If at any point today you’ve read a book, made an online purchase, put on a t-shirt, or watched a TV commercial, you’ve been exposed to the work of a graphic designer. As great American designer, Paul Rand, once said:
Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated.
It’s true–graphic designers basically make the world beautiful, and the rest of us just get to live in it. Lots of companies and organizations are able to benefit from making things beautiful, which is why there are opportunities in the field across a wide variety of industries.
Graphic Designer Career Guide Overview
- What a Graphic Designer Does
- A Typical Day for a Graphic Designer
- Salary and Career Progression for a Graphic Designer
- Best Locations for Graphic Design
- Pro/Con: Being a Graphic Artist
- What You Need to Know for a Career in Graphic Design
- Graphic Design Resources
- Careers Related to Graphic Design
- Companies with Jobs and Internships in Graphic Design
What a Graphic Designer Does
At the most simple level, a graphic designer is a professional who is responsible for presenting information in a way that is both accessible and memorable. This typically involves assembling images, typography, and/or motion graphics together to create a piece of design. Basically, graphic designers focus on solving visual communication problems within the context of a specific audience and media channel. As such, they have the opportunity to work within multiple industries, ranging from publishing to advertising to web development. While it may sound overwhelming, that’s actually a good thing because it means there are plenty of opportunities to put your craft to work!
A Typical Day for a Graphic Designer
On most days, a designer receives a brief (an explanation of what someone wants/what problem needs to be solved) from a client or boss. Then the designer brainstorms solutions to the brief, and works out some of their ideas with sketches or rough prototypes. After examining all potential angles, the designer creates the best idea. Executing the idea might entail anything from using computer programs, to photo shoots, to scouting out locations. If you’re a more visual learner, check out this entertaining infographic about a day in the life of a graphic designer.
Salary and Career Progression for a Graphic Designer
Now that you’re aware of the ins-and-outs of the job, I know what you’re thinking… show me the money! Well, the salary of graphic artists and designers usually falls in the range of $23,000-$58,000. The entry level will probably be at the lower half of the range, and the upper half is usually for people with a few years of experience. As you gain experience, you may move into positions like Senior Graphic Designer ($34,000-$78,000), Art Director ($33,000-$86,000), and Web Graphic Designer ($25,000-$63,000).
Other Names for Graphic Designers
- Graphic Artist
- Web Designer
- Visual Designer
- Visual Communicator
- Communications Designer
Best Locations for Graphic Design
Here are some of the best cities for jobs and internships in Graphic Design:
- Palo Alto, California
- Stamford, Connecticut
- Alexandria, Virginia
- Mclean, Virginia
- San Francisco, California
Pro/Con: Being a Graphic Artist
- Make money doing what you love: art.
- The barriers to entry are low. Getting started as a graphic designer is much easier than getting started in other creative fields.
- New technology is constantly being introduced, so a graphic designer’s tool set is ever-expanding.
- There’s an endless demand for design work.
- Your work speaks for itself.
- You’ll need to be constantly learning to keep up with new technology developments.
- There’s a growing trend towards crowdsourcing, which can mean you may not get paid for all the work you do, unless your specific work gets selected.
- There can be fierce competition, because the barriers to entry are low.
What You Need to Know for a Career in Graphic Design
Graphic Design Resources
If graphic design still sounds like your cup of tea, here are a few things you should do to get started.
Top books for budding graphic designers.
Key Folks to Follow on Twitter
Blogs and Websites
Careers Related to Graphic Design
Companies with Entry Level Jobs and Internships in Graphic Design
Check out the latest job and internship postings in graphic design.