Graphic Designer Career

graphic-designer-500Graphic designers are responsible for planning, analyzing, and creating electronic and print media in order to convey a desired message. They use type, color, animation, photography, illustrations, and different layout and print techniques available from computer software packages. In addition to developing the layout and design of newspapers, magazines, journals, and corporate reports, they create product packaging, marketing brochures, promotional displays, and signage. Many are now being asked to develop material for multimedia and interactive projects as well as web pages.

Graphic Designer Career Assessment

Take our Graphic Designer career assessment. This 30 question quiz let’s you know if you’re cut out for a career in as a graphic designer by analyzing your abilities, skills, and interests.

1. Can you figure out the best size and layout for material and copy along with the style and size of the font?

2. Are you OK communicating with clients to discuss what they need and want?

3. Can you create designs and sample layouts based on proper layout principles and design concepts?

4. Are you OK developing graphics and layouts for logos, web sites, and marketing materials?

5. Can you use computer software to create images and illustrations?

6. Do you have knowledge of design techniques involved in creating drawings and blueprints?

7. Do you have knowledge of media production and communication methods?

8. Do you have knowledge of the structure of the English language including the spelling of words and grammar?

9. Do you have knowledge of the theory and techniques required to produce visual arts?

10. Are you OK learning about electronic equipment, computer software, and programming?

11. Can you give your full attention to what others are saying?

12. Can you use logic and reasoning to approach problems?

13. Are you OK conveying information effectively?

14. Can you understand written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents?

15. Can you understand new information in problem-solving and decision-making?

16. Can you see details at close range?

17. Do you have the ability to develop creative solutions to problems?

18. Can you come up with a variety of ideas about a topic?

19. Do you have the ability to listen and understand information giving to you through spoken words and sentences?

20. Do you have the ability to communicate information in speaking so others will understand?

21. Are you OK thinking creatively throughout your workday?

22. Can you effectively get all the relevant data through observation?

23. Are you OK using computers and software to program, enter data, or process information?

24. Are you OK keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge over time?

25. Do you have the ability to prioritize and accomplish your work goals?

26. Are you OK using email to communicate each and every day?

27. Are you OK sitting on an almost continuous basis?

28. Can you handle having face-to-face discussions with individuals or a team almost every day?

29. Can you handle having telephone conversations almost every day?

30. Can you handle strict deadlines at least once a week if not every day?

Graphic Design Snapshot

Nearly 25% of all graphic designers are self employed, but many designers are employed by either large or small advertising, design consulting, or publishing firms.

Here are further details on graphic designer careers (statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Onet Online):


is the average earnings for graphic designers per year.


increase in employment between 2014 and 2024.


have a Bachelor’s degree in graphic design.

Graphic Design Education

Graphic designers often have Bachelor’s Degrees, but an Associate’s Degree may be enough for some technical positions.

Graphic Design Job Duties:

Graphic designers create visual messages or solutions for communication purposes. Graphic design employment offers specialization in print, electronic (such as online), and film media. Graphic designers may create magazine, web, brochure, and newspaper layouts.

Graphic Design Salaries:

According to the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey program, the middle 50 percent of all graphic designers earned between $27,560 and $81,320 annually.

Graphic Designer Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that graphic designer employment growth will be faster than the average for all careers between 2014 and 2024, at a rate of 21 percent. Graphic designers with animation and web design experience will find the most opportunities. Internet advertising growth is anticipated to lead to an increase in graphic design.

Graphic Designer Career

Graphic design career options are numerous. You could go into advertising and create various ads and promotional pieces for large companies. You can work as a photographer, utilizing your skills in digital photography and image manipulation. Many people also choose to build their graphic design careers in TV and cartoon animation or working in the film industry.

Becoming a graphic designer requires special skills and creativity. Here are a few skills that are needed:

Graphic Design Skill Set:Required Abilities:Tools Used by Graphic Designers:Typical Work Activities:
• Active Listening

• Operations Analysis

• Speaking

• Writing

• Critical Thinking

• Reading Comprehension

• Active Learning

• Coordination

• Originality

• Written Comprehension

• Fluency of Ideas

• Near Vision

• Written Expression

• Oral Comprehension

• Oral Expression

• Laser Printers

• Notebook Computers

• Photocopiers

• Scanners

• Still Cameras

• Thinking Creatively

• Interacting With Computers

• Getting Information

• Making Decisions and Solving Problems

Graphic Designer Insights

Click on a name below and review the full interview. Find out if the graphic design industry is a good fit for you.

Ned Yeung, Principal Creative at Media Mainline

Career Snapshot: Graphic Designer

Interview: Ned Yeung

Principal Creative at Media Mainline

6 years experience as a Graphic Designer


Were you always interested in graphic design?

I have always been interested in many aspects of Graphic Design, such as advertising, marketing, consumer behavior, branding, art, and communication. However, when I was younger, I had not thought to put these all together into one career with Graphic Design. 

It wasn’t until I went back to school as a mature student after years in Entertainment and Education, that it all seemed to fit together for me.


How did you become a graphic designer? 

My formal education was in the field of Digital Multimedia, encompassing general studies in all aspects of Media design, including print, web, video, and audio. I also challenged the world’s toughest examination in this industry, to become an Adobe Certified Expert. Since graduation however, my specialty fell very quickly into Print Design, where I immediately found my niche and my love.


What do you like best about graphic design?

I feel that design work is very rewarding. Most notably, I enjoy the feeling of gratification in seeing a job well done and published. I am very results-oriented, and take a lot of pride in my finished products.


What skills are most important?

The most important skills in Design include a sound knowledge of composition, typography, color theory, and communication concepts. Too many newcomers to this field attempt to circumvent this knowledge with effects and software competency, which does not go over well when put into actual production.


What is most challenging about being a graphic designer? 

The biggest challenge encountered in the production of design work is the poor quality of client-supplied content. It is very difficult to convince budget-conscious clients to pay us or others for professional photography, copy writing, or other content which is required for us designers to properly do our job. This creates a lot of extra work on the design end, which translates to a greater overall cost for the client, without the ability to produce the best quality deliverable at the end. This can be frustrating, even if we are being well paid for our work.

Julian Russi, Founder of

Julian Russi | Founder of

Graphic Designer since 2009

Why did you decide to get into the field of graphic design?

Back when I was in high school, I was really into computers, specially Macromedia Flash (now Adobe Flash) I was always creating animated presentations and just messing around with it. I also love drawing and copying famous brand logos, so you can say it was just a matter of time before I realized design was my thing.

How did you get into the profession?

I started studying Graphic Design in 2005 at Los Libertadores University (I’m originally from Colombia) I obtained my bachelor’s degree in 2009 and since then you can say Graphic Design has become an essential part of my life.

What do you like best about the profession?

I like the fact of being able to take people’s ideas and turn them into images. I know how frustrating it is to have a beautiful concept in your head and just being unable to transform it into a real product.

Now that I work as Marketing Manager for OfficeList, I’m always finding ways to incorporate my Design skills into my job, which is why I became part of the team who created the mobile site of the company. It’s great to have the chance to do some Design while focusing on Marketing.

What skills are most important for a career in graphic design? There’s a misconception that designers must be really good at illustrating. Truth is, you just need to have a very creative mind and the ability to leverage all the tools to produce beautiful graphic products. This transcends to other design fields such as Fashion Design and Industrial Design.

You also need to be able to connect with people’s needs, because being capable to understand what people really want is one of the main abilities any designer should have, we must become our clients’ therapists!

What is the most challenging thing about being a graphic designer?

We designers tend to see everything through pink-colored glasses, and from my current position as Marketing Manager, I have learned that there’s more than just making a nice logo and choosing the best typeface. You must understand that there’s a reason behind everything, why choosing Arial instead of Helvetica? How is this change going to increase our sales? Why should you spend time making an infographic about how cool your job is? How many leads is this going to generate?

Do you have any advice for those attending school or pursuing a career in graphic design?

Sure. Don’t focus on becoming the master of Photoshop, because you will probably never reach that goal (have you seen Dave Hill’s work?) Instead of that, try to become a thorough professional. Study new languages! (Every job that I’ve had has been thanks to the fact that I speak 3 languages) Learn programming (HTML and CSS skills can give you a head start when applying for a new job), and finally, remember that nothing works better than being original in everything you do.

Will McDonald, Designer at MacLean Financial Group

Will McDonald, Graphic Designer at MacLean Financial Group

Marketing & Graphics Design for 5 years

Why did you decide to get into the field of graphics design?

When I started college, I thought for sure I was going to be an aeronautical engineer. After a few semesters in engineering, I decided that it just was not for me; I needed something that provided more variety and constant change. Luckily I was enrolled in marketing and met so many professionals that loved and were passionate about what they do. Years later I am still in marketing and graphics design because I like delivering products to people who need them in a fun and interesting way. There is never a day that I do not look forward to going to work because of how dynamic our profession is. Plus, being in marketing offers unlimited growth potential in a variety areas of focus like social media, analytics, advertising, and content development.

How did you get into the profession?

Getting into marketing and graphics design was a pure accident as I mentioned above. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the University of Nevada of Reno, but my learning did not stop there. Our profession is notorious for change, which means we are always looking for learning opportunities. During my tenure in college, I was very fortunate to learn graphics design from Reno’s best designers. I have taken this skill with me to the corporate world, which has helped me go further in my career. Having skills in both marketing and graphics design in a city of our size is an explosive combination.

What do you like best about the profession?

Hands down, the best thing is interacting with clients. Social interaction was an important reason why I chose marketing over a career in engineering. Passion in marketing means that you have a deep desire to help others with the products you market. I love what I sell and more importantly, I love that my designs helps deliver this product to people who need it most. In my day-to-day activities, I get to talk with clients and they share with me how our service has made their lives dramatically better. That is what I thrive on!

What skills are most important for the graphic design profession?

  • Having the ability to adventure outside of your comfort zone. Both marketing and graphics design is exciting when you can think outside of the box, which translates into more creativity and greater profits.
  • Having a good understanding of math, particularly statistics. Math plays a critical role in our decision making process and lends credibility to our success.
  • Developing a passion for your industry and product. I’ve met so many marketing professionals that underperform simply because they see their careers as just a “job.” When they finally are fed up and switch companies or go into non-profit work, I almost always see a 180 degree change in their work.

What is the most challenging thing about the profession?

The most challenging aspect is the general lack of knowledge about marketing among outsiders of the profession. Some people see marketing as a tool to gain instant boosts in revenue. Marketing requires time, adjustments, and often a lot of work to gain the long-term results they are looking for.

Do you have any advice for those attending school or pursuing a career in graphic design?

  • Learn as much as possible and never stop educating yourself. When hiring, we almost always look for people with certifications and extra college under their belts. Consider taking the Professional Certified Marketing exam from the American Marketing Association once you have enough experience.
  • I would suggest making graphics design a second major in college or taking adult education courses on the subject. It has proven to be a very useful and desirable skill for me, even when I contract work out to other designers.
  • Internships early on in college for both marketing and graphics design will help you obtain a job easier after college.

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