If you’re reading this story online, you’re seeing up close the influence of a graphic designer on the page’s look and feel.
In fact, take a glance around, and the work of a graphic designer is everywhere. That fast food company logo? Your desk chair? The layout of your car’s instrument panel?
A graphic designer likely had a hand in all of them. O*NET OnLine summarizes the role of a graphic designer thusly: “Design or create graphics to meet specific commercial or promotional needs, such as packaging, displays or logos. May use a variety of mediums to achieve artistic or decorative effects.”
More specifically, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) details typical job duties:
Meeting with clients or the art director to determine a project’s scope and advising clients on ways to reach a target particular audience
Determining the message and creating images that identify a product or convey that message
Developing graphics for product illustrations, logos and websites and selecting colors, images, text style and layout
Incorporating client-recommended changes into the final design and reviewing designs for errors
About 14% of graphic designers were employed by the manufacturing industry, with another 10% working for specialized design service companies. Newspapers and other print companies employed 9%, while advertising and public relations agencies comprised 8%. Another 5% were employed by wholesale trade companies.
How to become a graphic designer
Graphic designers need an artistic flair, including the ability to visualize how something will look with various pieces moved around and rearranged.
A strong sense of creativity is needed, as is the ability to use a computer and various software packages and programs. Knowledge of the fine arts can be useful, as can more tangible skills such as spelling and grammar.
In terms of education, a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a relate field is the usual pedigree. Coursework is likely to include principles of design, computerized design, studio art, website design, printing techniques and commercial graphics production.
Building a portfolio is a goal of many programs and can be accomplished through classroom work and internships
In addition, certification programs are available, which may prove appealing to employers.
A degree in graphic design opens up numerous options, according to Peterson’s, the college information provider.
“Graphic design offers a diverse choice of specialties, ranging from commercial and industrial design (cars, furniture, appliances, etc.) to advertising media (merchandising, marketing, Web design, newspapers and publishing),” Peterson’s wrote. “Of the more than half a million designer jobs in the United States, positions in graphic design comprise about 40 percent.”
Other related positions include creative director, fashion designer, marketing manager, senior art director and senior interior designer, according to PayScale.com. Those positions typically are for more-experienced workers; all have a median salary above $64,000.
Salary and outlook
Graphic designers earned a median salary of $46,900 in 2015, as per BLS data. The top 10% of employees in the profession earned $81,320.
The BLS calls for job growth between 2014 and 2024, which equates to 17,400 new jobs, and the agency noted that employment will vary sharply by industry. For example, while newspaper employment of graphic designers will fall 16%, the number hired by computer systems design companies will climb 35%.