10 Graphic Design Careers You Can Pursue Without a Degree

Updated June 24, 2022

If you have artistic skills, a career in graphic design may be right for you. Although some graphic designers choose to hone their skills in a formal environment by earning a degree in design, there are many graphic design roles that don't have specific education requirements. If you have the skills and experience, there are several career paths in graphic design you can explore without spending time in a classroom. In this article, we review the different types of graphic design jobs you can get without a degree and explain their primary duties.

Related: 11 Types of Graphic Design Jobs To Explore

What are graphic design jobs?

Graphic design jobs are positions that involve creating or adjusting visual elements to evoke emotions or communicate ideas. Jobs in graphic design can involve designing all kinds of visual materials, from book covers to logos. People in graphic design positions may work independently or as part of a team to accomplish larger design projects. They use shape, color, format, texture, movement and text to produce a cohesive image that represents their client's goal for the project.

Related: FAQ: Do You Need a Degree To Be a Graphic Designer

10 graphic design jobs you can do without a degree

While hiring requirements for employers vary, here are some of the common graphic design positions you can get through practice, self-teaching and on-the-job training instead of a formal education:

1. Typesetter

National average salary: $29,050 per year

Primary duties: A typesetter is a publishing professional responsible for the graphic design layout of text for publications. They can use physical wooden or metal blocks to arrange lettering or use typography software to configure the appropriate spacing, size and appearance of text on a page. Typesetters create custom visual features for text elements like book titles and advertisements. They also review how text appears on a page to maximize readability and enhance the visual appeal of a published layout in a magazine, book, print or webpage.

2. Sign maker

National average salary: $41,347 per year

Primary duties: Sign makers design signs for customers based on their requests for colors, materials and design elements. They meet with customers to learn about their project, product pricing quotes, order materials, and prepare them for manufacturing. Sign makers can hand carve or paint designs, lettering and patterns into signs. They may also use computer graphics software and industrial machines or printers to mass-produce signs or sign elements.

3. Video editor

National average salary: $43,707 per year

Primary duties: Video editors adjust video clips and add post-production design elements to video footage to enhance the imagery. They trim clips, add visual effects, remove visual imperfections, sync the footage to music, overlay graphics and add animations to existing video clips. Video editors are responsible for achieving a specific aesthetic appeal for the video using graphic elements, video clip transitions and other production effects. They may work on movies, shows, music videos, advertisements and other types of media.

4. Web designer

National average salary: $47,563 per year

Primary duties: A web designer is in charge of designing a website's visual elements. They use a combination of graphic design software and code to make images appear on a computer screen in a particular way. Web designers may draw logos and headers, select background images, choose color palettes, determine the best spacing for text, edit website content and write code to uphold the visual appeal of a website on both computer browser and mobile platforms.

Related: Learn About Being a Web Designer

5. Graphic designer

National average salary: $49,777 per year

Primary duties: Graphic designers create all kinds of visual materials including logos, signs, magazine layouts, advertisements, graphs, report templates and advertisements. They may specialize in a certain type of graphic design or provide general graphic design services for a client. They use traditional art forms like pencil, pen and paint alongside digital graphic design software to create design files that clients can print or upload to their website. Graphic designers determine the best placement of images and text on a page, adding placeholders so that clients can add their own content to template images.

Related: Learn About Being a Graphic Designer

6. Illustrator

National average salary: $52,349 per year

Primary duties: Illustrators produce drawn images to accompany written text. They design images that add context to books, technical manuals, articles and other pieces of writing that need enhancement from a visual aid. Illustrators can use any type of artistic media to produce their drawings or paintings, depending on the style their client wants. Some illustrators create images for their own writing, while others collaborate with writers on shared projects.

7. Visual designer

National average salary: $61,585 per year

Primary duties: Visual designers are graphic designers who focus on using images to create a cohesive identity or brand image. They determine which colors, shapes and design elements best represent a company's brand identity and tell a compelling story about its products and services. Visual designers work to provide cohesive graphic design guidelines for all of a company's deliverables, including website materials, product designs, logos and merchandise.

8. Freelance designer

National average salary: $63,310 per year

Primary duties: Freelance graphic designers are self-employed individuals who work with clients to complete graphic design contracts. They manage their own website and portfolio, establish service rates, reach out to leads about potential jobs, set realistic timelines for projects and communicate with clients throughout the design process. Freelance designers send sketches to clients and ask for feedback to make adjustments, then update their designs to incorporate suggestions.

9. Video game designer

National average salary: $70,686 per year

Primary duties: Video game designers develop elements of video games including characters, props, environments and game mechanics. Some video game designers focus exclusively on the visual appearance of characters, video game levels and special effects, while others also work on the game's code. Video game designers consider the theme and plot of the game to develop interesting visual elements and innovative designs to engage the player.

10. Photo retoucher

National average salary: $71,477 per year

Primary duties: A photo retoucher is someone who edits, manipulates and enhances photographs to improve and change their appearance. They use design and photo editing software to make adjustments to how subjects look in photographs. Photo retouchers change the color, brightness and resolution of photos to improve their appearance. They may also add graphic design elements to the photographs or incorporate them into artworks and collage layouts.


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