How to Become a

Graphic Designer

The complete career guide to be a Graphic Designer: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $51,640
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 1.4%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Creativity Focused
    Career Attribute

Graphic designers create visual concepts to communicate ideas that inspire and inform their customers.  They create either by hand or by using computer software to develop and produce products like brochures, posters, advertisements and magazines.

Recommended Schools

What is a Graphic Designer?

The following responsibilities are common for Graphic Designers:

  • Works with a wide range of media and uses graphic design software
  • Meets with clients or art directors to determine the parameters of a project
  • Thinks creatively and critically to develop new and cutting-edge design concepts, graphics and layouts
  • Presents design and layout to client and makes any necessary requested and recommended adjustments
  • Works with printers to ensure deadlines are met and the quality of the work meets standards

A Day In The Life

Graphic designers create visually pleasing art to advertise and sell products for clients.  This could be in the form of logos, brochures, billboards, etc.  They work to give their clients a visual brand.

Most graphic design is done through computer software and other multimedia outlets.  These individuals will work with both text and images.  They often produce images and text that flow together in an aesthetically pleasing way on a print or webpage.  Through the use of these images, text and color, they can transform statistical data into visually appealing advertisements, making complex ideas more relatable and accessible.

Typical Work Schedule

Full-time graphic designers schedule usually follow the typical work schedule of 40 hours per week. However, the work schedule is highly flexible and most of the graphic designers set their own schedule. This is particularly valid for self employed graphic designers who represent around 24% of all graphic designers according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most of the self-employed designers work from home or run their own agencies. Graphic designers employed by agencies will have strict schedule and may occasionally need to work overtime. All graphic designers need to spend time with their clients to understand their ideas and requirements. They also need to dedicate time for continuous education to remain updated regarding the latest technologies and trends in the field.

Projected Job Growth

According to the bureau of labor statistics (US) the employment of graphic designers is expected to decline by 4 % from 2019 to 2029. There are currently 281,500 jobs for graphic designers which are expected to decrease by more than 10,000 jobs during the mentioned period. The decline may be alarming and therefore you should think twice before choosing this career and consider your skills before your decision. For example, employment of graphic designers in newspaper, book and other publishers is expected to extremely decrease. There are some fields that have increasing demand for the job. For example, employment of graphic designers in computer systems and related fields is expected to increase. Many companies give great care to their digital presence and they need to create the proper appealing look for any company. Graphic designers are expected to face strong competition as more and more talented people choose this field.

Typical Employers

Graphic designers have multiple employers. In many cases, the graphic designer will choose to be self-employed which allows more flexible work opportunities spanning different fields. If you aim at working as a freelancer, then you will need to work hard to build your network of clients and portfolio of successful designs. Alternatively, you can work for specialized design services as well as advertising, public relations and printing companies. If you have the required talent, you may get the chance to work for one of the graphic studios as Pixer, Disney, Pentagram New York and Sagmeister & Walsh

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How To Become a Graphic Designer

A bachelor’s degree in graphic design or visual arts is the desired education for most employers.  Coursework should include classes in art, principles of design, computerized design printing techniques and web design.  Additionally, students should take classes in writing, marketing and business.  Most programs provide students the opportunity to build professional portfolios of their designs as well.  Students can then in turn use these portfolios, examples of their work, to demonstrate their skills when applying for a job.  Not all programs or employers require internships.  But it is important that students gain as much knowledge and experience in the field as possible.

The biggest asset to an individual seeking a career in this field is their portfolio.  Although the individual will also present a resume along with their portfolio, the portfolio is the only way for an employer to fully comprehend the designer’s abilities.  For students just starting out, it may be difficult to present a well rounded and varied portfolio.  In this case, individuals should focus on quality rather than quantity and present only their best work within their portfolios.  They should also stay current on pop-culture and trends within the industry.  They should also remain up-to-date on design software programs as well.

Graphic Designer Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

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High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Graphic Designer salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Graphic Designer's can make an average annual salary of $51,640, or $25 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $35,170 or $17 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #367 Nationally for All Careers

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Graphic Designer. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Graphic Designers

  • 1.4%   Doctorate
  • 8.7%   Masters
  • 47.4%   Bachelors
  • 12.7%   Associates
  • 17.6%   College
  • 9.8%   High School
  • 2.3%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Graphic Designer job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 3,600 jobs for a total of 265,200 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 1.4% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #569 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Graphic Designers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Self-employed workers 57,600 1,500 2%
Specialized design services 26,600 2,300 2%
Advertising, public relations, and related services 22,200 800 1%

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