Graphic Design Career Opportunities

Graphic design has arguably existed since the time of cavemen when they produced images to share information and tell stories. While our conceptualization of graphic design has evolved significantly since then, using imagery to share a message remains as important as ever. Organizations, businesses, and schools all make use of a graphic designer’s technological skills and artistic vision to help them share their message and vision with their consumer base.

As a result of such a wide and varied need for the services of graphic designers, the field offers exciting opportunities for those who want to put their creativity and digital software skills to work. A career in graphic design offers a creative and fulfilling outlet for anyone who has a passion for bringing other’s ideas to life through imagery.

What Does Someone do in a Graphic Design Career?

The role of a graphic designer is to create visual concepts in order to communicate with and pique the interest of a consumer. Designers can work independently or as part of a team. They primarily fulfill client needs by merging their creative ideas with skills and techniques in image software in order to succinctly and attractively convey a message or brand. 

More specifically, there are many different types of projects that graphic designers might work on. From print media to solely digital work, one in this field might create:

  • Books or magazines
  • Brochures
  • Advertisements
  • Websites
  • Reports from organizations/companies
  • Visual branding, such as logos for businesses
  • Apparel
  • Clip-art

Graphic designers have many responsibilities regardless of the type of design they do. While there may be some variation in roles and tasks depending on where they work, many graphic designers work on projects from inception to publication. Therefore, someone working in this role will take on most if not all of the following duties:

  • Meet with clients and/or teams to determine the vision and scope of each project
  • Utilize various programs, including layout, editing, and illustration software, to create a product that is aligned with the client’s brand and image
  • Share the preliminary design with the client and/or team and solicit feedback
  • Update the design based on the feedback
  • Solicit final approval from the stakeholders and conduct a final evaluation of the project for errors prior to publishing

Level of Education for Graphic Design Career

Typically, a position in the field of graphic design requires a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. Most universities offer an undergraduate course of study in graphic design or a related field. Liberal arts colleges and technical schools typically offer these majors as well.

In some employment situations, though, a bachelor’s degree may not be necessary in order to work as a graphic designer. Particularly if one is self-employed and able to attract a client base primarily through their portfolio and reviews of previous work, they may be able to work without having achieved a bachelor’s degree.

Even if one does not need to have obtained an undergraduate degree to get started, they will require significant training in the various software programs that graphic designers use.  Additionally, affiliation with an accredited degree program will likely provide opportunities for internships and mentored experiences which can help build and develop experience and a portfolio to attract clients.

In addition to degree programs, there are other ways to learn and add skills to the resume. There are many single courses, especially online, that focus on more specific design software or techniques and culminate in a certificate. These courses can provide foundational skills for new designers and professional development opportunities for seasoned designers.

Graphic Design Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics [] data for 2019, graphic designers average about $56,510 per year in salary. Of course, this varies based on the geographic location and the pay at specific companies and organizations. States such as California and New York are among the highest paying and most employable in the field of graphic design.

Choosing a career as a graphic designer provides significant flexibility. Designers can be self-employed or work as part of a team at a firm or company. They can focus on one specific area of design or work with clients who require diverse forms of print or media. Additionally, a graphic designer is a job that can be done almost anywhere, especially in the age of remote video meetings, so working with clients or companies from around the country and world is feasible and will not always require relocation.

One side effect of the growing digital world is the number of people entering the field of graphic design. While the available software programs and techniques for manipulating images increases with technological advances, so does the population of twenty-first-century learners embarking upon degree programs to allow them to work in graphic design. Therefore, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs in this field will decrease by about 4 percent over the next decade. However, the direct impact of this competition for jobs will vary according to geographic location and type of work.