Graphic Designer

Female graphic designer in yellow sweater sitting at a desk designing graphics with stylus and two computer screens

What you need to know

What is a graphic designer?

Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers. 

They develop the overall layout and production design for various applications such as advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports.

What does a graphic designer do?

Graphic designers generally work in studios or agencies, where they have access to drafting tables, computers, and the software necessary to create their designs.

Although many graphic designers work independently, those who work for specialized graphic design firms often work as part of a design team. Many graphic designers collaborate with colleagues or work with clients on projects.

A typical day for a graphic deisgner might include these duties:

  • Meet with clients or the art director to determine the scope of a project
  • Use digital illustration, photo editing software, and layout software to create designs
  • Create visual elements such as logos, original images, and illustrations that help deliver a desired message
  • Design layouts and select colors, images, and typefaces to use
  • Present design concepts to clients or art directors
  • Incorporate changes recommended by clients or art directors into final designs
  • Review designs for errors before printing or publishing them

Watch this video to learn about what our graphic designer role models do:

What skills are needed?
  • Analytical skills: Graphic designers must be able to look at their work from the point of view of their consumers and examine how the designs they develop will be perceived by consumers to ensure they convey the client’s desired message.
  • Artistic ability: Graphic designers must be able to create designs that are artistically interesting and appealing to clients and consumers. They produce rough illustrations of design ideas, either by hand sketching or by using computer programs.
  • Communication skills: Graphic designers must communicate with clients, customers, and other designers to ensure that their designs accurately reflect the desired message and effectively express information.
  • Computer skills: Most graphic designers use specialized graphic design software to prepare their designs.
  • Creativity: Graphic designers must be able to think of new approaches to communicating ideas to consumers. They develop unique designs that convey a certain message on behalf of their clients.
  • Time-management skills: Graphic designers often work on multiple projects at the same time, each with a different deadline.

Watch this video to learn more from our graphic designer role model:

How much does a graphic designer make?

The average pay for graphic designers in the United States was $58,910 in May 2023 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A graphic designer’s pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

What is the career outlook?

About 22,800 new job openings for graphic designers are projected each year, on average, over the next 10 years in the United States.

Overall employment of graphic designers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2022 to 2032 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is slower than the average growth rate for all occupations.

Despite limited growth, many openings are still expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire. The work of graphic designers will continue to be important in the marketing of products throughout the economy.

In addition, companies are continuing to increase their digital presence, requiring graphic designers to help create visually appealing and effective layouts of websites.

How to become a graphic designer

A bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field is usually required. However, individuals with a bachelor’s degree in another field may pursue technical training in graphic design to meet most hiring qualifications. 

In addition, students should consider courses in writing, marketing, and business, which are useful in helping designers work effectively on project teams.

High school students interested in graphic design should take basic art and design courses in high school if the courses are available. Many bachelor’s degree programs require students to complete a year of basic art and design courses before being admitted to a formal degree program. Some schools require applicants to submit sketches and other examples of their artistic ability.

Watch this video to learn more about how to become a graphic designer from our role models: