What does a Graphic Designer do?

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: January 5, 2022  •  8 min read  •  Creative
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Graphic designers are visual communication professionals. They work to create concepts for products, services, and companies. The main goal of a graphic designer is to communicate the ideas of the company to the consumer.

Of course, this is the short and simple answer to what a graphic designer does. There are many things this type of employee will do for a company. Let’s look at the different job duties and what a graphic designer does.

What does a Graphic Designer do?

Job Duties of a Graphic Designer

As a graphic designer, you will create visual content. Typically, you will create both digital and print form content. This content might be used for newsletters, digital media, web design, publications, advertisements, product packaging, or even architectural designs.

When you take on a job as a graphic designer, you will work to communicate through visual forms. Your main job duties will include:

Many graphic designers will create web graphics, social media images, content for marketing brochures, and more.

How to Become a Graphic Designer

If you want to become a graphic designer, you can choose one of many career paths. While a college degree isn’t required, it can be helpful. Of course, you can also take online courses, get certified, or become a graphic designer through self-taught methods.

Necessary Education

Graphic designers can land jobs with a certificate, an associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s degree. Even without any formal education, if you have an excellent portfolio, you can land a job.

The best way to make sure you stand out above the competition is getting a Bachelors of Arts or Fine Arts degree in graphic design or graphic arts. This will put you ahead of many other candidates without degrees.

Certifications

If you don’t want to go to college, you can become certified as a graphic artist. These programs are often much shorter and will give you the necessary skills to enter the workforce.

It’s also possible to gain certification in specific software programs. With the right software certifications, you can earn more money and become a better candidate for the job.

Common Training

Most graphic designers will go through some on-the-job training. You might work as an intern first or need to train on the company’s software. Computer and software training courses are rather common as graphic design becomes more digital.

Necessary Skills for Graphic Designers

If you want to become a graphic designer, you will need the right skills. Some of these skills can be developed. The most common skills you need include:

When it comes to working as a graphic designer, the right skills make a big difference.

Pros and Cons of Being a Graphic Designer

If you’re considering a career as a graphic designer, a quick look at the pros and cons might help.

Pros

Cons

There are many pros and only a few cons for those looking at this career. If you have the creative skills, becoming a graphic designer might be a great option for you.

Frequently Asked Questions About Graphic Designers

How much can I make as a graphic designer?

When you decide to go into a career as a graphic designer, you will make around $18.70 per hour. This is the average wage according to Indeed.com. Some employers and locations pay much more, however. You can also earn quite a bit more with experience.

Top employers will pay closer to $30 or even $40 per hour for graphic designers. If you work in Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Phoenix, or Dallas, you will likely earn an above-average salary.

Those with a fine arts degree or an architecture degree can make significantly more. If you’re skilled with Cinema 4D, Sketch, InVision, Sketchup, or Adobe Creative Suite, it can help you earn a higher wage, too.

What type of benefits do graphic designers receive?

Most graphic designers working full time will have access to a 401(k), health insurance, vision insurance, dental insurance, and paid time off. Some companies offer free food, stock options, employee discounts, and the ability to work from home. Your benefits will depend on the employer you decide to work for.

Can I advance my career as a graphic designer?

Yes, there are many ways to advance your career. As a graphic designer, you can earn even more money by advancing to one of the following positions:

These careers all pay more than just a career as a graphic designer.

Can I work as a freelance graphic designer?

Yes, and this is a rather common way for graphic designers to make more money. Many graphic designers will sell digital products, such as e-books, coloring books, or comic books online. You can also design logos, website graphics, and other digital images to clients as a freelancer.

Working as a freelance graphic designer helps you to control your income and your schedule. You set the rates, which means you can make more money if you prefer.

What will the work environment be like if I become a graphic designer?

You will likely work in an office or studio setting. Many graphic designers work as a part of a team, while others work independently. You will spend time collaborating with other artists and with clients. It’s also common to work with the marketing, public relations, and advertising departments.

Most graphic designers work on deadlines. This can lead to a varied work schedule with some overtime. You may also need to work on weekends to finish projects.

What will the hours be if I work as a graphic designer?

Most graphic designers will work a schedule similar to a 9 to 5 schedule. It’s typically a full-time job with regular business hours. However, you might find some part-time jobs in this field.

It’s also common for graphic designers to work overtime, nights, and weekends when a deadline is approaching. If you work as a freelance graphic designer, you can enjoy a more flexible schedule.

Are graphic designers in high demand?

No, this type of career is growing, but not very fast. It’s growing at a slower rate than the average of all occupations. Many experts attribute the slower growth rate to the decline in print media.

Can I work from home as a graphic designer?

Yes. The work is mainly done on a computer, so working from home is pretty easy. Many graphic designers work from home as freelancers, as well.

Is it hard to get a job as a graphic designer without a college degree?

Yes, but many self-taught graphic designers can work freelance. Most employers will hire you with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, but not without. If you want to become a self-taught graphic designer, working as a freelancer is the best option.

How long will it take me to become a graphic designer?

The amount of time it will take depends on the path you choose. If you choose to get a bachelor’s degree, you will need at least four years. However, an associate’s degree will likely take about two years. Self-taught graphic designers may be able to learn the necessary skills in just a few months.

Where do graphic designers commonly work?

It’s common to find graphic designers in print houses, design agencies, and marketing firms. They might work for a large company with an advertising or marketing department, too.

Freelance graphic designers will work with a variety of clients. Just about every company needs graphics created for their online and offline marketing campaigns.

If you’re a creative person and you want to enjoy a rewarding career, becoming a graphic designer might be for you. This type of career offers many possibilities. You can work for a company or work as a freelancer. Either way, you’ll be able to use your creativity to help others with marketing, advertising, website design, and more.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path. I, personally, am the high school dropout son of two teacher parents. So how did I get here? That story is coming soon!