Through hand drawings or computer software, graphic designers convey concepts visually with strategic use of images, color or logo designs in order to promote a product or idea. Anywhere that an individual or an organization needs to convey a message, you will likely find a graphic designer at work to help get the message to the target group. Although graphic designers are typically employed by advertising or marketing firms, they can also be found working for schools, non-profit organizations, and the government. Discovering more about what graphic designers do and the education required can be your first step toward an artistic and increasingly popular career.
Designing Your Education: Campus or Online Graphic Design Degree?
Employers typically ask that graphic designers have a two-year associate’s degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree. A four-year degree is generally preferred and might give you an edge in the employment market. Traditional daytime programs at ground campuses are widely available. However, there are also many online graphic design degree programs, which offer partly-online or fully-online formats for those who wish to continuing working while earning their degree.
In your graphic design program, you might take classes like graphic design history, contemporary issues in design, color theory, graphic design processes, typography, web design, digital layout, and interactive media. Colleges for graphic design typically also give you the opportunity to build your portfolio—something that employers almost always ask for when interviewing graphic design applicants. This portfolio can demonstrate not only your artistic skill, but also knowledge of relevant computer software.
After Your Graphic Design Program
Along with your graphic design courses, a graphic design career typically requires an artistic ability for creating ideas that will appeal to clients. Technical skills are also helpful for using graphic software programs, and strong interpersonal skills are advantageous for communicating with clients and translating their needs into strategic designs.
When meeting with a client, the graphic designer will typically ask the client questions about the message that the client wants to convey. The graphic designer and the client might discuss specific strategies, aspects of the intended audience, and the scope of the project. Next, the graphic designer will usually create images that reflect the client’s desire to either convey a message or identify a product. While the graphic designer might create an initial sketch by hand, they will almost always use computer software to refine the design into a digital format that can then be used to create other items such as packaging, advertisements, and publications.
Visualizing Your Future: Employment Projections
Graphic designers usually work full-time in office environments. They might advance their careers by taking management positions or opening their own design studio. Approximately one-third of all graphic designers are self-employed. In 2011, the median annual wage for graphic designers was $44,010.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for graphic designers are projected to grow about as fast as average in the coming decade at a rate of 13%. However, there are vast differences between industries. Graphic designers in printing and publishing will likely see no growth or even decline, while employment for graphic designers working in computer systems design and other related services is expected to grow by 61%, which is a rate that is much faster than average. Due to this, prospects will generally be best for those with interactive media and website design experience.
Discovering the answer to the question, “What do graphic designers do?” can help you get started with a creative career. If you think you have what it takes to create visual representations that are used to inspire or inform target groups, start exploring campus or online graphic design schools to find one that is the right fit for you.