Graphic designers create visual concepts, by hand or using computer software, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, or captivate consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports.


Graphic designers typically do the following: 

  • Meet with clients or the art director to determine the scope of a project
  • Advise clients on strategies to reach a particular audience
  • Determine the message the design should portray
  • Create images that identify a product or convey a message
  • Develop graphics for product illustrations, logos, and websites
  • Select colors, images, text style, and layout
  • Present the design to clients or the art director
  • Incorporate changes recommended by the clients into the final design
  • Review designs for errors before printing or publishing them

Graphic designers combine art and technology to communicate ideas through images and the layout of websites and printed pages. They may use a variety of design elements to achieve artistic or decorative effects.

Graphic designers work with both text and images. They often select the type, font, size, color, and line length of headlines, headings, and text. Graphic designers also decide how images and text will go together on a print or webpage, including how much space each will have. When using text in layouts, graphic designers collaborate closely with writers who choose the words and decide whether the words will be put into paragraphs, lists, or tables. Through the use of images, text, and color, graphic designers can transform statistical data into visual graphics and diagrams, which can make complex ideas more accessible.

Graphic design is important in the sales and marketing of products, and is a critical component of brochures and logos. Therefore, graphic designers, also referred to as graphic artists or communication designers, often work closely with people in advertising and promotions, public relations, and marketing.

Frequently, designers specialize in a particular category or type of client. For example, some create the graphics used in packaging for various types of retail products, while others may work on the visual design used on a book jacket.

Graphic designers also need to keep up to date with the latest software and computer technologies to remain competitive.

Some individuals with a background in graphic design teach in design schools, colleges, and universities. For more information, see the profile on postsecondary teachers.

Work Environment

Graphic designers held about 259,500 jobs in 2012.

The industries that employed the most graphic designers in 2012 were as follows:

Manufacturing 14%
Specialized design services 10
Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers 9
Advertising, public relations, and related services 8
Wholesale trade 5

Graphic designers generally work in studios where they have access to drafting tables, computers, and the software necessary to create their designs. Although many graphic designers work independently, those who work for specialized graphic design firms often work as part of a design team. Some designers telecommute. Many graphic designers collaborate with colleagues on projects or work with clients located around the world.

Work Schedules

Most graphic designers work full time, but schedules can vary depending on workload and deadlines.

In 2012, about 24 percent of graphic designers were self-employed. Graphic designers who are self-employed may need to adjust their workday to meet with clients in the evenings or on weekends. In addition, they may spend some of their time looking for new projects or competing with other designers for contracts.

Education and Training

Graphic designers usually need a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field. Candidates for graphic design positions should demonstrate their creativity and originality through a professional portfolio that features their best designs.


A bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field is usually required. However, those with a bachelor’s degree in another field may pursue technical training in graphic design to meet most hiring qualifications.

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits about 300 postsecondary colleges, universities, and independent institutes with programs in art and design. Most schools include studio art, principles of design, computerized design, commercial graphics production, printing techniques, and website design. In addition, students should consider courses in writing, marketing, and business, all of which are useful in helping designers work effectively on project teams.

Many programs provide students with the opportunity to build a professional portfolio of their designs. This means collecting examples of their designs from classroom projects, internships, or other experiences. Students can use these examples of their work to demonstrate their design skills when applying for jobs and bidding on projects. A good portfolio often is the deciding factor in getting a job.

Students interested in graphic design programs should take basic art and design courses in high school, if the courses are available. Many bachelor's degree programs require students to complete a year of basic art and design courses before being admitted to a formal degree program. Some schools require applicants to submit sketches and other examples of their artistic ability.

Graphic designers must keep up with new and updated computer graphics and design software, either on their own or through formal software training programs. Professional associations that specialize in graphic design, such as AIGA and the Graphic Artists Guild, offer courses intended to keep the skills of their members up to date.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certification programs are generally available through software product vendors. Certification in graphic design software can demonstrate a level of competence and may provide a jobseeker with a competitive advantage.


Beginning graphic designers usually need 1 to 3 years of work experience before they can advance to higher positions. Experienced graphic designers may advance to chief designer, art or creative director, or other supervisory positions.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Graphic designers must be able to look at their work from the point of view of their consumers and examine how the designs they develop will be perceived by the consumer to ensure they convey the client’s desired message.

Artistic ability. Graphic designers must be able to create designs that are artistically interesting and appealing to clients and consumers. They produce rough illustrations of design ideas, either by hand sketching or by using a computer program.

Communication skills. Graphic designers must communicate with clients, customers, and other designers to ensure that their designs accurately reflect the desired message and effectively express information.

Computer skills. Most graphic designers use specialized graphic design software to prepare their designs.

Creativity. Graphic designers must be able to think of new approaches to communicating ideas to consumers. They develop unique designs that convey a recognizable meaning on behalf of their clients.

Time-management skills. Graphic designers often work on multiple projects at the same time, each with a different deadline.


The median annual wage for graphic designers was $44,150 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,250, and the top 10 percent earned more than $77,490.

Most graphic designers work full time, but schedules can vary depending on workload and deadlines.

In 2012, about 24 percent of graphic designers were self-employed. Graphic designers who are self-employed may need to adjust their workday to meet with clients in the evenings or on weekends. In addition, they may spend some of their time looking for new projects or competing with other designers for contracts.

Job Outlook

Employment of graphic designers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Graphic designers will continue to play important roles in the marketing of products.

The change in employment of graphic designers from 2012 to 2022 is projected to vary by industry. Employment of graphic designers in newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers is projected to decline 16 percent from 2012 to 2022. However, employment of graphic designers in computer systems design and related services is projected to grow 35 percent over the same period. With the increased use of the Internet, graphic designers will be needed to create designs and images for portable devices, websites, electronic publications, and video entertainment media.

Job Prospects

Graphic designers are expected to face strong competition for available positions. Many talented individuals are attracted to careers as graphic designers. Prospects will be better for job applicants who work with various types of media, such as websites and print publications.

For More Information

For more information about graphic design, visit


Graphic Artists Guild

For more information about art and design and a list of accredited college-level programs, visit

National Association of Schools of Art and Design

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2014–2015 Occupational Outlook Handbook,


Guest (not verified) says...

I am in a Career Center class, its a class that helps you build on your skills for what ever career you choose and I am in the class Graphic Design and i think its really helping me im on my seocnd year of it and you can definitally see a diference in when i first started to now. I want this to be my career but i dont really have the grades to go to college, thank you for your time.

Hannah Arroyo (not verified) says...

Jobs now in the area of graphic design or anything involving arts and design will require at least an associate or bachelor degree when you apply for a job in that career. Going to college will definitely help you gain great information on graphic design and you will immerse yourself in projects that will help with your portfolio. For graphic design at school you can learn the foundation, history and techniques of graphic design. However, the internet as a lot of great videos and tutorials veered toward the same content you can learn at college and you can find free classes either online or onsite in your home area by searching on the internet. College is just a path for further knowledge towards your degree that can help you get a job towards what you want to study. However, your portfolio, talent and internships is what counts the most than some college degree on a paper. People hiring focus more on what you can do with the resources and knowledge that you have by looking at your portfolio, so building up your portfolio will help when it comes to getting hired in graphic design.

guest (not verified) says...

You should take a class to fix your spellng.

Guest (not verified) says...

I lov this, soo much good info!

dugan (not verified) says...

im prety excited about joining this field as i already have moderate computer design and pograming skills

Guest (not verified) says...

Well i need some help getting started contacting a graphic designer

derrick okanta (not verified) says...

i am a new upcoming Graphic Designer,and i really wont to build my skills for my career.i need some guidelines and ideas to guide me on my way..thanks

Guest (not verified) says...

I would want to learn more in order to improve my skills in this field

kumara (not verified) says...

i am a new upcoming shoe designer.i really wont to build my skills for my career.i need some guidelines and ideas to guide me on my way..thanks

Guest (not verified) says...

well from my wide experience after working on designing shoes ,u should just quit and immerse yourself in other curse of life instead making shoes. Of course such as banking,engeneering,marketing

Guest (not verified) says...

You are incredibly limited in your mind set. If that person believes they can do shoe designs, they can. Although, a secondary job might not be a bad idea until you get your footing

rahul (not verified) says...

I am an interior designer.
I am not that much happy with the prosses of interior work, spaicely site supervising.
If i do diploma or course In graphic designing then can it help me to work as movie set designer or any other creative work which I can do from office.

Please help me for.
My contact no is 9820908410

Guest (not verified) says...

i am a graphic artist i want to utilizey ceartivty in desining field.

Brijlal Prajapati (not verified) says...

This is good for me .as knowledge ...

Guest (not verified) says...


Guest (not verified) says...

i used this for a project and it worked

Bilbo Baggins (not verified) says...

Graphic designing seems like a very interesting field of work to go into but im not a very artistic person. Do you have to be good at drawing in order to work as a graphic designer?

Guest (not verified) says...

You just have to be creative and you need to know how to use Adobe programs.

Guest (not verified) says...

thats why you take classes to get better

wansai (not verified) says...

No, you don't need to know how to draw. Many designers can't draw for nuts. Graphic Design is a more technical arts field. All you need is your imagination, an eye for aesthetic, then you learn how to use tools to get it created. In modern times, this is accomplished using Photoshop, illustrator (a vector drawing program), etc... you can learn how to use these tools to create what you imagine. Your execution is highly technical in nature based on artistic principles.

that said, you do need some sense of the artistic and aesthetic if you wish to be any good. If you meet many designers, many (maybe even most), can draw, illustrate and render (to some degree); but it's not a pre-requisite. In my 15 years as a designer, I have only had to do 3 illustrations and those were for freelance projects, not my full time job. Most agencies or design houses have dedicated or assigned illustrators or they contract out for it.

As long as you learn the basic theories, importance of line work, colours, shapes; you should be fine.

Bilbo Baggins (not verified) says...

Is being naturally artistic required in order to be a graphic designer?

Mims (not verified) says...

I am a high school student planning to go into the graphic design field. To prepare for this, I am taking Digital Arts and Design at my high school. If you are asking whether you must have good drawing skills, i would say no. Based on my observations, all that is necessary to design is the ability to come up with ideas and a familiarity with design software.

Ven (not verified) says...

Good, what is adobe photoshop cs6? questions and answers. I would Like to know what is the best Photoshop program to buy? I was told that I would need that program. I've been to a community college briefly, persued an Associate in Graphic Design but wasn't able to finish. Now I'm 46 years old with a Fuji camera, large sketch pad with case, and fish tackle box. Also, a yearning to utilize my gift of sketching, photography, and appreciation of Art. It's been hard to work with my job schedule. What would you recommend?

Hannah Arroyo (not verified) says...

In my opinion, there is no best Photoshop program to buy. Whatever program works best for you to edit your photographs or artwork will be the best in your perspective. Popular Adobe Suite programs are always being developed and with each new program comes it's own new set of tools to help the experience become better when enhancing or touching your photos. Some research and advice from other Photoshop users would help you get a sense of the differences between the new Photoshop program and the previous ones. In careers such as graphic design or advertising, people do recommend that having the technical skills to us Photoshop and other Adobe Suite programs are a great benefit and advantage towards getting hired or working at your current job, especially since digital media is growing along with print. I suggest looking up tutorials on Photoshop if you would like to learn more about how to use it along with looking up free programs that are like Photoshop as an alternative.

Jay Pierce (not verified) says...

You can always go to your local sign shop and ask to intern. Spend one day a week or a few hours spread throughout the week whatever works for you, this can lead to a paid position or a good reference that is within the design industry. I suggest this for anyone that does not have the grades, money or time to go to college.

Part of becoming a great designer is learning the application side of things, such as signage, trade shows, car wraps, window graphics, channel lettering, dimensional lettering, etc... Learning how things are made and installed will help you understand what is realistic in terms of bringing your design to life all while sticking to your clients budget, and believe me they will have a budget. Another "huge" part of being a great designer is understanding color theory, which can be accomplished if you spend a little time at a print shop. You will see in person the enormous difference between RGB vs CMYK and why Pantone colors are NOT the best option when selecting a color for a clients logo or corporate image.

Interning is a great way to get hands on experience in the field you are interested in, as well as get an in with current designers who are getting paid to do what you want to do. A lot of the time they will even set a little time aside to show you different software programs or how the printers, plotters work, their advice and guidance can be invaluable.

Bottom line: whatever you choose to invest your time into, make sure it is something you LOVE, know your worth, see your potential and when things feel overwhelming (because they will) never forget we "ALL" have started somewhere but we stuck with it and made it through just like you will too.

Best of Luck,

Pablographx (not verified) says...

In my opinion, you don't need a degree to get into this field, however some jobs require it. You can learn Graphic Design or Motion Graphics on your own and still be able to get a great job.

Guest (not verified) says...

There is a bit of truth to your assessment, you can learn how to use certain programs/tricks on YouTube, for example. However, the training covers an array of skills that are not always found on the internet. For example, one must be able to be open to critique. Most "self taught" designers resist the feedback and do not grow as designer. Or they learn visual communication from an unreliable source. One must know how to follow the design "guidelines" so you know how to break them correctly. Usually, self taught designers learn things from unreliable sources, therefore their art suffers. Constructive criticism is essential to a designers growth, something you don't always get back from watching a how-to-video. A designer, should have great hand-to-paper skills as a computer only does as much as the user knows. All that being said, a trained designer should also be open to learning on the job, as some things can not be taught in school. My point, be open to learning and growing, weather you are trained or not.

Shyguest (not verified) says...

I would like to be a graphic designer, but the part where I have to talk to people and sell my art to them scares me. I am extremely shy and introverted, I don't know if I would deal well with it.
The other thing is that people apparently don't value this profession, what makes it even more scarier.
And all the 12 year boys that ruins this career?

pranit (not verified) says...

graphic designing course is got a good career scope, today graphic designers are in so many streams like AD industry, Print Industry, web designing industry etc…., as far as my knowledge graphic designers start with a salary package of 15k then based on there experiance the salary goes up to 1lac, To become a good GD it is important to choose a qualified Institution which gives good knowledge abt the industry,

goldenDracogon (not verified) says...

I am a high school student wanting to go into graphic design but I don't think I would be able to support myself after I finish school.If anyone has any tips on a good job let me know.

goldenDracogon (not verified) says...

I'm pretty sure that graphic designers start with 27k.

goldenDracogon (not verified) says...

I am not much of a talker but I really want this career

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