Graphic Design Jobs and Careers

Graphic designers communicate ideas through visual media, creating designs for a wide range of businesses and organizations. Working freelance or as part of a design team, they meet together with clients to plan briefs, source materials, produce concept designs and then create finalized design deliverables. Work is generally deadline based and requires that designers work within a limited budget and sometimes within specific branding guidelines. Most graphic designers have a flair for art and technology, as well as some formal creative software and design theory training, in the form of a graphic design degree or similar certification.

Most Common Job Titles and Descriptions

  • IN-HOUSE DESIGN JOBS

    Graphic Designers are hired by marketing departments, advertising agencies and larger corporations, where they work side by side with project, marketing, product, and IT staff to create designs for advertisements, websites, marketing material and a variety of projects and products. They are expert users of creative software programs like Photoshop, Adobe InDesign and Illustrator and may also use a range of digital marketing tools.

  • FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER

    Freelance designers generally work remotely, bidding for different projects on freelancing sites like Upwork.com and eLance.com, or are approached through personal websites, social media or via contacts from previous projects. Working remotely allows graphic designers to bid for projects all over the world, but this means they have to compete with non-US designers who are able to offer better rates.

  • CREATIVE DIRECTORS

    Senior graphic designers often go on to become creative directors. These directors craft a company’s creative strategy and are responsible for hiring and managing creative teams. They work within industries that include fashion, advertising, music, games, film, media, entertainment and web development.

Salary Statistics and Growth

For freelancers, pay depends on clients and workload, with rates starting at around $25 per hour. Graphic designers in full time roles can expect to earn between $30K and $60K. Creative directors earn anything from $40K to $160K, and Art Directors salaries range from $40K-100K. The median annual wage for graphic design careers in 2014 was $50,670.

Job Field Growth or Decline

As advertising becomes ever more creative and the importance of online marketing and communication increases, graphic design jobs are slowly becoming more available, with job outlooks predicting a growth of around 7% between 2012 and 2022. Unfortunately, the increasing popularity of graphic design careers and the increased competition from designers in economically poorer countries means that competition for US jobs within this field is increasing. Like any artistic field, success will depend on both talent, motivation, talent cost, communication, and overall client satisfaction.

Best Cities for Graphic Design Jobs

  • New York City​, New York
    As the east coast centre for design, art and advertising, New York has a highly concentrated number of design jobs in a wide range of companies. Both senior designers and those starting their career will find many career options here, but they will also be extremely competitive.
  • San Francisco​, California​
    San Francisco is home to some of the world’s best graphic design firms, large multinationals and a wide range of creative companies offering competitive salaries. The city is also popular for freelancers, who earn a little less than their corporate counterparts, averaging around $54K per year.
  • Austin, Texas
    As one of America’s fastest growing cities, Austin is home to many technology companies and boasts a low cost of living, which makes the slightly lower average designer salary go a little further.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Minneapolis is home to top advertising agencies and marketing firms, with a variety of roles available for designers at all stages of their careers. Salaries are competitive compared to cost of living.
  • Los Angeles​, California​
    Los Angeles is home to several schools with top design programs, as well as a growing number of technology based firms, fashion, and entertainment companies, making it a good city to start off your graphic design career.

Job Certifications, Training, Education Requirements

Graphic design is a competitive field, and most designers start out by completing some form of training, generally an art or design based degree. The wide range of courses available to future designers allows some level of specialization early on, but most courses will focus on web design, graphic design, product packaging and communications. A variety of internships are also available to students and newly qualified designers.

Where Can I Go From Here?

Successful graphic designers can work almost anywhere in the world, or make a good living as freelancers. Upper-level and senior designer roles are achievable within three to five years depending on experience and talent, and successful designers can move into creative director or managerial positions. Career progression within smaller companies is often limited, with many designers cutting their teeth with smaller firms and then moving on to larger companies or starting their own partnerships to develop their careers.

Top 20 US Employers in This Field

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  1. Visual Asylum
  2. Jar Design
  3. Sublot
  4. DDB
  5. Brand Engine
  6. Pentagram
  7. Landor
  8. Chermayeff and Geismar
  9. 400
  10. Forty Seven Media
  11. Object9
  12. Go Media
  13. Studio 7 Design
  14. Brownjohn
  15. FutureBrand
  16. Interbrand
  17. Siegel + Gale
  18. Electric Pulp
  19. Karacters Design Group
  20. Stray Dog

Sources:

By Staff Writer, SimplyJobs