Graphic Designers

This article acts as an extensive career guide that elaborates on the career path of graphic designers, the job outlook, salaries, qualifications required and much more.

Updated by Rakshitha.N on 30th September 2020

What do they do: A graphic designer is a skilled and creative professional who visualizes the concepts and design ideas to communicate ideas, information to captivate customers.

Working environment: Graphic designers usually work in studios, office settings, and indoors. Also, they are hired in a number of settings such as advertising, public relations, printing, newspaper, and related services.

How to become: A graphical designer requires an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field in addition to an effective portfolio that represents your work and skills. 

Salary offered: The median salary offered for a Graphic Designer is about $75,003 and can range between $47,473 and $102,533. 

Career Outlook: The job growth of graphic designing careers is about 3% as estimated by the BLS however it varies based on the industries. 

Similar careers: With a number of opportunities within the graphic designing industry, learning the latest software and a strong portfolio will help in getting exposed to various similar careers in the field.

Top Graphic Designing Jobs

Multimedia Designer

Multimedia designers are creative professionals who involve in advertisements, informational videos and creating content for online and for television platforms. They use creativity in combining text, audio, animation, photography, and video for their content work. The average salary of a multimedia designer is about $75,003. 

Web Designer

A web designer is one who constructs the website structure, its appearance, and the interaction with the user through images, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Also, web designers have ideas about pleasing color palettes and aesthetics, the average salary offered is about $65,035.

Logo Designer

A logo designer is one who creates branding used to symbolize a particular brand or product by identifiable graphics and typography. They create logos that are visually pleasing and require a bachelor’s degree in graphic design. The average salary expected in this profession is about $60,669. 

What do Graphic Designers Do?

A graphic designer is a skilled and creative professional who visualizes the concepts and design ideas to communicate ideas, information to captivate customers. They also develop the production layouts and design applications including advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports which can be handmade or using computer software. The roles and responsibilities also include, 

  • Understand the concepts and ideology of the clients and help in designing the logos, original images, and illustrations.

  • Design images, advertisements, and layouts to deliver the desired information

  • Use the knowledge of color palettes and design the layouts and logos for clients.

  • Meet clients and art directors to understand the concepts of the project to deliver performance better

  • Efficient use of digital illustration, photo editing software, and layout software to create designs

  • Prepare and present the design concepts to clients or art directors

  • Create meaning in the design which attracts the customers 

  • Create alternative designs before submitting a final design

  • Incorporate the changes recommended by clients or art directors to design effectively.

  • Create interactive content through animations, artistic or decorative effects.

  • Use the idea of advertisements, brochures, and other marketing communications materials to convey informative ideas

  • They choose the right use of words, paragraphs, tables for creating content

  • Work closely with writes where the statistical data can be transformed into visual graphics and diagrams.

  • Specialize in the field of experiential graphic design

Working Conditions of Graphic Designers

Graphic designers usually work in studios, office settings, or at home as a self-made worker. The working conditions depend on where they work, although most designers work independently.

With more than 290,100 Graphic designers currently working, the employers who hire the most graphic designers are,

  • Self-employed workers: 22%

  • Specialized design services: 10%

  • Advertising, public relations, and related services: 8%

  • Printing and related support activities: 7%

  • Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers: 5%

The working conditions are detailed further as follows,

  • Graphic designers work in studios and mainly in indoor spaces

  • They collaborate with architects, industrial designers, landscape architects, interior designers to create interactive design environments.

  • Travel often to meet clients, art directors and the workplace

  • Use drafting tables, computers, and the software necessary to design

  • Have a high level of interaction with art directors, supervisors, and clients.

  • Communicate through email, telephone, in-person discussions

  • Work in teams as a part or individually

  • Work part-time or full-time based on the type of work

  • Set daily tasks, goals, and priorities to meet accuracy.

  • Can extend the work schedule to work during holidays, evenings, or weekends to meet the deadlines. 

How to Become a Graphic Designer?

A graphical designer requires an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field to complete education requirements for the profession. The candidates pursuing the graphic designing career are extremely competitive and creative where their originality in professionalism comes through building a great portfolio that features their best work and designs. 

The procedure to be followed to become a successful graphic designer is to.

  • Acquire an associate's or bachelor's degree in graphic designing

  • Learn designing software or gain specialization

  • Build a unique portfolio

  • Land on a job

Another great way to land on a graphic designer’s profession is to self-learn where you can get instructions through online courses, that is, an online graphic design degree. The degree gives you a great level of flexibility, affordability, and also time-saving with a wide range of specialization. To narrow your focus, you could choose self-taught graphic design training such as Lynda or NetTuts.

Educational requirements for Graphic Designers

The education requirements to become a graphic designer is usually an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in graphic designing or a relevant field. 

Your interest to become a graphic designer begins while you're still at high school where you take up the basic art and design courses which increases your imagination and artistic ability.

An associate’s degree is a 2 years program which offers surface-level education on a diverse course for an entry-level job. It offers 60 credits where you complete coursework on design fundamentals, introduction to typography, color theory, and web designing.

A bachelor’s degree is the most preferred education level where students have the option to choose

  • Bachelor’s of Arts(BA)

  • Bachelor’s of Science(BS)

  • Bachelor’s of fine arts in graphic arts(BFA)

The coursework completed in 120 credits is Production of the digital and print environment, media management in digital design, graphic designer as an entrepreneur, portfolio development. 

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design is an accrediting body that accredits about 350 postsecondary colleges, universities, and independent institutes with programs in art and design. The courses offered include studio art, principles of design, computerized design, commercial graphics production, printing techniques, and website design.

Students can also develop skills in writing, marketing, business, and project management. 

In addition to the education requirements, it is necessary to build a professional portfolio that includes a collection of completed works that demonstrates their styles and abilities in graphic design.

Gaining trained and specializing in certain fields will advance your career, some common specialties include:

  • Typography

  • Desktop Publishing

  • Branding and Advertising 

  • Email Blasts and eNewsletters

  • Interface or User Experience Design

  • Web Design

  • Product Packaging

  • Book Design

  • Logos

  • Print or Web Production

  • Computer animation         

  • Video game design

  • Multimedia specialist

  • Interior design

  • Production design

  • Illustration

  • 3D animation

Certifications for Graphic Designers

Gaining experience is the initial requirement that makes you become qualified. Experience can be gained through internships and training programs. Attending an internship will give you hands-on experience in designing, to form professional relationships, building an effective portfolio is preferred by the industry professionals. 

Professional organizations also offer certifications with specializations which demonstrate your 

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Graphic Designers level of competence.

Stand Out Skills for Graphic Designers

As graphic designing is a profession which requires you to be an artist as well as process other skills to stand out in this career, they are listed below,

Visual literacy: As a graphic designer, you must be effective to communicate visually and convey ideas and thoughts in the form of graphical design and pictures. Hence you must have the knowledge of using the right design to convey the ideology behind.

Authenticity: With the knowledge and skills you acquired, you have the ability to create your own expression which is original. You must develop the skills to innovate new ideas that originate a signature style to express aesthetics.

Creative thinking: this profession calls for creative and artistic thinking, hence you must be able to solve problems by providing solutions in creativity. The client approaches you with a problem, you must think and innovative ideas with practical proficiency.

Communication: As a graphic designer, you must visualize the extraordinary to be presented as a design, this comes with effective communication and collaboration with teammates, clients, and colleagues.

Technical knowledge:  You must be aware of the latest graphic software and be up-to-date with the technologies to ease your work and also to enhance them with new features. Technical knowledge and software also help you to gain higher positions and advance your career better.

Top University Programs for Graphic Designers

  • Rhode Island School of Design.

  • Yale University.

  • Art Center College of Design.

  • California College of the Arts.

  • Maryland Institute College of Art.

  • Virginia Commonwealth University.

Graphic Designers Salary

In 2020, The median salary offered to a regular position in Graphic Designing is about $75,003 and can range between $47,473 and $102,533 depending on your skills, creativity, education, certifications, and experience in the field. Breaking down the salary offered,

  • 10th percentile: $30,810

  • 25th percentile: $47,473

  • 50th percentile (median): $75,003 

  • 75th percentile: $89,210

  • 90th percentile: $102,533

To elaborate, the top industries and the median wage paid by them are listed below,

  • Advertising, public relations, and related services: $54,320

  • Specialized design services: $54,150

  • Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers: $43,950

  • Printing and related support activities: $41,290

The average salaries offered can also vary based on the positions you work for in the graphic designing industry, they are,

  • Senior graphic designer – $65,000

  • Web/graphic designer – $49,874

  • Junior graphic designer – $42,322

  • Graphic design technical director – $132,913

  • Motion graphics designer – $64,750

  • Graphics designer/animator – $127,898

  • Graphic design specialist – $55,000

  • Association graphic designer – $53,602.

Job Growth of Graphic Designers

As projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average job growth of Graphic designing careers is about 3 percent during the period of 2018 to 2028 which is slower than the average job growth of other occupations. The job opportunities created for graphic designers in 2018 were about 290,100 and it is estimated to increase to about 299,000 by the end of 2028 with a growth of 3%. This means during the period of 2018-2028, there will be additional opportunities created to about 8,800. 

However, the projected growth will vary from one industry to another,

  • Graphic designers in newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publisher: 22%

  • graphic designers in computer systems design: 20%

The employment in companies that require web-based graphics production, portable devices, and video entertainment will continue to have a high demand for graphic designers. 

Related Careers for Graphic Designers

With the degree you earned to become a graphic designer will help you explore alternative career opportunities, go through this to know more.

Industrial designer

An Industrial designer designs the products to be manufactured which includes cars, toys, appliances and everything with the estimation of its life cycle. They work in diverse fields such as designing, business, engineering incorporated in the product they design. They are more concerned with the user experience and the value of the product they design. This profession requires the candidate to have a bachelor's degree in industrial design and the average salary offered is about $60,549 per year.

Interior designer

An interior designer is expressed in designing the indoor spaces for aesthetics, safety and enhancing the functions. They also work on the requirement of the decoration items that can make space appealing such as by determining the color, lighting, materials and accessories. This requires you to earn a Bachelor's degree and certification and this job fetches a salary ranging between $42,000 to $68,000 per year.


An animator is a professional who creates images that play as frames and gives an illusion of the images being animated. The job opportunities for the animator could be vast such as working with media, television, films, video could earn an average of  $63,970 annually.

Film and Video editor

The film and video editor is a highly skilled professional who works in the film industry to edit the footage, recordings where the film's success depends on. Hence this job requires you to have a bachelor's degree and work experience to gain this job. You could earn a salary of about $59,000 to $84,000 per year.

Fashion designer

A fashion designer is a creative artist who works on sketching the clothing and accessories according to the trends. Their role includes selecting suitable fabric, trims, and colors with the fitting and adjustments of the blueprints of the design. You are required to earn a bachelor's degree in fashion for this job and you could earn a salary of about $40,000 to $86,000.