Graphic Design Specialists
|Recommended Degree Level||Bachelor|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||191,440|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||4.2%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||12,380|
What's needed: Most firms don't require graphic design specialists to hold a degree. Prospective employers will place emphasis on a portfolio of your completed works when making a hiring decision. However, an A.A. or B.A. in graphic design or marketing can prove to potential employers that you are competent in the field.
What you study:
When completing a graphic design degree, you are likely to study all of the following:
- Principles of Design
- Color Theory and Design
- Computer Illustration
- Vector Illustration
- Digital Photography
A Day in the Life
When you work as a graphic design specialist, you'll encounter new creative challenges everyday. In the morning, you'll head to work at either a design firm or a large corporation. Once you've gained experience in this field, you can work for yourself as a freelance graphic design specialist. No matter where you work, you begin your day in your office reviewing the week's projects. You check the schedule for the completion of each project to ensure that you're on schedule to meet deadlines.
You're settled in for the day, so you call a client to clarify the color scheme they want for a print advertisement. You work to develop a color scheme and make sure that it will look just as good printed as it does on your computer screen. You may even work as part of a design team that completes projects together.
The majority of your daily work will be completed at a computer. You use graphic design, illustration and photo manipulation programs every day. You've got a lot of freedom to choose the projects that you want to work on, so you may focus on creating marketing materials or you may create covers for items such as CDs, DVDs and books.
On an average day, you'll have the opportunity to work on two to three different projects. You won't get bored while working because you'll have so many different projects to complete. You take breaks regularly to stretch and to refresh your creative energy. If you work for yourself as a freelance graphic designer, you probably begin every day by making phone calls or sending letters to prospective clients. Today you've landed a new freelance client, so you'll need to write a contract and collect a deposit for your work.
You've finished a project you've been working on for weeks and now you're meeting with the clients to show them the finished product. You listen to client feedback and make requested changes to the product. Once the product is finished, you are asked to work with website designers or a printing firm to ensure that the project is presented correctly online or in print.
Certifications and Licensing
While no special certification is needed to work as a graphic design specialist, most professionals in this field do complete training in specialized computer programs that are used in graphic design. Many design specialists pursue certification from Adobe, the company that makes the widely used Adobe Creative Suite.
Full-time versus part-time:
Graphic design specialists can work either part- or full-time schedules. Many experienced designers are allowed to set their own schedules so long as they complete projects within an agreed-upon timeframe. Freelance designers have total freedom to set their own work hours.
Most graphic designers have the freedom to work from a home office or other off-site location for at least part of their workweek. Those individuals who work for themselves as freelance designers have total freedom in regards to their worksite.
- U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook for Graphic Designers: The Bureau of Labor Statistics website provides information about the career outlook, salary prospects and employment trends for graphic design specialists. The majority of the information on the website is based on statistical data. Individuals who are interested in becoming graphic designers should also visit sites with more qualitative data.
- Graphic Artists Guild: The Graphic Artists Guild website provides a wide variety of resources for graphic design specialists. They offer information about pricing graphic design work, interfacing with clients and developing professional skills. This website is suitable for both beginning and experienced professionals in this field.
- American Institute of Graphic Arts: The AIGA website provides a job board and information about contests and competitions in the field of graphic arts. This website also has excellent resources for individuals who are interested in pursuing graphic arts training or furthering their skills in the field.
- The Graphic Professionals Resource Network: Popularly known as the IAPHC, the Network provides a wide variety of resources for professional graphic designers. A member directory is particularly helpful for graphic designers who are new to the field and are looking for networking opportunities.