How to Become a Graphic Designer

This article provides in-depth information into What is a Graphic Designer? What Graphic Designer do? Degrees for Graphic Designer, Steps to become Graphic Designer and much more.

What does a graphic designer do?

Graphic designer is a creative expert who works on the visual communication for corporations, entertainment industry, the government and nonprofit organizations with the designing of informative designs, layouts, for the purpose of advertisement, brochures, magazines, reports and many more. 

A graphic designer may work at an organization or collaborate as teams or work as an independent while specialising at Typography, Desktop Publishing, Branding and Advertising, Web Design, Product Packaging, Book Design, Logos.

The roles of graphic designer include,

  • Develop product design and logo for the organisation

  • Develop layouts and give visual presentation

  • Meet the art directors and other artistic professionals to innovate new ideas 

  • Use designing softwares to enhance the image or concept

  • Collaborate with teams and gain unique ideas to come with a final design

  • Get client feedback and implement the final design

Graphic designer salary

According to the BLS 2020, the average salary offered for a graphic designer at the United States is about $74,443 and it ranges between $47,125 to $101,761 which depends on the potentials of the candidate, education, certification, additional skill, amount of experience.

However the earning of a self employed graphic designer is estimated to be $20,000 per year .

Job growth

As stated by the BLS, the job growth of a graphic designer is estimated to be increased by 7 percent in the period of 2012 to  2022 but it is lesser compared to the average growth of the job. The employment opportunity is reducing due to the decrease in print media and development of digital media.

However the job rates may increase to graphic designers who are skilled in designing using the computer system and web-based graphics may increase up to 35 percent with an additional job opening of 17,400.

Steps to become a Graphic designer

To obtain the position of a graphic designer in an organization, there are  few requirements. To increase your employability and gain higher earning potentials, you must go through the following steps.

Step 1- Earn a degree in Graphic designing

You could choose a bachelors or associate's degree to gain the necessary skills related to the design, technology and communication. This includes the coursework such as studio art, principles of design, commercial graphics, web design, advertising and graphics-related computer technology with the knowledge on softwares such as Adobe Creative Suites.

This not involves a formal education but also hand on experience with the internship programs and students can choose online courses according to their convenience.

Step 2- Gain experience from internship

An internship program to convert and learn the theoretical concepts into a practical experience. This helps students to work with professionals who can guide and supervise your work. Many colleges offer an internship program to students which helps them build networks and relationships with professionals, and design presentations to develop a portfolio.

Step 3- Create a portfolio

If you are a graphic designing student pursuing a degree program, you must build a portfolio which is an integral part of the program. A portfolio is a demonstration of work including all the necessary designing skills, graphic software knowledge, effectiveness in communication and efficiency in work. When you want to get a job, you must submit your portfolio with the resume. Hence you must invest time on creating an effective portfolio to stand out among the applicants.

Step 4- Land on a job

After building an effective portfolio and gaining skills in the field, you now strive to earn your dream job. After landing on the job you start working on the advancement of your career by being up-to-date on the skills, software and the latest technologies.

You could also pursue a Master’s degree such as MA or MFA to advance in the theoretical knowledge and creativity in work.

Type of degree available for a Graphic designer

Before you pursue your career path,  you must have knowledge on what careers paths are available and if they align with your long-term and short-term goals. Here are degrees you could choose to become a graphic designer.

Associate’s degree in Graphic arts: The associate’s degree in graphic arts is a two years course which gives you 65 credits to complete. It contains both the arts and general courses such as design theory and technology, typography, color theory, computer graphics, electronic imaging, and print/digital production. You are also given the option to easily transfer credits to the bachelor's degree and hence this acts as a stepping stone for the four year program.

Bachelor's degree in Graphic arts: The bachelor's degree is a four year program that offers 120-180 credits hours to students which include the general education, core courses on graphic arts and electives. It is a program to provide knowledge to students on interactive design, typography, and motion graphics.

Masters degree for Graphic designer: The master's degree is a two-year course and chosen by students who want to advance their knowledge in designing and graphic softwares. There are two options for you in the masters degree,

  • Masters of Arts (MA): This is an advanced degree for students offered to specialize in the specific topics. Usually chosen by candidates who are interested in teaching or researching.

  • Masters of Fine Arts (MFA): This is a professional degree for graphic students who prefer to research and explore various fields of graphic technology. A student graduating from MFA uses their portfolio and projects to get higher-earning jobs and communicate with the world or demonstrate the new skills acquired by them. 

Online schools for graphic design: The online schools in graphic arts may offer degrees in the same names such as the AA,BA, MFA but the courses offered might not be similar to the traditional degrees. This offer affordable private training with flexible study hours according to the convenience of the students

For example a student is gaining work experience at an internship and enrolled for an online master's degree, the degree is earned simultaneously, hence this benefits students with saving time and money.

Concentrations to be considered by a graphic designer

Here are some courses studied by the students pursuing the career of Graphic designer a different degree level,

Associate’s degree in Graphic arts

 In the two year course, formal training is provided for an entry-level job. Thee courses studied by students are,


This course includes the principles of graphic design, the effective communication tools, application of the design elements and working with the image-making and other practices.

Skills acquired:

  • Learn the application and principles of graphic practices

  • Understand the application of lines, colors, textures, shapes, values, and white space in graphic designs

  • Working with the color and shapes to design


The course helps students to understand the visual form of language and have control on the information it can convey. Students also learn how the letter form can be used in name, brands, logo or personality.

Skills acquired:

  • Basic skills on the style and fonts on the texts in letterforms.

  • Understand on how the letters can affect the understand of the audience


This course is to study the color, cultural impact it makes on the psychological levels and the color interaction.

Skills acquired:

  • Understand the color effects on the psychology

  • Color theory on the print, web, multimedia, and hand-held devices.


This course gives an introduction to the use of softwares, web graphic design, interface design, maintenance and designing of the web.

Skills acquired:

  • Understand the graphic design methods for the digital projects

  • Learn the graphic and interface design software

  • Learn technical aspects on the web such as navigation, usability

Bachelor's degree in Graphic arts

In the four years program, the courses are divided into sections such as the core courses,general courses and electives which are chosen by you. Here the common courses are detailed below,


This course focuses on the technical concepts of production of print and digital output and also understanding the production of graphics for mobile devices.

Skills acquired:

  • Learn the industry-standard software and project management protocols

  • Experience on the designing concepts 

  • Learn the design softwares


This course provides knowledge on the study of history,evolution, communication tools, softwares developed and the impact of graphic software to become an entrepreneur and to build a successful enterprise.

Skills acquired:

  • Understand the real work problem to give a solutions with best practices

  • Understand Branding, marketing, building websites 


The portfolio plays an important role in the career of the graphic designer, this demonstrates the experience, skills known, the softwares and also the projects developed by you.

Hence this course teaches about the creation of an effective portfolio.

Skills acquired:

  • Develop a portfolio of projects that exhibits the skills and creativity you put on the projects

  • Give a demonstration of the experience, ideas , creativity through an effect portfolio

Job concentrations

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 the aesthetics, safety and enhancing the functions. They also work on the requirement of the decoration items that can make the 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 profession 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.

Stand out skills for a Graphic Designer

As graphic designing is a profession which requires you to be a artistic 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 the 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 originate a signature style to express the 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 in with practical proficiency.

Communication: As a graphic designer, you must visualise 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 about the latest graphic software's 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 helps you to gain higher positions and advance your career better.

Graphic Designer Salaries

Graphic Designer