How To Become A Graphic Designer

A graphic designer possesses inherent artistic ability and creativity. Since graphic designers these days now use computers to aid in their drawings, you will also need to be familiar and comfortable around computers and graphic design software. You must also be analytical so you can come up with the design that will best advance a client’s message.

Graphic design has long been considered once of the most consistent and reliable ways to make money as an artist. Graphic designers work in numerous different industries, creating visual concepts by hand or with the aid of computers. Their work may appear in magazines, product pamphlets, websites, and other forms. Graphic designers help companies and organizations to communicate their ideas to each other and to the public.

Why Become A Graphic Designer

A career as a graphic designer provides one of the more stable sources of income for those who are artistically-inclined. The sense of satisfaction that can be gleaned from doing something you love while being paid for it is also priceless. There is also a sense of fulfillment in knowing that your work is going to be used as the banner campaign of a company or a cover for a publication.

It is tough to start a career in graphic design these days, but still not as challenging as attempting to start a career as a fine artist. Graphic design has a practical purpose, and as a result, graphic designers are valued by companies. If you decide to go into this field, you will need to be highly focused and great at networking. Your skills at networking will be essential in helping you to find a position. You might also try working as a freelancer; many graphic designers enjoy taking on a variety of projects and working for themselves.

Graphic Designer Work Environment

Graphic designers work in the manufacturing, specialized design and publishing firms. Advertising, public relations and related services companies and wholesale trade companies also employ designers. They work in a studio which has drafting tables and computers to help make their designs. Self-employed graphic designers work at home, usually by themselves. However, salaried graphic designers may be part of a larger graphic design team. Those who collaborate with clients in different parts of the globe may need to work evenings or weekends.

If you decide to become a graphic designer, you could find yourself in a wide variety of work environments. Since graphic designers are required in all industries, you may find yourself working for a publishing company, advertising firm, PR firm, or even directly for a company. Generally, you will work in an office setting.

There is also a significant chance of becoming self employed. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly a quarter of all graphic designers worked for themselves. If you are self-employed as a graphic designer, you may sometimes commute to work on-site, and other times, you may work at home on your own computer and bid for contracts online.

Graphic Designer Salary

Graphic designers use their artistic skill to create advertising concepts that would convince potential customers to patronize a particular brand. It’s one of the occupations that would enable the artists at heart to gain stable income while doing something they enjoy. Graphic designers are paid well, with companies in the computer systems design industry projected to have high demand for these professionals in the coming years.

Starting out as a graphic designer can be tough, but there is also a lot of room for growth. These were full-time wages; most graphic designers employed by firms are full time. Some may be part time, particularly among the self-employed. Self-employed graphic designers need to be ready to spend extra hours looking for job opportunities and applying for different projects.

Average Graphic Designer Annual Salary


The average annual salary for graphic designers is $53,280 a year. Salaries start at $28,560 a year and go up to $83,140 a year.

Average Graphic Designer Hourly Wage


The average hourly wage for a graphic designer is $25.62. Hourly wages are between $13.73 and $39.97 an hour.

Stats were based out of 217,170 employed graphic designers in the United States.

Highest Paying States For Graphic Designers

Top Paying Cities For Graphic Designers

Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Graphic Designer Career Outlook

The employment of graphic designers from 2012 to 2022 is only expected to increase 7 percent. This is slower than the average for all job types. However, the employment rate will differ by industry. There will be a 16 percent decline in the employment of graphic designers in print media such as newspapers and magazines in that time period. However, the demand for graphic designers will be high in computer systems design and similar services with a projected employment growth rate of 35 percent. Competition for jobs will still be fierce.

Job outlook is one aspect of graphic design which is not so optimistic. While the pay is great for graphic design if you can break into the field, it is tough to get started. The field is growing at a rate of 7% according to the BLS. That is significantly slower than the average for all other occupations. Furthermore, it does not represent a lot of new openings, only around 17,400 between 2010 and 2020. That is a pretty finite number of positions in a field which is very popular. That means if you are thinking of becoming a graphic designer, you should prepare yourself to face some stiff competition.

Employment opportunities in some industries will be better than others. The rate of growth is the field of newspapers, periodicals, and directories will drop 16%, so that is not an area where graphic designers are going to be able to find jobs. In computer systems design, however, the BLS is projecting a growth rate of 35%, which is quite high. Again, that represents a rather small number of real life openings, but the data does help prospective graphic designers know where to look.

Graphic Designer Degree

A bachelor’s degree in graphic design or related field is necessary for one to gain a foothold in the industry. Those who hold a bachelor’s degree in another course may still become graphic designers but they may need to undergo technical training in graphic design. Graphic design programs also enable aspiring designers to create their own professional portfolio which showcases their skills. Potential employers will ask for this portfolio so it’s important for the student to come up with the best collection gleaned from their classroom projects, internships and other activities. To beef up their credentials, graphic designers may also get certified in graphic design software.

The best choice is to aim for a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field such as fine art or computer graphics. Some candidates may be able to enter into the field with a bachelor’s degree in another subject so long as they have the experience and portfolio to qualify for open positions. Still, with this field growing so slowly, it is best to pursue a graphic design degree. It is important for prospective designers to do all they can to make themselves competitive and stand out from the crowd.

There are more than 300 accredited universities and colleges offering graphic design programs in conjunction with the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Along with a degree, a portfolio is essential for landing jobs as a graphic designer. Potential employers want to see proof that a candidate can complete a task and produce top-notch results. So prospective graphic designers will want to save all of their best work and even take on extra projects in their personal time to build up that body of work. Certification is also available to students who want to demonstrate a higher degree of ability. Graphic designers with work experience may move up to higher-paying positions such as chief designer or art director.

Becoming a graphic designer is challenging in today’s world. The field is appealing to a huge pool of candidates, but opportunities are growing slowly. For an artist looking for a practical career, graphic design still represents a potentially lucrative and reliable option. To get started in this field and stay competitive, it is vital to have an accredited degree, a sterling portfolio, and excellent networking skills.

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