A career as a graphic designer is great for people with a flair for the arts, a steady hand, and a love of technology. Becoming a graphic designer in today’s tech field takes a great deal of training and education in design, colors, fonts, illustrations, hand drawings, the latest technological tools, and more.
A successful graphic designer uses a broad background of talent to create all sorts of items from presentations to printed materials to signage, as well as logos, white papers, book covers, pamphlets, infographics, blueprints, animated graphics, and many other types of materials for digital and print publication.
Graphic designers combine technical know-how with listening skills to produce amazing visuals for the satisfaction of their clients, supervisors, or project leads. Below, we will show you what it takes to become a leading graphic designer and thrive in a career you love.
Graphic Design Degree
As with many leading careers, you will first need to acquire the skills necessary to land a job. One option is to enroll in some formal graphic design education. The good news is that a wide range of options exists to choose from, including:
- Associate’s degree
- Bachelor’s degree in graphic design
- And even graduate degrees in graphic design
The first step in deciding which kind of graphic design degree is best is determining what kind of graphic design career you want. Study the different genres, salaries, requirements, and more.
The reason is that a motion graphics designer, for example, needs a different degree than an apparel graphics designer who needs a different degree than a video game graphics designer. You may even contact employers you are interested in to see their educational requirements for entry-level graphic design positions.
Narrow your list of schools to see which offer graphic design degrees in your area of choice and whether you prefer in-person, online, or a combination. Ask yourself if you meet the requirements to enter the school, such as high school achievements, GPA, SAT scores, extracurricular activities, etc. You should also research what kind of work their graduates do. Be sure to create an outstanding graphic design portfolio while in school to show potential employers.
How to Become a Graphic Designer
You are a step ahead if you have researched potential employers and what sort of education and degree they look for. Begin your research again by seeing which employers are hiring, what positions they offer, and which you are qualified for. Research can include going through your local classifieds, looking through online job boards, and regularly going to the desired employer’s website to see if they have posted new job opportunities.
The pathway to becoming a graphic designer is a progressive journey that may begin with an internship, apprenticeship, or even administrative position such as an assistant. While completing this work, you may also obtain certain professional certifications reflecting skills in graphic design that may be in demand by your employer. The goal is to become a professional graphic designer, and your presence at the company will show your determination and work ethic.
Graphic design certifications can help boost your career and can be done in person or online. A few that are currently in demand to begin or advance a career include:
- Adobe Certified Expert
- Certifications in other Adobe graphic design programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign
- Autodesk 3DS Max Certified
- OMG-Certified UML Professional
- Advertising Design Certification
- AutoCAD Certification
These certifications will allow you to build a design portfolio in that program to show and impress potential employers. Be sure to check the leading graphic design certifications often, as they tend to change from year to year. Your current employer may also even offer to pay for all or part of your certification cost.
Graphic Design Job Requirements
Now that you have a degree, certification, and amazing portfolio, you are ready to become a designer and land a job.
Today, a graphic design job in the tech field might include any of the following job responsibilities:
- Advanced knowledge of color and design fundamentals
- Ability to manipulate and enhance images
- Creation and editing of typography, fonts, etc.
- Concept and layout design
- Illustrating on digital platforms
- Interactive motion graphics
- Advertising materials and concepts
- Package, publication, or sign design
- Audio editing
- Video editing
- Web page editing
- An eye for emerging trends and technologies
Graphic Design Career Paths and Opportunities
Many companies within the tech field need graphic designers, from consumer apps to software companies and even to hardware companies. Below are modified examples of actual graphic designer job descriptions.
- Work with images to adjust, correct, or combine to create the desired image. Adjustments as simple as lighting and color balance changes to altering garment colors or removing tiny imperfections pixel by pixel. Requires complete knowledge of Photoshop and other Adobe Creative Cloud tools. Prefer an associate or bachelor’s degree in graphic design, photography, or product design.
- Multimedia design creates a series of complex animated images and videos through traditional art and computerized programs. Plan animation through sketches for approval, create scale models and develop graphics to build on the premise. Develop graphics for the characters, background, and props. Work in various fields, including screen, set design, and video production. Requires strong imaginative abilities and creative thinking to develop innovative designs. An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a visually creative field is required. Special consideration for candidates with previous experience or certifications producing videos and utilizing CAD software.
- Use graphic design experience to create visually compelling marketing materials for our brand. Create magazine ads, Google banners, ads, billboards, and other requested promotional materials. Take design from an initial concept based on marketing and public relations strategies to final, polished product- ready for publication. Requires strong knowledge of design and marketing techniques and a bachelor’s degree in graphic or visual design.
- Responsible for leading and guiding the graphic design team’s vision, directing all concepts, and overseeing all designs. Work in various mediums, including print publications, advertising, television, and promotional products. Work closely with sales and marketing teams to understand and visualize the artistic vision. Requires extensive experience in our industry with a strong understanding of our goals. A bachelor’s or graduate degree in an art or design field is needed, as are certifications in all utilized tools and software.
Graphic Designer Outlook and Salary
According to the most recent graphic design data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic designers earn an average annual base salary of $52,110. This figure does not include commissions, bonuses, and profit-sharing. In some cases, these can increase the salary by several thousand dollars per year. Additionally, these salaries can come with yearly bonuses from over $200 up to $5,000. Top specialized skills include Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Acrobat, and social media.
The career outlook for graphic designers varies by industry compared to all other occupations. For example, newspapers need fewer graphic designers while digital media needs more. As businesses continue to increase their digital presence, they will require graphic designers to create visually appealing and compelling images for media from websites to social media accounts to promotional videos.
Graphic designers will face strong competition for available positions, with many talented individuals applying for careers as graphic designers. It is essential to constantly keep up with the latest design trends, techniques, and technologies.