Association of Schools of Art and Design

A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.


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