11 Types of Graphic Design Jobs To Explore
Updated May 26, 2023
A career in graphic design can be an exciting way to combine art, technology and communication. These professionals are needed on many projects in a variety of fields, including marketing and advertising, publishing, healthcare and digital communications. As you begin exploring jobs in graphic design, it is beneficial to understand your career prospects and what various positions entail. In this article, we explore 11 common graphic design jobs—including their average salaries, duties and requirements.
What do graphic designers do?
Graphic designers create graphics and layouts for a wide variety of products, including company logos, websites, clothing, books, games and product user manuals. These professionals must possess a strong knowledge of color theory, image construction, font types and many other artistic principles to determine the strongest appeal to the brand's target market. They use a variety of computerized design programs to sketch new designs and incorporate existing brand details to create innovative designs that appeal to the brand's target demographic.
Graphic design jobs typically require the following skills and qualifications:
Computerized sketching abilities
Creativity and innovation
Understanding of audience targeting
Proficiency in computer-aided design (CAD) software, including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, InDesign, Corel Graphics Suite or Paintshop Pro
Types of graphic design jobs
A degree relating to graphic design can be beneficial for a range of careers. The best job for you depends on your interests, skills, career goals and values. Here are 11 graphic design-related jobs to explore as you begin your job search:
1. Photo editor
National average salary: $16.32 per hour
Primary duties: Photo editors work with real-life images to adjust, color-correct or combine images to create the desired final image. Image editing can be as simple as adjusting the lighting and color balance on a photograph or as drastic as changing garment colors or adding logo information or banners to the image.
Careers focusing on editing photography have less of an emphasis on graphic design, but they require a complete knowledge of Photoshop, which is typically covered in a graphic design program. It is often beneficial for companies to employ a designer who can alter images when the product image does not accurately represent the final product, as images may need to be taken before a design is finalized.
Requirements: An in-depth knowledge of Photoshop and other photo-editing software is required. Many companies may prefer an associate or bachelor's degree in photography, graphic design or product design, but it may not be required for candidates who possess expert knowledge of photo-editing software and have a strong portfolio of work.
National average salary: $17.67 per hour
Primary duties: Apparel graphic designers create individual, original images for clothing. They develop a strong understanding of the brand's customers and ensure their graphics are cohesive and visually appealing to that audience. They design a variety of images and font-based graphics for screen printing on shirts, pocket-placed embroidery designs and any other special designs or prints the brand's design executives want to include on their clothing.
This graphic designer works in CAD programs to develop the graphic and scale to fit within the clothing pattern size. They use creativity to display color in a simple, but noticeable way, as printing is often limited to eight or fewer colors.
Requirements: A Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design and previous apparel graphic design experience—whether an internship or in an entry-level role—is typically required. These graphic designers may be employed by the apparel brand or by a third-party agency that designs graphics on a contract basis for multiple brands.
National average salary: $17.67 per hour
Primary Duties: Logo designers develop visually compelling graphics or symbols to represent a company, product, brand or service. They research the target demographic to gain a strong understanding of what symbols they find appealing and memorable. This designer then chooses distinct colors and shapes that relate to and establish the brand identity of the company or product. Logo designers must also be aware of other designs in the marketplace so they are not copying or recreating a trademarked logo.
Requirements: The job requirements of a logo designer will vary based on the company, but typically an associate or bachelor's degree in graphic design is required. Strong illustration abilities and an understanding of consumer advertising can be considered in place of a degree. Logo designers can work on a freelance basis or full-time for an advertising agency, both of which are likely to require a strong portfolio.
National average salary: $21.32 per hour
Primary duties: Packaging designers—or production designers—develop the box, container and labels on a product to protect the product during shipping and communicate important features to the customer. They use CAD software to write product details in an appropriate font, add graphics to explain the functions and show what the product looks like or how to use it. They often design the package as a marketing tool as well, so they partner with marketing and product design specialists to convey the important product details to the customer.
Requirements: A bachelor's degree in graphic design, product design or art is typically required for a career in packaging design. Employers commonly prefer previous graphic or packaging design experience and a strong knowledge of their customers.
5. Web designer
National average salary: $22.32 per hour
Primary duties: Web designers assist in developing websites by creating individual web pages, designing page layouts and developing graphics for the website. They are also responsible for designing the navigation menus, drop-down options and the website's structure. They may have coding and programming skills, which would allow them to completely develop the website on their own. Web designers partner with the website's brand or marketing team to determine what content is included on each page and where to place graphics, as well as to ensure continuity as consumers browse the website.
Requirements: As online sales and advertising continue to grow, employers are seeking web designers with a strong knowledge of technology, website layout design, programming and graphic design. Most jobs require previous web design experience, a strong portfolio and at least an associate degree related to web or graphic design.
National average salary: $57,645 per year
Primary duties: Multimedia designers create complex animated images and videos using art and computerized animation programs. They plan out the animation by sketching, creating scale models and developing computerized graphics to build the story. They are responsible for developing the graphics for the story's characters, background scenes and props.
Multimedia designers can work in a variety of fields including television or film production, set design and video game development. If they work in film or set design, they may also be responsible for directing set assistants and lighting crew in the execution of their design intent.
Requirements: A career in multimedia design requires creative thinking and strong imaginative abilities to develop innovative, fantasy designs. Typically, an associate or bachelor's degree in a visually creative field, such as graphic design, multimedia digital art, web design or user experience design is required for multimedia designers. Many multimedia jobs also require previous experience producing videos and using CAD software.
National average salary: $62,930 per year
Primary duties: Advertising designers use graphic design, sketching and photography to create visually compelling marketing materials for a brand or company. They create billboards, magazine advertisements, website advertisements and any other requested promotional materials. They sketch or use CAD software to develop an initial concept based on marketing and public relations strategies. They may create a few variations of a concept to present to the advertising leadership, and they listen to the leadership's feedback to perfect the final design.
Requirements: A career in advertising design requires a strong knowledge of design and marketing techniques. Many jobs require a Bachelor's Degree in Graphic or CAD Design as well as a strong knowledge of the employer's customers. Coursework in advertising, marketing or business can also help these professionals develop a working knowledge of best advertising practices.
National average salary: $72,184 per year
Primary duties: Publication designers develop the layout, visual appearance and graphics for a range of printed publications. Companies that create annual reports, research papers, books, catalogs and user manuals use internal or freelance publication designers to add images and graphics to the written information. These images help make the data easier to read and can elaborate on written topics by showing a graph or step-by-step instructions to complete a task in a manual. The designer is responsible for developing the images and graphs and incorporating them into the publication in a visually appealing manner.
Requirements: A bachelor's degree in graphic, visual, user experience or print design is typically required for a career in publication design. These designers possess a high level of creativity in translating written information into a sketch and developing the appropriate graph to best display data.
9. Art director
National average salary: $72,297 per year
Primary duties: The art director is a high-level executive responsible for guiding the design team's vision, directing the theme concept and overseeing all design artwork. They can work in a variety of industries including fashion, print publications, advertising, television or consumer products. The director may be employed by the brand or as a freelancer, but they always work closely with the client or sales team to understand their artistic vision.
The art director is responsible for reviewing and approving designs completed by the art and graphics teams. As an executive, the art director also works closely with the marketing, financial, creative and customer service directors to coordinate projects and maintain a consistent brand image.
Requirements: Art director positions typically require extensive experience in the related industry for a strong understanding of the business goals. A bachelor's degree in any art or design field is commonly required, but some employers may prefer candidates to have a master's degree in business or art.
National average salary: $78,080 per year
Primary duties: The user interface designer is responsible for ensuring every webpage or operational step of the final product follows the user experience (UX) designer's intent. They typically have basic coding skills and are able to develop the designer's vision by working with software programming experts. UI designers make webpages, advertisements and electronic programming easy for the consumer to interact with. They must ensure that the UX design is feasible and well-executed.
Requirements: A minimum of a two-year degree in UI design, graphic design or computer programming is commonly required for UI designers. However, some employers may prefer that prospective employees have a bachelor's degree. A solid background in all three specialties is beneficial for combining a strong design appearance with a functional technological interface.
National average salary: $89,250 per year
Primary duties: UX designers make products, services and websites enjoyable and accessible for users. They consider the intended end-use of the product and how the product feels to the consumer to ensure it is a user-friendly product or service. UX designers most commonly work in web design to make websites visually pleasing and easy for customers to navigate. They also work with other technology-based products, including software, gaming systems, computers and automobiles to develop visual aesthetics and graphics. UX designers ensure the product has a logical flow from one step to the next. They test the product under normal usage and resolve any inconsistencies in the appearance or flow.
Requirements: UX design roles typically require a two-year degree in UX design, graphic design or computer programming. Knowledge of all three specialties is beneficial for combining a strong design appearance with a functional product. Some employers may prefer candidates to have a bachelor's degree.
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