Explore various careers paths under the broad umbrella of design, including Graphic Design, Digital Design, Motion Graphics and Video Editing, and User Experience Design. Learn about the roles, skills, tools, and training required for each specialization to help you decide which career path aligns with your interests and skills.

Key Insights

  • Graphic Design encompasses a broad range of jobs that blend creative and technical skills to produce professional works of visual art and communication. Specializations can include advanced technical design skills such as digital animation and video editing.
  • Graphic Designers are creative professionals who combine text and visually appealing imagery to communicate a message. They utilize design principles like color and typography, and must also possess proficiency in professional design programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
  • Digital design roles such as Visual Designers and Web Designers work on the visual and interactive aspects of web applications. While Visual Designers create digital visual assets, Web Designers also need coding knowledge to build practical, functioning elements of a webpage. Tools like Figma, Adobe XD, HTML/CSS, and JavaScript are often utilized in these roles.
  • Motion Graphics Artists create the illusion of motion in static images, working on projects from simple 2D animations to complex computer graphics animated projects. Video Editors, on the other hand, combine and manipulate video files to create a coherent final product. Both roles require knowledge of software applications like Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro.
  • User Experience (UX) Design focuses on how a digital interface feels to users. UX Designers test and research user behavior to ensure digital interfaces are accessible, user-friendly, and easy to navigate. Tools like Figma or Adobe XD are often utilized in this role, along with skills in research, leading focus groups, generating and interpreting surveys, and iterating on design based on feedback.
  • Noble Desktop offers a variety of graphic design classes, including individual Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator bootcamps, as well as a comprehensive Graphic Design Certificate program. The courses offer hands-on assignments using popular design programs, providing foundational design skills for aspiring Graphic Designers.

Graphic design is one of the many different career paths that fall under the broad category of design. This is a large collection of jobs that all deal with blending creative skills and technical skills to produce professional quality works of visual art and communication. This can range from advertising material to branded merchandise to advocacy work and websites. It also encompasses a large range of different specializations that can include advanced technical design skills such as digital animation and video editing.

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. 

Read more about what a Graphic Designer does

Digital Design

Digital design positions such as Visual Designers and Web Designers work on creating the visual and interactive aspects of web applications. There are a number of specific job titles under this banner and each of them will work on different aspects of the design and development process of web applications. 

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Visual Designers work strictly with creating the digital visual assets that are uploaded onto a web application and design the user interfaces for those applications. They won't necessarily need to learn any advanced software applications, since they primarily end up using tools like Photoshop and Illustrator to design these assets, but many will need to learn tools like Figma or Adobe XD, which are specialized layout design applications, essentially InDesign for web pages. This is a growing field and Graphic Designers interested in applying their talents to a digital canvas may want to consider exploring their options for visual design training.

Web Designers use many of the same skills as Visual Designers but they will also be expected to have enough coding knowledge to build practical, functioning elements of a webpage (or even an entire webpage). They will be expected to learn HTML/CSS and JavaScript as part of their web development training so that they can build the front-facing elements of the web applications that they are designing. The amount of programming work that they will be asked to do will vary depending on the job that they find, but as a general rule it will be less than the amount of design work that they are asked to do, since most firms will employ dedicated Web Developers to do a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of programming.

Motion Graphics and Video Editing

Motion graphics is the art of taking a static image and creating the illusion of motion. While most commonly associated with traditional 2D animation, computer-assisted animation is becoming increasingly common in a number of different industries and the field is rapidly expanding to meet this demand. Motion Graphics Artists will work on projects ranging from simple 2D animations for digital applications all the way up to complex computer graphics animated projects for television and film. They will primarily use tools like Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro in order to add digital animated elements to video files or other digital film assets.

A related field to motion graphics is video editing, which is more of a technical art than it is a creative design field, but the two use enough overlapping tools that they are both comparable job titles. Video Editors will combine and manipulate disparate video files to create a coherent final product that is ready for distribution. They will often work alongside Motion Graphics Artists to add effects to a video file in post-production and they will also make heavy use of software applications like Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro.

The primary difference between the two roles is that a Video Editor handles more of the technical aspects of editing, such as cutting scenes together, making sure audio is aligned, and maintaining continuity between shots. Motion Graphics Artists deal more with the visual effects and post-production animation that is added to a video production near the end of the project. Both positions will require Graphic Designers to learn a suite of new tools, but many of the theories of creative visual composition carry over and these are both worthwhile career paths for Graphic Designers looking for a new use of their skills.

User Experience Design

An important subfield of User Interface Design is User Experience (UX) design. This field deals with the question of how a digital interface feels in the hands of users and how they behave when interacting with that application. Try as they might, UI Designers can’t control how their interfaces are utilized once real world consumers get their hands on them and UX Designers are tasked with testing and researching user behavior in order to ensure that finished digital interfaces are accessible, user-friendly and easy to navigate. Unlike other graphic design fields, UX design is less about visual creativity and more about practicality of design. UX Designers won’t be concerned with how a user interface looks, they will be concerned with how it feels for users, regardless of how those users are opting to interact with it.

UX Designers won’t need to use as many design tools as other design professionals, though they will need to use tools like Figma or Adobe XD. UX design is primarily concerned with testing, understanding, and researching user behavior and generating actionable feedback. This means that users will need to learn how to perform research, lead focus groups, generate and interpret surveys, and iterate on design based on feedback. UX Designers will also need to learn general UX design principles that can be applied to virtually any interface design in order to ensure that early design prototypes aren’t making common mistakes.

How to Decide Which Career is Right for You

Since there are so many different career paths under the general banner of design, it may be difficult to choose the right path for you, especially since each different path is going to require training in different skill sets and different design tools. Therefore, you’ll want to consider your own interests and desires before committing to a training regiment meant to lead you down any of these career paths. All of these career paths assume that you have a desire to work in a creative design environment and you are interested in some manner of visual communication.

One of the first questions you should ask yourself is whether or not you are interested in learning computer programming as a component of your education. Web Designers in particular will need to learn HTML/CSS and JavaScript and may need to learn additional programming languages as they advance on their career path. Noble Desktop offers a free Intro to Front End Web Development seminar that covers the basic process of designing and developing a web page, so students who are unsure whether or not coding is right for them may want to consider watching that seminar to learn more.

Next, you’ll want to consider whether you want to work in a field that is primarily driven by personal creative decisions or more built on technical skills and knowledge. Jobs for User Experience Designers and Video Editors, for instance, will rely on more technical knowledge and training than personal creative vision. A UX Designer can’t ignore the ways that users are actually interfacing with their designs and Video Editors have leeway but are still going to have to make certain that they are working with other members of a production team and checking a number of technical boxes (is continuity maintained, are the audio files lined up, do these cuts communicate information properly). This may not be a problem for you, but it is the major feature that separates these two jobs from similar design-related career paths.

Finally, you should ask yourself what kinds of projects you want to work on and how much training you are willing to receive in order to work in certain industries. If you are comfortable spending most of your time working on traditional media projects or you don’t want to learn a half dozen different creative design applications, you may find yourself wanting to work as a Graphic Designer. If you are wanting to work on a complex digital canvas and are fine with learning user interface design tools, it might be worth training to become a Digital Designer

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.