Career Profile: What do Graphic Designers do?
Graphic designers use a sophisticated level of design to create advertising, illustration, logos, websites, and other visual materials for their clients. These trained professionals work alone or in teams, under the supervision of art directors and alongside copywriters, to generate interesting, unique images for their client base.
The most successful graphic designers pair their creative ability with technical knowledge and a professional level of communication. Because about 25 percent of graphic designers are self-employed, business skills as well as creativity are important.
A Day in the Life of a Graphic Designer
The individual duties of graphic designers depend highly on their job descriptions. For those who are self-employed, the job can change on a week-by-week basis, with a number of projects requiring daily attention one week, and a lack of work the next. Wage-and-salary graphic designers generally have a more stable work week, although deadlines and other requirements can lead to a work week that exceeds 40 hours.
Graphic Designer Training and Education
Bachelor’s or associate’s degrees are popular requirements for many graphic design jobs. Typical coursework for graphic designers includes typography, digital design, drawing, interactive design, and graphic form. Students can also receive targeted education in design programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, and Quark. Completing design projects in school helps graphic designers build their portfolios, the body of work they show to prospective employers and clients.
Continuing education is also a factor for graphic designers, as increasingly sophisticated technology makes certain programs and practices obsolete. Certificate and coursework programs allow designers to take one-off courses and short-form training classes on a short-term basis.
Graphic Designer Employment & Outlook
About 261,000 graphic designers were employed in 2006, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A projected 26,000 jobs are set to enter the industry through 2016, suggesting an industry wide growth about as fast as the average for all occupations. The expansion of the Web and video entertainment markets is expected to account for much of the growth.
Graphic designers with experience in Web design and animation are expected to have the best job prospects in the coming years. Still, keen competition is expected for this desirable job.
Typical Graphic Designer Salary
The federal government paid the highest wages, with annual mean earnings of $67,960. Graphic designers working for the motion picture and video industries also saw high earnings, at $62,070. Those working in New York and California saw some of the nation’s highest earnings for graphic designers, with earnings of $55,180 and $52,720, respectively.