How to Become a Graphic Designer
Graphic Designer Careers & Degrees

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A graphic designer creates artwork that is used in the corporate and private world.

Graphic designers work with companies, bands, government departments, and all kinds of businesses to help them with their needs.

They might be creating a logo, stationery, or a CD cover.

Graphic designers often work closely with other creatives in advertising, marketing, or copy writing.

To succeed as a graphic designer you will need a good knowledge of art and design history.

You will also need to have some talent yourself, and have good drawing skills, both freehand and with computers.

Interpersonal skills are important in graphic design, as you need to communicate well with clients, as well as with your colleagues.

If you have a creative personality, and love design, then you will likely enjoy becoming a graphic designer.

If you would like to spend your day coming up with great ideas then making them a reality then this may be a good career choice for you.

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Educational Requirements to Become a Graphic Designer

While there are no strict requirements to become a graphic designer, very few make it in the field without some kind of formal education.

If you’re still in high school, take art subjects, as well as computer courses.

Familiarize yourself with computer drawing programs as soon as you can, even if you need to do a course outside of school to do this.

Most graphic designers have a four year degree in the arts.

There are some courses which offer a major in graphic design.

Many employers will consider you if you have a degree in the fine arts and a strong portfolio to back it up, but courses in computer design are essential in today’s market.

You portfolio is going to be key in getting you a job, so it’s a good idea to start building it as soon as possible.

You will get many opportunities in college to do this, but you might also like to look at doing volunteer work or an internship while you are studying.

It’s likely your college will have publications that need design work, or there are bands, or other groups around, that would love you to help them out with posters or CD covers, or other art projects.

Graphic Designer Job Description

A graphic designer creates artwork for businesses.

It could be a simple logo, or a complex brand management project.

Most graphic designers work for small firms, advertising agencies, or are self-employed freelancers.

Much of a graphic designer’s time is spend in front of the computer at work.

They will also need to communicate with their clients, present their ideas, and meet with coworkers.

Freelance graphic designers will also spend a lot of time marketing their services and placing proposals on jobs.

Some of the tasks of a graphic designer could include:

  • Drawing sketches and ideas
  • Creating artwork
  • Presenting work to clients
  • Speaking with clients about their needs
  • Communicating with coworkers
  • Promotion and marketing
  • Placing proposals on new projects

Graphic Designer Salary and Career Path

Most graphic designers start their career working for a small firm or agency.

This is an industry where about one third of people are self employed, after a few years of experience, you may decide that you prefer to work for yourself.

Some large companies will hire a graphic designer to look after all of their needs for them, rather than continually be outsourcing work.

Many graphic designers go on to own their own firms, become freelancers, or become teachers.

Some work in similar industries later on, such as fashion design or textiles.

Some have other artistic interests that they decide to pursue instead of graphic design.

As an entry level graphic designer, you can expect to earn around $32,000 a year.

With a few years of work behind you, you could expect to make close to the average salary of $50,000.

The top graphic designers earn more than $70,000 a year.

Those who are freelance or own their own business have the capacity to make more.

If you enjoy art and design then a career as a graphic designer could be right for you.

Although no education is required to become a graphic designer, most find that they cannot find employment without it.

Finding a first job may be hard, but employment prospects are good after this.

Many graphic designers go on to own their own business or work freelance.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$79,450
New Hampshire$53,680
New Jersey$61,050
New Mexico$46,250
New York$66,870
North Carolina$52,320
North Dakota$44,240
Rhode Island$63,600
South Carolina$49,080
South Dakota$36,090
West Virginia$46,890
Puerto Rico$30,300

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $79,450.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $79,450
Washington - $72,200
Massachusetts - $68,170
New York - $66,870
California - $63,710
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Graphic Designers, OCC Code 27-1024, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat is a graphic designer?

A graphic designer is a communicator.

His main aim is to create visual concepts that will captivate consumers through words, graphics, and images.

A professional graphic designer should be able to combine technology and art.

They develop layouts, select the font (color, size…), decide how text and images go together…

Usually, the work of graphic designers is used in promotions and advertising.

They work with multimedia animators, artists, companies, and other creatives.

Graphic designers communicate with consumers through images, shapes, fonts, color, animation, billboards. photography, and logos.

The professionals should be able to communicate with clients, know how to use the latest technology, come up with interesting ideas, and know exactly how to bring them to life.

Graphic designers might specialize in a category of clients or on a particular category of work.

QuestionHow much do graphic designers make?

Graphic design can become a career that involves a lot of independent work.

Your salary will certainly be different in case you decide to work for yourself or to work for another employer.

The average graphic designer annual salary is around $47.000.

However, you can earn as little as $28.000 or over $79.000.

Design services firms usually pay around $54.600, while advertising firms pay a little less – $53.900.

If you are a graphic designer with a lot of experience, you can ask for a promotion and become a chef designer or an art director.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a graphic designer?

Earning a degree will help you open doors to plenty of working opportunities in the sphere.

Obtaining a bachelor’s degree on campus will cost you anywhere between $11.000 and $60.000 per year.

On average, students spend around $34.000 on school, books, supplies, and accommodation annually.

A great way to save a small fortune is to complete graphic design courses online.

Become a Bachelor of Fine Arts online for as little as $385-$420 per credit hour.

QuestionWhat is the demand for graphic designers?

All-in-all, the growth of the graphic designer market is estimated at 4%.

That is slower than the average growth across the majority of other occupations.

Around 11.000 new job positions will be created in the US in the next decade.

Bear in mind that the professionals that are working with computer systems design will be in higher demand.

There will be a drastic increase in online publishing and those who work for publishers might end up losing their job.

Get technologically prepared in order to be competitive in the job market.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a graphic designer?

If you are planning on earning a Master’s degree in Graphic Design, it will take you 6 years.

There are courses and programs that can be completed in as little as 6 weeks and some employers find that to be quite enough for an entry-level position.

You can end up with a Bachelor’s degree in 4 years.

However, you can always learn graphic design online and pick the pace that is suitable for you.

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