Becoming a Graphic Designer might sound like the ideal career path for a professional who desires to marry their technical skills with their creative abilities, but whether it is a good career for everyone is another matter. This field provides a competitive salary and opportunities for growth. It is also highly flexible and requires designers to work with various team members on various projects. Here, we’ll discuss these attributes in more detail so you can decide if becoming a Graphic Designer aligns with your goals.
What is a Graphic Designer?
A Graphic Designer is a creative professional who combines text and visually appealing imagery to share a message with an audience. This could be through advertising, social media, or product packaging, to name a few. They are well-versed in design principles like color and typography and are committed to staying up-to-date on the latest trends. Whether they work for an agency or freelancer, they collaborate with clients and other team members to create high-quality designs that appeal to new and existing customers.
In addition to proficiency in professional design programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, a successful Graphic Designer must also work well with others. Graphic Designers rarely work alone, and since their job is to create a product that matches a client's vision, they must be willing to accept feedback and suggestions from others. Time management skills are also crucial for a Graphic Designer; since most of them work freelance, they often work on multiple projects for many clients simultaneously.
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Graphic Designer Salary and Job Outlook
The average Graphic Designer earns around $54,000 per year, but this can vary widely depending on additional factors like years of experience (Graphic Designers with over ten years of experience earn closer to $70,000) and which city they work in. Some of the highest-paying cities for Graphic Designers include New York, NY, Atlanta, GA, and Los Angeles, CA. Those who work freelance typically charge between $25 and $50 an hour for entry-level work, but more experienced designers can bill over $100 an hour.
The job outlook for a Graphic Designer depends significantly on their subset of skills. Static images and images for print are becoming less popular as businesses expand their digital footprint, so a Graphic Designer will need to train in creating digital designs to remain competitive. In addition to the standard software programs that Graphic Designers typically use, they can ensure a more stable career path by learning to use programs like Adobe XD for user interface design or Adobe After Effects to learn animation skills. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts only a 3% growth rate for graphic design positions, digital design careers are predicted to grow by 23% by 2031.
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What Makes Graphic Design a Good Career?
There are several reasons why becoming a Graphic Designer would appeal to many people, especially those who are creative and have a passion for technology. The factors listed below are some common things that these professionals love about their job:
Flexibility to Work in Many Industries
If you know you want to work as a Graphic Designer but aren’t sure where you want to apply these skills, the good news is that you don’t necessarily have to choose. There are plenty of professional opportunities in fields like publishing and mobile app design. However, you can also branch out to some unexpected areas that require Graphic Designers as well. For example, some designers eventually become instructors at community colleges or local art programs. Government agencies and nonprofits also hire Graphic Designers to work on things like website interface design and letterhead.
Of course, none of this is to say that you have to move from industry to industry; plenty of Graphic Designers are very comfortable working in one area and can happily stay there for the duration of their careers. However, if you desire the opportunity to learn a variety of skills and work with a broad range of professionals, graphic design might be the perfect fit.
Collaborate and Network with Others
Whether they work freelance or for a particular agency, Graphic Designers rarely work alone. There may be some late nights designing logo samples alone at their desk, but the majority of a designer’s work is collaborative in nature. They must be sure to consistently check in with other stakeholders to ensure their design aligns with the goals of the client.
Working in a team allows you to develop several critical soft skills, like communication and implementing feedback without taking it personally. It also provides the opportunity to see other perspectives and solve problems that you couldn't manage alone. Some professionals prefer to work in a more independent capacity, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, it may mean that graphic design is not the field for you.
A vast majority of Graphic Designers work on a freelance basis. This means they are self-employed; they set their own rates and apply for individual assignments as an independent contractor rather than remaining long-term with one agency. Being a freelance designer means you essentially can be your own boss, and it's up to you which projects you complete. Freelance designers also have the luxury of defining their personal design style without being constrained by the demands of one company.
While it may sound like freelancing provides a flexible schedule and will allow you only to take desirable jobs, that isn’t always the case. Before pursuing a career as a Graphic Designer, you’ll want to examine some of the pros and cons of freelancing a bit more closely.
Learn a Range of Marketable Skills
The core design programs in a Graphic Designer’s toolkit generally include Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. As these are all part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, this often makes it easier to learn additional Adobe programs. For example, you could learn to use Adobe After Effects to create animations and find work as a Motion Graphics Designer. You could also master Adobe XD, commonly used in user experience (UX) design.
Career Paths Related to Graphic Design
There are several exciting career options that are related to graphic design. One option is to become a User Experience (UX) Designer. These professionals identify where users of a product, website, or mobile app encounter challenges and work to improve the design. They use several Adobe products to achieve these goals, the most common being Adobe XD. User Interface (UI) Designers also utilize similar programs, but their responsibilities are focused on the appearance of a website or app rather than the experience of navigating it. UI Designers earn an average annual salary of roughly $84,000, but this will increase with more experience; a Senior UI Designer earns an annual salary closer to $114,000 per year.
Motion Graphics Designers are professionals who skillfully combine text, sound, and animation to create animations that quickly grab an audience’s attention. This animation technique is used in areas like social media, television, and movies. You’ve probably seen their work in iconic opening sequences for popular television shows like Westworld or Game of Thrones. Motion Graphics Designers use many of the same programs required for graphic design, including programs specifically for animation, like Adobe After Effects.
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Learn the Skills to Become a Graphic Designer at Noble Desktop
If you want to start a career in graphic design, the graphic design classes offered by Noble Desktop are an excellent place to start. Students can take all their classes remotely or in-person at their Manhattan campus. For students who want to start slow by just learning one popular design program, Noble offers an Adobe Photoshop Bootcamp, an Adobe InDesign Bootcamp, and an Adobe Illustrator Bootcamp. These beginner-friendly courses take just a few days to complete and will provide students with foundational design skills.
For those who feel ready to dive into a more comprehensive program, Noble Desktop’s Graphic Design Certificate might be a better fit. Students will complete hands-on assignments using popular design programs, including Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. This program is ideal for those hoping to start a career as a Graphic Designer. Certificate students at Noble Desktop receive individual career mentorship, where experts in the design industry help craft resumes and portfolios and provide helpful tips for finding lucrative employment.
If a class isn’t feasible for your current schedule, Noble Desktop has a host of resources on its website to help start your graphic design career. You can browse their collection of articles about Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign if you’re curious about how each program works. You can also review information about other design tools to see if another field might interest you more.
- Graphic Designers combine text and images to design a variety of products for their clients.
- Graphic Designers typically earn an annual salary of around $50,000. They can improve their job outlook by training in additional skills, like coding or social media marketing.
- Most industries use graphic design in some capacity, meaning Graphic Designers can work in several industries and network with various professionals.
- Most Graphic Designers freelance, so their schedules are flexible, and they can take the jobs and learn the skills that interest them most.
- Noble Desktop offers a variety of live online and in-person graphic design courses to help prepare students to enter this field.