Graphic Designer Needs a Career Change

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Karl in Adelaide, Australia

31 months ago

Let's relegate the system responsible for this global fiasco to the garbage can of history...Enough of 'Greed Heil, greed heil, greed heil!"...Time to try something different folks!

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Average in Medford, Massachusetts

31 months ago

Graphic Artist in Jersey City, New Jersey said: Not true again. I think location matters though, and I will never stop thinking that.
Thanks,
This isn't the 1970s anymore. New York City and San Franciso are heavily gentrified places. They are not friendly to anyone without high earning potential.Graphic design doesn't fall into the list of occupations with high earning potential, like it or not.

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Average in Medford, Massachusetts

31 months ago

Graphic Artist in Jersey City, New Jersey said: if you want to earn 40k and up doing design you need to be close to design centers San Fran/NYC that's where all of the advertising agencies are at. I think location matters though, and I will never stop thinking that....
Thanks,

You "think"? Well, here's what I know.

This isn't the 1970s anymore. New York City and San Francisco are heavily gentrified places. They are not hospitable to anyone without high earning potential.Graphic design doesn't fall into the list of occupations with high earning potential, like it or not.

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ceceliamasters@yahoo.com in Santa Cruz, California

31 months ago

how did it work out?

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Ali in Phoenix, Arizona

30 months ago

sarah in Toronto, Ontario said: Good topic. I am a graphic designer- have been since I graduated in my early 20's til now- I am 49. Was laid off and am in the process of putting my portfolio together etc but my heart isn't in it- plus people seem to want younger designers so am making decisions about a career cahnge.
Now is the time to do it. Thinking of c=going into counseling and have applied to a school for a one year course in career counseling (post degree- I already have a degree).

I want a career I can grow older in... and am not interested in doing web work- I can use Dreamweaver etc but I'd hate to have to build websites all day long.

I'm not sure if I am making the right move into the right career but I do have a career counselor so am exploring my decisions and options with her. I suppose I can always fall back on design and having an education in another field never hurts....

DON'T go into anything psychology unless you get your ph.d or plan on opening a private practice after your masters. You will be making minimum wage with a bachelors degree IF you're lucky enough to find a job. I have a bachelors degree in psych and I'm going back to school for web design. The only fields I would suggest going into are IT, healthcare or accounting. You are pretty much guaranteed a job with these fields.

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ZoeySnap in Orange County, California

30 months ago

I am also an unemployed graphic designer looking for a career change. All of my past experience has been in print design and it is very frustrating because most employers want you to have experience in both print and web. I have basic knowledge of Dreamweaver but that is it, and honestly I'm not really interested in web design. I guess the whole job search thing and rejection is wearing me down and I am just getting burnt out.

What I really want to do is get into marketing. I have a couple years of experience as a marketing assistant two jobs ago, and I'm trying to highlight that on my resume. My problem is how to downplay my previous job? How difficult is this going to be to make a transition like this? What do you say in an interview when they ask you, "so why are you looking for a change?"

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Generic Design (Google It) in Seven Hills, Australia

30 months ago

Very interesting read with the full gamut from despair to those over competitive types like the graphic artist in Jersey who actually thinks that being obnoxious makes him or her better. Though sadly, despite that person's churlish tone, there's truth there. And some here might have to live with the unfortunate reality that the goalposts have been moved so far that the main reason many talented people can't get work is because many really, really talented people have been driven into doing more for less. Commercial Design, Marketing, call the related industries what you will has become a survival of the fittest environment with a the odds skewed against you if you live in a country with a high cost of living (I'm in Australia and the cost of living here is such that you need to earn $50,000 for a basic standard of living and make that at least $60,000 anywhere near Sydney or Melbourne).

Unfortunately for me and my wife we're in this for the long haul. Being creative is the one thing I do well and it's my passion. Management types and employers know that, know the market is saturated with no-hopers bringing the price down for all and they exploit it. The post earlier referencing typesetters and horse drawn carriage drivers and generational change was right. You need to adapt. I've become a Swiss Army Knife of creative roles, copywriting, marketing, print and web (and yes, some programming too. I can't afford to employ someone who earns more than I do!) and even sales, meetings and Powerpoints.

The worst aspect is continually refreshing yourself as you get older. People who whine about college for HTML and Dreamweaver should use their initiative. I'm completely self taught as far as the internet goes. The web came on 3 years after I graduated and we just got on with it.

People wait for someone to tell them how to do things too much. Find it yourself.

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Average in Everett, Massachusetts

30 months ago

Generic Design (Google It) in Seven Hills, Australia said: Management types and employers know that, know the market is saturated with no-hopers bringing the price down for all and they exploit it. The post earlier referencing typesetters and horse drawn carriage drivers and generational change was right. You need to adapt. I've become a Swiss Army Knife of creative roles, copywriting, marketing, print and web (and yes, some programming too. I can't afford to employ someone who earns more than I do!) and even sales, meetings and Powerpoints.

People wait for someone to tell them how to do things too much. Find it yourself.

Funny. You advise that everyone become a jack-of-all-trades but then you complain that too many people are becoming jack-of-all-trades and are bringing down wages. If they truly are "no-hopers" then how can they effect labor costs or employment opportunities? The real culprit that you fail to identify is technology, which allows people to do more in less time and with less people. Technology enabled productivity is increasing much faster than demand. Demand is otherwise known as the number of buyers. Information Technology, marketing and copywriting face the same problem. More people using more technology is going to put more people out of work.

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Generic Design (Google It) in Seven Hills, Australia

30 months ago

"Funny. You advise that everyone become a jack-of-all-trades but then you complain that too many people are becoming jack-of-all-trades and are bringing down wages."

You misunderstood me. I was pointing out that, yes, graphic designers need to diversify. But I wasn't contending that jack-of-all-trades are bringing down wages. It's no-hopers doing that. People who basically shouldn't even be in charge of a very sharp pencil, let alone a design job. You must see that there's been a huge glut of people wanting to work as graphic designers (supply) whilst demand and the amount of actual good designers has probably only increased a little. You say "Technology enabled productivity is increasing much faster than demand." and I agree to a point. Good ideas take just as long to happen to a creative designer as they always did and you still needs ideas - computer is just a tool.

I stick to my original thought that bad designers flooding the market meaning most people now have loads in their local area is what's wrong. Non-designers are really poor at spotting the difference between a hopeless kid and a seasoned professional and thus the work is spread thinly.

I mentioned diversification because it works for me. Yes, I am now taking work from others (instead of outsourcing because the budget in the jobs is not there) but that is the vicious circle we find ourselves in and the contradiction to which you refer.

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abeedle in Salem, Virginia

30 months ago

one option is to just take advantage of the outsourcing trend/"plague" and freelance. Then geography is not an issue -- but then you'll need to basically "be in business for yourself". Scary on some levels, but less so than it might seem. And your expenses will go waaaaaaaayyyyy down. Gasoline costs to walk downstairs to your laptop are way less than driving 20 miles each way. ;-)

Check out an aggregator site that just scrapes freelance gigs. A friend of mine and I built one just for us and then a bunch of our friends started using it. Now it's become a legit business in its own right (you never know where projects may lead huh?). It's called gigmagnethq - - but I won't put a link here because I don't mean to be 'selling' -- just wanted to make a suggestion.

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Average in Everett, Massachusetts

30 months ago

abeedle in Salem, Virginia said:

Check out an aggregator site that just scrapes freelance gigs. A friend of mine and I built one just for us and then a bunch of our friends started using it. Now it's become a legit business in its own right (you never know where projects may lead huh?). It's called gigmagnethq - - but I won't put a link here because I don't mean to be 'selling' -- just wanted to make a suggestion.

Right, but can you really compete with the rest of the world in terms of wages? Can you and your friends live on ten dollars an hour? I suppose the answer is yes if you three of you live in one apartment.

If the answer is yes, can you and your friends live on eight dollars an hour five years from now?

Can you and your friends live on six dollars an hour, ten years from now?

Globalization means falling labor costs for the foreseeable future and while the decline in hourly rates are not anywhere as steep as the ones I showcased in my example, wages are anything but rising.

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Vintage_Girl in Singapore, Singapore

29 months ago

I just quit as a 7yrs experienced designer in my late twenties. Looking into career switch for banking, admin or integrated resort jobs (Jobs that is more stable as my prev design company owes me alot of pay). Unemployed for mths, but still holding on and hopeful to search for jobs:)

To be a good designer, we need to be on the ball (OT into LATE nites but report to work early the next morn), think of ideas all the TIME, know EVERY softwares related to design WELL (as nowadays companies only want designers who knows Flash, Web, Video, Programming, 3D even though you only studied Graphic design in school), able to BEAR critism and impossible requirements from clients, FAST worker, FLEXIBLE with any kind of designs execution, able to translate your designs well to clients and must be VERY VERY VERY patient with MANY rounds of amendments to and fro, have very good temple as some clients gave jobs to you but they drop the project after you have done the 1st round or they just make you keep amending the artwork.

My passion in design is still there. But now i prefer it not to become my full-time job but rather sideline. When I'm free, I'll do illustrations or handicrafts for sale. It feels so much better. (*v*) There are many ways to get involve in designs and art. And there are many forms of design areas.

If you have exploding passion like me, then keep the design passion and try it in many other areas too, at the same time settle for a stable non-design job that brings in the bread and pays the rent.

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Vintage_Girl in Singapore, Singapore

29 months ago

I just quit as a 7yrs experienced designer in my late twenties. Looking into career switch for banking, admin or integrated resort jobs (Jobs that is more stable as my prev design company owes me alot of pay). Unemployed for mths, but still holding on and hopeful to search for jobs:)

To be a good designer, we need to be on the ball (OT into LATE nites but report to work early the next morn), think of ideas all the TIME, know EVERY softwares related to design WELL (as nowadays companies only want designers who knows Flash, Web, Video, Programming, 3D even though you only studied Graphic design in school), able to BEAR critism and impossible requirements from clients, FAST worker, FLEXIBLE with any kind of designs execution, able to translate your designs well to clients and must be VERY VERY VERY patient with MANY rounds of amendments to and fro, have very good temple as some clients gave jobs to you but they drop the project after you have done the 1st round or they just make you keep amending the artwork.

My passion in design is still there. But now i prefer it not to become my full-time job but rather sideline. When I'm free, I'll do illustrations or handicrafts for sale. It feels so much better. (*v*) There are many ways to get involve in designs and art. And there are many forms of design areas.

If you have exploding passion like me, then keep the design passion and try it in many other areas too, at the same time settle for a stable non-design job that brings in the bread and pays the rent.

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jimm in Torrance, California

29 months ago

GDesigner in El Cajon, California said: For myself, I have been a graphic designer for 10 years and now I can't find a job in the field. I live in the San Diego area and it's extremely saturated with designers as well. I'm turning 36 this year and am not working in the field at all. I have to compete with the way younger crowd. I am like most here on the forum, I do know print really well and some web design to get by, but I'm not a programmer, I can't stand flash and java script.
That program makes no sense to me at all. No matter how many times I use Lynda.com I can't understand flash, it's just not my thing. So I'm out!

I've been taking adult classes at SDSU for digital media, which I'm learning about social media and video journalism. Just to see other options out there. I have thought of the medical field but, that's not me either. I've been trying to brain storm other talents I have. I like helping my friends with job searching so I was even thinking about being a recruiter. Just a thought. I figure sometimes being creative can't always bring in income, at least in my case. I hope everyone here finds their next adventure in life, whether it is graphic design, animation, web design, flight attendant or what ever your dreams may be!

This is what im worried about.I am going to attend college and graphic design is the ONLY thing that catches my attention I love anything with animation, 3-d, art ect. but its really tough getting a job in GD. Was it worth getting your degree?

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S12 in Alexandria, Virginia

29 months ago

4 years after graduation I still have a mountain of student loans and yet no real career in the design field just sporadic freelance gigs here and there. I would have picked a different major in college if I knew what I know about this field now. I feel that I made a mistake and it's too late to change paths. So I've just been trying to update and learn new skills. If you choose this field there is never gonna be any end to self-learning, updating, and training. And still you won't ever catch up to the changes in technologies. There is no appreciation for what designers do. Everyone thinks they can do the job you Andy's less time than you can donut with less money than you can do it for. It's becoming harder and harder to find a design job that doesn't expect you to know a series of scripting languages and web skills or even programming or development skills. Not all schools out there prepare their graduates for the real world. Almost every one I meet is a graphic designer these days and yes with a damn degree too all competing for the same jobs that require you to know way more than what your GD degree prepares you for. I would say at least get into web development and not GD.

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Spaci in Alexandria, Virginia

28 months ago

S12 in Alexandria, Virginia said: 4 years after graduation I still have a mountain of student loans and yet no real career in the design field just sporadic freelance gigs here and there. I would have picked a different major in college if I knew what I know about this field now. I feel that I made a mistake and it's too late to change paths. So I've just been trying to update and learn new skills. If you choose this field there is never gonna be any end to self-learning, updating, and training. And still you won't ever catch up to the changes in technologies. There is no appreciation for what designers do. Everyone thinks they can do the job you Andy's less time than you can donut with less money than you can do it for. It's becoming harder and harder to find a design job that doesn't expect you to know a series of scripting languages and web skills or even programming or development skills. Not all schools out there prepare their graduates for the real world. Almost every one I meet is a graphic designer these days and yes with a damn degree too all competing for the same jobs that require you to know way more than what your GD degree prepares you for. I would say at least get into web development and not GD.

Where did you get your degree?

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GD in Lawndale, California

27 months ago

I was a corporate graphic designer for 27 or so years and LOVED doing design for print. Sometimes I felt I was cheating my company by being paid to do something I loved so much.
What I saw there, over time, is what's going on in the general market - which is a lowering of standards. At one point when an internal customer decided our rates were too high he said he'd take the work home and have his high school son do it- he did have Photoshop, after all.. ;) In other words, creative ideas and a knowledge of the company's corporate identity program were worth nothing. Sad.
My department got laid off about 3 years ago- 1 artist took retirement, 1 took a job in the Midwest (the company was in CA) with a pay cut, I thought I could find a job or do freelance (I'm going to change fields now), and the fourth fellow bumped himself off.
Not that your daughter will run into that situation, but design has become a commodity not unlike, say, pencils. People just look for the lowest price anymore.
If she loves it, do it- or do it on the side... but just consider a backup plan.
Good luck!

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Leka in Langhorne, Pennsylvania

27 months ago

I am a freshman at art school and I was going to be a graphic designer from HS.
What would be a good major choice besides GD ?

Fibers & Material Studies,
Glass, Ceramics,
Metals/Jewelry,
Painting & Drawing,
Photography,
Printmaking,
Sculpture,
----Graphic & Interactive Design:(

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ZoeySnap in Orange County, California

27 months ago

GD in Lawndale, California said: My department got laid off about 3 years ago- 1 artist took retirement, 1 took a job in the Midwest (the company was in CA) with a pay cut, I thought I could find a job or do freelance (I'm going to change fields now), and the fourth fellow bumped himself off.

I am in a similar situation. Years as a graphic designer doing designs for print... which I love. Now I've been laid off for almost a year now and I don't have to tell any of you, having a rather difficult time finding a GD job that pays decent, is full time and doesn't require expert web design skills... HTML coding etc.

Lately I've been trying to start up a free lance business. I got my logo designed, my business cards printed, my website ready to go. That was the easy part. No clients though... ha! The joke's on me.

You're right, everybody who can sort of use Photoshop is suddenly a "graphic designer" these days. No one wants to pay someone for quality when they can have their teenage son do the job to save money.

Just out of curiosity GD in Lawndale, what are you changing fields to?

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karen in Indianapolis, Indiana

27 months ago

Why are you asking this? Just by reading the posts can't you see that she is spending a high price (monetarily) for a degree in a field that is extremely overpopulated? She will be lucky to earn $8-$11 an hour and have student loans that she will have great difficulty paying off. I have 35 yrs experience, the last 26 with a fortune 500 corporation. I was layed off a year ago and have not landed one single interview. I have come to terms with the idea that i need to go back to school to learn a new career. If you want your daughter to have a successful career, steer her away from the graphic design field.

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GD in Lawndale, California

27 months ago

Hi, ZoeySnap-
I do a few small GD jobs as I can pick them up, though they're not consistent at all. My husband and I have started a small business which, once it is generating more consistent income, will fund our retirement as we travel the country in the motorhome he's working on.
Are you looking at another line of work? Or are you okay with the GD field as it is? I'm curious about what you're considering... Let me know!
Thanks!

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Confused101 in Cape Town, South Africa

27 months ago

I graduated with an Advanced diploma in Graphic & Print Design last year in Cape Town. It was a 2 year course, covered the basics. Didn't include Web design whatsoever. I have been jobless for nearly 6 months now. I am so disappointed in my career choice even though I was 18 when I decided on this career path. I enjoy Graphic Design, but I have read through everyone's comments on this site and by the looks of it, there's just no future ahead of me and one person said, if you can get out of this field, do it NOW! Now I have 4 years of depth ahead of me, no money to study something else and was forced to move from Cape Town back home to live with my parents. The situation seems the same around the world even down here in South Africa I've read. I can maybe find a job with some Web experience, but I don't want to build websites until I die one day. I just turned 21 and I am terrified. I also want a decent living and be able to sustain a family one day. My million dollar question is:”What now?” Which career path does look bright nowadays? In which direction should people in my shoes go now? If anyone can help or have some advice for me, please share!

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designer bee in Waukesha, Wisconsin

26 months ago

I wish I knew the answer. I have the same type of degree. I only took a few web classes (which I have to relearn again), but my degree is print design. That's what the school offered at the time. You could take a few web classes as your electives, but that wasn't enough to learn it all.

I have struggled with finding a job in GD for years. I used to get lots of interviews while in school, but without experience in design, I couldn't get the jobs. Now I have some experience, but all I can seem to find is part time jobs or temp jobs with long periods of unemployment.

The only options I see are learn more web design (I can't afford more school so self taught), keep trying for a print design job in a crappy economy, start my own business, or do something ordinary like became a secretary.

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ZoeySnap in Orange County, California

26 months ago

GD in Lawndale, California said: Hi, ZoeySnap-
I do a few small GD jobs as I can pick them up, though they're not consistent at all. My husband and I have started a small business which, once it is generating more consistent income, will fund our retirement as we travel the country in the motorhome he's working on.
Are you looking at another line of work? Or are you okay with the GD field as it is? I'm curious about what you're considering... Let me know!
Thanks!

Hi GD in Lawndale! After 11 months of unemployment I started my new job 3 weeks ago. My job title is marketing assistant. Very little creativity... mostly production and paperwork, but I'm not complaining. So far so good! It's tough getting back into the swing of a 9 to 5 job though. Not to mention sitting on the 5 freeway for 45 minutes each way...lol.

Good luck luck to you and your husband with your business!

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karen in Indianapolis, Indiana

26 months ago

jimm in Torrance, California said: This is what im worried about.I am going to attend college and graphic design is the ONLY thing that catches my attention I love anything with animation, 3-d, art ect. but its really tough getting a job in GD. Was it worth getting your degree?

NO!!!!

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Talky in Bethpage, New York

26 months ago

tinyplanet in Lake Stevens, Washington said: [QUOTE who="I am 47 (in great shape, I am told often I look like I'm in my early thirties)

How is this relevant to this forum? Who cares about whether or not your in "great shape"? Are you looking for a date?

Sounds like someone ISN'T very fit and is a little jealous. Studies show that fit people get higher paying jobs. So, if you're a puny runt in hipster clothes listening to Bowling fo Soup all day you'll likely stay a jr designer. No one wants to be put into a box, but that's real life. Image is what's important and why so many people are relagated to lowly positions despite talent while coworkers are often promoted outside of their ability into high paying positions. It's presentaion that counts.

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Looking myself in Central, New Jersey

26 months ago

I suspect what is really going on here is connection. Can you connect with the people who are hiring, not so much as a pal, but on a subtler level, as someone they believe is on their wavelength, who gets them, who they can work with to get their graphic work done as best to their specs.

But then again:

(sorry, the link is perceived by the filter as a phone number, I guess, so look for)

by Schumpeter
In praise of misfits
Why business needs people with Asperger’s syndrome, attention-deficit disorder and dyslexia

Jun 2nd 2012 | from the print edition

Folks are sending this around the internet.

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Looking myself in Central, New Jersey

26 months ago

[In REPLY to the comment attaching jealousy to the person who questioned the relevance of the fit and 30s looking comment]

I suspect what is really going on here is connection. Can you connect with the people who are hiring, not so much as a pal, but on a subtler level, as someone they believe is on their wavelength, who gets them, who they can work with to get their graphic work done as best to their specs. Do you seem to have the physical energy to do the work, and the social energy it requires too? Fair enough considerations, but:

But then again:

(sorry, the link is perceived by the filter as a phone number, I guess, so look for)

by Schumpeter
In praise of misfits
Why business needs people with Asperger’s syndrome, attention-deficit disorder and dyslexia

Jun 2nd 2012 | from the print edition

Folks are sending this around the internet. Very interesting.

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Adam Kralic in Bloomingdale, Illinois

25 months ago

I too have the same story as everyone else. I graduated in 99...was President of Student Council, Editor of Yearbook, etc.
I have a dozen years' experience in the field ranging from small startups to being a Senior Art Director on national accounts at a Chicago ad agency.
EVERY TIME the economy is bad? The entire industry suffers tremendously. Design is the exact opposite of a stable field. I would not suggest it as a career path to anyone.
I actually have worked the industry...many of my classmates never got off the ground so to speak. (As in almost 3/4 of them) Why would someone go into major debt for a 1 in 4 or heck even a 1 in 2 chance at being me?

I have web experience...but far more print. I can do Flash, Dreamweaver...and of course ALL of the major print programs. I send out 100s of résumés per year...get callbacks on maybe 1%
of them. (It's been like this for a few years now) I have some freelance work on the side...but the client is now a slow payer...and my bills are starting to get ahead of my checks.
IS THIS REALLY THE LIFE YOU WANT UNTIL "THE END?" Living pay check to pay check? FOREVER? <--- and that is if you are "lucky?" Lucky?

Oh and if we are "keeping score?" My best year freelance was about 60k. In 12 years...I had one GOOD year and a handful of decent ones. This is not a great career path people.

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Terry in Carlsbad, California

24 months ago

I was partners in a hand-lettered sign shop in the 80s. We purchased one of the first computer vinyl letter cutters on the market. It was so difficult making a living in such a labor intensive craft! We fortunately sold the business in 1993 before the digital sign shops flooded the market. I graduated from a 2 year extension program in graphic design at UCSD and worked in print design and production for 14 years until a layoff got me in 2008. Tons of applications, portfolio reviews, interviews got nowhere and now I work in maintenance at Nordstrom. It sucks. And now I look forward to a career change that at my age, my parents were looking forward to retirement. It surely is too competitive, not unless a person could afford Art Center, and perhaps pursue an applied design career such as industrial design, game dev, or apparel design.
A job portal for the active sports industry, Malakye.com has a LOT of openings in the design field, mainly in apparel and equipment.

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Nick in Seymour, Connecticut

24 months ago

Karl in Adelaide, Australia said: Let's relegate the system responsible for this global fiasco to the garbage can of history...Enough of 'Greed Heil, greed heil, greed heil!"...Time to try something different folks!

The system isnt responsible for this global fiasco... big government spending is.

And not for nothing... but what you are basically saying is that you arent happy other people are making money and you call them greedy, so YOU can make the money or steal it from them.

Hypocrisy at its finest.

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Nick in Seymour, Connecticut

24 months ago

Karl in Adelaide, Australia said: Let's relegate the system responsible for this global fiasco to the garbage can of history...Enough of 'Greed Heil, greed heil, greed heil!"...Time to try something different folks!

The system isnt responsible for this global fiasco... big government spending is.

And not for nothing... but what you are basically saying is that you arent happy other people are making money and you call them greedy, so YOU can make the money or steal it from them.

Hypocrisy at its finest.

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Nick in Seymour, Connecticut

24 months ago

karen in Indianapolis, Indiana said: If you want your daughter to have a successful career, steer her away from the graphic design field.

Sorry, but thats pretty bad advice. Graphic Design careers are not like accounting or history degrees. You cant teach creativity. You can teach people how to use the programs, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc... but its worthless if all you can create are lens flared images. GD careers are comparable to chefs or musicians... you either have it or you dont. Sure, there are plenty of mom and pops who can cook a good meal or play the piano or guitar... but it doesnt make you a chef or a rock star.

The best advice for anyone interested in graphic design is to get their portfolio reviewed by experts. Anyone interested in getting a graphic design degree SHOULD already have tons of sketches and drawing or something that shows why you want to be a GD. If you want to get a GD degree just to be able to get paid to use Photoshop and learn how to create posters and how the printing process works but you can only draw stick figures... then you probably wont succeed as a GD even if you get a 4.0. The best artists or graphic designers have been artists all their lives.

So NO ONE here is qualified to give advice on a GD career unless you work as an Art Director and you've seen their portfolio. I've seen GD make $60k a year here in NYC area

I've seen plenty of movies, know which movies make tons of money, and know the process of creating movies... but it doesnt make me a Director

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runs-wild.com in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

24 months ago

Great perspective Karen!

You CANNOT teach talent and that is the bottom line.

If you're are thinking that you're going to make massive amounts of money in this field, then think again. I make a very comfortable salary, but the true reward is in the creativity itself. I don't do templates, Wordpress is a blog tool, not a custom website solution.

And quite frankly I find myself becoming very angry with all the "hacks" out there who know how to use the software but don't know how to create a novel solution. It diminishes my skillset and also diminishes my salary. Anyone can "plug" content into a template, but can "anyone" truly create?

Don't try GD unless you truly LOVE to create/design. Now-a-days you'll be making $30K, but at least you will love what you do...

PEACE!

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runs-wild.com in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

24 months ago

Sorry! I said Karen, I meant Nick... good outlook! Our community needs to stand up and weed out all of the people who "attempt" to do thins line of work.

Let's face it, EVERYONE wants to be the "designer" and we all know it.

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Calam in Warwick, Rhode Island

24 months ago

runs-wild.com in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania said: Great perspective Karen!
Don't try GD unless you truly LOVE to create/ design . Now-a-days you'll be making $30K, but at least you will love what you do...PEACE!

Exactly Runs Wild - this isn't the kind of job you necessarily get if you want to make 50K out of the gate. There a lot of real graphic designers and, sadly, fake graphic designers out there in the market so they don't have to pay you like they might a more specialized position. It's flooded and a lot of companies don't understand what good design is or how it can help them - so they hire the hacks that know the super, super basics of the Adobe Suite and send out a bunch of crappy looking stuff.

I'm actually in the process of cleaning up after a hack like that - the job I'm at had hired a hack prior to me and she made a mess of the filing systems and left no instructions after she notified the company that she was leaving. It took me twice as long to get settled and get everything taken care of (and to learn who I'm supposed to order supplies from, how to submit bills, how to fix the big printer, etc) because the person who was in the role before me sucked. I also have to spend a ridiculous amount of time cleaning up her files (no, no, it's totally cool that you have everything on ONE layer in illustrator for this menu. great use of myriad for everything you made while you were here too).

Dah, sorry about the rant. But basically if you think you want to be a graphic designer then read up on it - check out design books, do tutorials, study traditional art (for f*&k's sake learn how to draw, about shading and lighting, etc etc), practice at home. The best graphic designers I have known eat, sleep, and breathe design. They gush over packaging and typography. They LOVE it. If you don't love it...then it isn't the field for you. Graphic design isn't like ...being a cashier. Not everyone can walk into it and learn how to do it.

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Jacqui in Australia

24 months ago

spayne729 in Phoenix, Arizona said: Thank you so much for this forum even if it is old. I am going through all of this now, being a designer for almost 15+ years and now Im 35 and feel lost. Everyone is learning design from home now and pay isnt what my last job was nor is the desire from me there anymore. I am thinking of going back to school but to do what? Im so lost in my life right now and this forum helps me at least now I am not alone. Thank you all. xoxo, shannon

My situation is identicle to yours. Did you find an answer? Jacqui

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Alice3 in Dunwoody, Georgia

24 months ago

Career change. How are you supposed to get that when they wont give you a chance? I have 30 - 40 yrs office experience. I applied for a vet receptionist. I think I can make appts. No experience in a vets office? Oh my. Exployers dont want to train you or teach you. I even asked the guy how am I supposed to get the experience if no one will hire me???? Ohhhhh silence to that one. Years ago employers invested in their employees. Today no. You are supposed to be born with this knowledge. Teach you? Show you? Ohhhhhhh no they dont have "time".

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Average in Medford, Massachusetts

24 months ago

Alice3 in Dunwoody, Georgia said: Career change. How are you supposed to get that when they wont give you a chance? I have 30 - 40 yrs office experience. I applied for a vet receptionist. I think I can make appts. No experience in a vets office? Oh my. Exployers dont want to train you or teach you. I even asked the guy how am I supposed to get the experience if no one will hire me???? Ohhhhh silence to that one. Years ago employers invested in their employees. Today no. You are supposed to be born with this knowledge. Teach you? Show you? Ohhhhhhh no they dont have "time".

Employers and schools embrace the belief in aptitude, to the extent that no real training is necessary anymore. An aptitude based outlook says that if you are good, you will figure it out or you would have already figured it out. This belief is prevalent in the graphic design field and the i.t. field, where a lot can be self taught.

On the other hand, I have found that some very successful people had mentors and extensive training on top of their talent in the past. . . but I'm sure there were at least a few people who learned something that takes most people years literally overnight because they had a serious knack for it back then. The difference is now, the people who can learn disciplines overnight are seen as normal and those who need training are seen below normal.

I guess with a larger population of workers then 50 years ago, and a smaller increase in net new jobs, there's more competition and standards of employers have risen in reaction to the larger pool of workers.

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karen in Indianapolis, Indiana

24 months ago

Shannon I'm in the same boat after 35 yrs as a graphic designer. I had always enjoyed having a career that allowed me to be creative and paid quite well. Those days seem to be in the past. After being laid off, I've had zero success in my hunt for another graphics position (even though I was willing to make half of what I used to earn). At 54 I'm too young to retire so now I'm trying to figure out what my next career will be. Talk to people in professions that seem interesting to you. College counselors will tell you anything to get you enrolled...just look at all the art students coming out of the schools with ba's and only making 8 bucks and hour.

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Zee23 in New York, New York

24 months ago

My experience in case this helps anyone add to their picture of what working in the Graphic Design industry is like:

I went to grad school @ a top NYC design school @ age 30 to change careers. Upon graduation in 2006 I had 90k in student loan debt, but was able to get hired right after graduating using the school's Career Development dept. I do think the location helped...there are a lot of designers/competition in NYC, but the positive side of that is that there is a very strong community of good designers here, and my school specifically had strong network of very successful designers from the area.

I felt that my school had given me good basics...they taught me that the main skill in design is your thought process, for example, what's the reason behind your campaign idea or website "experience" or magazine layout, etc...and then they taught us how to use visual balance, typography, & color to convey that main message. I also felt that they did NOT prepare me for a career in which interactive design is so important.

I started working at an ad agency and found that thinking through interactivity like for a website or mobile app, etc. is just as important a skill as knowing what fonts to use, etc...and for me I found that it's a COMPLETELY different thought process than coming up with an identity design or print campaign. Because I worked at a small place, I had to start learning a little bit of coding, b/c they didn't have developers available to work on smaller jobs like banner ads. That eventually led me more into the tech/coding side of the industry. So far that's turned out to be something employers want...designers that understand tech, and coders that are creative.

One thing this experience has taught me is that there are degrees of knowledge. In 5 years of working in this industry at major agencies, I have not seen one person that can both come up with a Cannes Lions award winning integrated campaign AND code an iOS app, for instance...but

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Zee23 in New York, New York

24 months ago

but I have seen good designers who dabble in code enough to be able to communicate with the developers building their designs. So I think that a lot of job descriptions that ask for graphic designers who know html, JS [insert latest technology here] are not realistically finding that all in one person. I think they're asking for the ideal of what they want, then reviewing who they get and finding the person that has the best balance of skills that match with them...but that doesn't necessarily mean they're finding that person that has expert-level knowledge in both.

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Zee23 in New York, New York

24 months ago

For salary info, I'd suggest looking at professional design organizations that do salary surveys, like AIGA or sites like glass door, b/c they poll working professionals and give you the info by specific design job title and location.

Also, this is just my experience, but the hours are long in every job in this industry I've had. It's Saturday night and I was taking a break from work to look on this forum...and I have a full day of work all day Sunday too. Plus, you are definitely going to need to spend time outside of work educating yourself about current trends. From what I've seen, if you're not agile in this profession, your work will be given to someone who's more current.

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Zee23 in New York, New York

24 months ago

Just for the record, 85 to 90% of the people I have worked with since I started in this industry are in their 20's & 30's. Older than that are usually senior level people like Executive Creative Directors or Associate Directors, etc., but I don't know any in their late 50's or 60's in this profession. That's just my experience though, not saying that's what it's like everywhere.

Outsourcing: I'm seeing coding jobs being sent to India, Korea & South America, but the quality isn't as good so far as what we do in-house. The high-profile jobs are usually kept in-house, where Creative can be in close contact with Development...for the moment.

My question for you guys if anyone's still reading my LONG post ;) ... WHAT CAREER ARE YOU IN NOW IF YOU'RE AN EX-DESIGNER IN YOUR 50'S? I love design but don't think I can keep doing the marathon endurance test this profession is until I'm retirement age.

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Zee23 in New York, New York

24 months ago

Oh & by the way, I make enough to have a life in NYC area (75+k) but student loans are crippling...don't know if I'll be able to buy a place to live or retire when I want, even with a good salary.

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Looking for new job in Loveland, Colorado

24 months ago

I'm 56 and am still in the profession. I've kept up with technology and programs. Can't say I still have the passion I once had and am pretty stagnant in terms of salary (settled in at $60K for the past 5-6 years) but at least I still am employed...for now.

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Brent M Jones in Toronto, Ontario

24 months ago

There are a ton of interesting comments in this forum.

I myself am a recruiter, and what caught my eye about the title of the thread was wanting to make a career change.

[Advertisement and URL removed by Indeed Moderator]

My best advice to someone looking to change careers is to remember that it isn't easy. Companies give out jobs - not careers. You build a career. And sometimes that means building it from the bottom up, which takes time.

Having a job means a company values your skills.
Having a successful career means an entire industry values your skills.

Good luck to everyone who posted here in your career goals.

-Brent

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Katie in Littleton, Colorado

24 months ago

Looking for new job in Loveland, Colorado said: I'm 56 and am still in the profession. I've kept up with technology and programs. Can't say I still have the passion I once had and am pretty stagnant in terms of salary (settled in at $60K for the past 5-6 years) but at least I still am employed...for now.

I am curious -- what technology have you kept up with? Just wondering what has kept you credible at your age.

I am even older (60! -- though people are surprised when they find out I'm over 50. Have my photo on my site). Have years of excellent corporate and agency experience. Updated skills through community college (1.5 years) all CS5, incl DW and Flash -- but feel I'm still not up-to-date. Suddenly it's HTML5, CSS3, video, social media. I'm an excellent concept person, excellent print designer - as well as excellent in illustrator and photoshop.

Now that my mother has passed away, I'm trying to get out of freelance and back into a company. Cannot even get an interview, recruiters won't even look at my website. (Google stats show nothing). I don't state my age, have halved my career history, clearly state that I'm flexible (even cheap) salary wise. I've seen younger, less experienced and mediocre designers get jobs where I'm not even considered. (via LinkedIn updates). I don't know how to get anyone to take me seriously.

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designer bee in Waukesha, Wisconsin

24 months ago

It is a pain to even try to keep up with it all. I always seem to be 5 steps behind what they all want because they want the impossible jack of all trades. I don't think that employers would ask for so much if they actually knew what it all takes to even learn all that and be good at it. The software that we use is complicated enough without adding all the other stuff to it.

I think you forgot to add photography, copywriting, programming, Word Press, Joomla, Java, Actionscript, MS Office, and about 10 other things to your list. Makes my head spin.

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Katie in Littleton, Colorado

24 months ago

designer bee in Waukesha, Wisconsin said: It is a pain to even try to keep up with it all. I always seem to be 5 steps behind what they all want because they want the impossible jack of all trades. I don't think that employers would ask for so much if they actually knew what it all takes to even learn all that and be good at it. The software that we use is complicated enough without adding all the other stuff to it.

I think you forgot to add photography, copywriting, programming, Word Press, Joomla, Java, Actionscript, MS Office, and about 10 other things to your list. Makes my head spin.

Yes - all of that + I've seen PR and strategic marketing skills too. And, to add insult to injury, have seen receptionist salaries higher than that of some jobs for designers with advanced skills. ($20/hr vs $8 - 12). I used to hire production staff (no design) for $25/hr back in 1995.

Are you staying employed -- with your dignity intact?

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