This guide is designed to help you better understand the graphic designer market, including what kinds of roles are available in the current job market.
We rely on the internet to do pretty much everything today. In addition to shopping and banking online, we can also go to school and work for a living and from anywhere with a laptop, digital device, and an internet connection.
As a result, the internet has also sparked new career paths and job opportunities, including software development, digital media and marketing, blogging and writing, and SEO.
Although one could argue graphic design in one form or another has been around for centuries, it is a particular career path that has grown substantially since the dawn of our digitally-driven era.
By today’s definition, a graphic designer transforms an idea or message into a visual or artistic concept for a specific purpose or audience. To be more precise, graphic design is defined as:
A craft where professionals create visual content to communicate messages. By applying visual hierarchy and page layout techniques, designers use typography and pictures to meet users’ specific needs and focus on the logic of displaying elements in interactive designs, to optimize the user experience.“The Interaction Design Foundation
Education for Graphic Designer Jobs
Most aspiring graphic designers want to understand the educational requirements and qualifications needed to become a professional.
With the profession becoming incredibly popular and needed by most companies, many institutions have designed degree programs specific to this area of focus. Many professional graphic designers began a career in graphic design by earning a degree in the following areas:
- Animation and Special Effects
- Commercial and Advertising Art
- Digital Arts
- Industrial and Product Design
- Studio Arts
- Web Development
There are plenty of institutions that offer graphic design programs. If you’d like to earn a degree from a school with “the best” graphic design program, Animation Career Review listed their top Bachelor’s and Associate programs in the country in 2021. The top programs on this list include:
- Rhode Island School of Design – Rhode Island
- ArtCenter College of Design – California
- School of Visual Arts – New York
- The New School’s Parson School of Design – New York
- Pratt Institute – New York
Regardless of the college or university you decide to enroll in, the coursework typically includes the following:
- Graphic design studio
- Graphic design techniques
- History of graphic design
- Photoshop for designers
- Production design
Though many professionals earned a Bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field (as mentioned above), many continue their education and receive a Master’s degree. In fact, according to zippia.com, only 3 percent of graphic designers earned a Master’s degree, while 68 percent earned a Bachelor’s degree. Expanding your education in graphic design will certainly position you higher among other applicants.
Graphic Designer Jobs Outlook
One of the benefits of working as a graphic designer is the growing need for talented artists. Many companies hire graphic designers for websites and branding, creating digital and print advertisements, and more. Becoming a graphic designer is a great way to put your creativity to use and turn it into a blossoming, riveting career.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 250,000 open graphic design positions in 2020. And that number is expected to increase into the year 2030.
A career in graphic design can earn you job opportunities in the following fields:
- Marketing and advertising
- Public relations
- Industrial design
Another great aspect of a career in graphic design is the opportunity to work as an independent contractor with specific clients or on particular types of projects.
Graphic Designer Salary
So what does an annual salary look like for a professional graphic designer?
In addition to skillset, many factors determine a professional’s annual salary, such as experience, qualifications, geographic location, and organization type.
According to ZipRecruiter, here are the average annual salary ranges for different graphic designer positions:
- Entry-level Graphic Designer – $30,000 – $40,000
- Mid-level Graphic Designer – $45,000 – $55,000
- Senior-level Graphic Designer – $65,000 – $75,000
Graphic design can be a very collaborative role. It often involves working with marketing and other design teams. Although many companies tend to group teams of graphic designers to enhance collaboration, many graphic designers are fully remote, contractors, or independent workers.
Graphic Designer Job Descriptions
There are plenty of positions that fall under the umbrella of graphic design. Here are some similar positions related to graphic design and average salaries:
- Creative Director ($120,000 – $130,000): The Creative Director is in charge of ensuring projects are on track to be completed accurately and on time. Typically based on a client’s creative brief, the end goal for a creative director is to make sure the project is hitting the end mark and meeting the client’s expectations from a project management perspective and an art and branding direction.
- User Experience (UX) Designer ($90,000 – $100,000): The UX Designer focuses on a user’s digital experience, such as using an application, website, product, process, or service. Usually leveraged in web design, UX designers also ensure that digital products and services are visually appealing, simple to use, and provide an enjoyable experience for end-users.
- Production Artist ($50,000 – $60,000): A production artist can typically work within various areas, including graphics, film, art, or other formats. This artist’s main priority is to ensure accuracy throughout a specific project’s life cycle and accomplish the original goal. They are also responsible for final touches such as cropping, retouching, and repositioning.
- Multimedia Illustrator ($55,000 – $65,000): The multimedia illustrator produces graphics and illustrations based on sketches, photographs, or graphic files. They are responsible for any illustrations needed for specific projects such as manuals, advertisements, brochures, and other forms of media.
- Product Developer ($60,000 – $70,000): A product developer is responsible for leading the creation of products. They perform various tasks such as research, illustration, creation, and presenting the product to key stakeholders.
Where to Find Graphic Designer Jobs
You will have no problem finding graphic design jobs on the usual job boards, such as LinkedIn, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and Glassdoor. They are great platforms to see who’s hiring, average salaries, employee reviews, and other helpful information. However, these job boards can become saturated with job postings and applicants, making it difficult to determine which position or company is right for you and get anyone to look at your portfolio.
With graphic design being a highly-desired position, many resources are explicitly dedicated to graphic designers. Here are some popular job boards to check out in your search for the perfect graphic design position:
- dribbble – Dribbble is a top destination for creative professionals to demonstrate their work, find employment, and collaborate with other artists and professionals.
- AIGA The Professional Association For Design – Not only is AIGA a useful job board for professionals, but it also is a great resource to find tricks of the trade, attend events and webinars, and become a member of a community of creative professionals.
- Behance – Behance is a unique resource for graphic designers of any experience level. In addition to being a helpful job board, it is a place for designers to display their work, interact with other professionals through live streams, and collaborate on different projects.
Graphic Designer FAQs
A graphic designer is someone who transforms ideas and messaging into visual concepts based on specific specs and guidelines. They apply layout techniques, typography, pictures, and other graphical elements to communicate a specific idea, message, or certain look and feel.
In addition to skillset, many factors determine a professional’s annual salary, such as experience, qualifications, geographic location, and organization type. According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary ranges for graphic design positions look like this: entry-level graphic designer $30,000 to $40,000; mid-level graphic designer $45,000-$55,000; senior-level graphic designer $65,000-$75,000.
Earning a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field is common. Graphic designers also earn degrees in animation and special effects, commercial and advertising art, digital arts, industrial and product design, photography, studio arts, or web development. Most graphic designers hold a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field. However, earning a master’s degree will put you one step ahead.