Learn More About Becoming a Graphic Designer

What is a graphic designer?

Graphic designers create visual content for print and digital. Graphic designers can work on advertising, newsletters and publications as well as digital media such film, app or web design, product packaging, interior designs, and architect designs. An art director, client or company might give a graphic designer an idea or message to communicate visually. The designer uses color, text, and images to create the visual element. You might also have the following responsibilities:

  • Layout design: How to choose fonts, colors, and photos
  • Designing logos
  • Software to create digital illustrations.
  • Data and ideas transformed into images
  • Presenting designs to clients and managers and making any necessary changes.

Graphic designer requirements

Graphic designers are creative people who have received some visual design training in college or through courses and certifications. While some specialize in web design and product packaging, others can be proficient in many creative media.


A certificate or two-year associate’s degree can help some graphic designers get a job. Graphic designers usually have a Bachelor of Arts, Fine Arts, Master of Science degree in graphic arts or another related field. There are programs at some colleges that specialize in art and design and offer courses to help students prepare for jobs as graphic designers. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design has accredited many of these programs. Graphic design jobs don’t usually require an advanced degree beyond a bachelor’s.


Graphic design education is largely based on experience. To gain work experience, new graduates may be offered an internship. As design becomes more digital, graphic designers may take software or computer training courses to stay current. Online classes and seminars might be an option to keep current with design trends. The American Institute of Graphic Arts offers professional development through webinars, conferences, and other activities.


To get a job as a graphic designer, you don’t need to have a license. Potential employers might find a candidate who has completed specialized training in software programs such as publishing or design suites more attractive.


Graphic designers need to have many professional skills and creative talents to succeed. These skills could include:

  • Creativity: Graphic designers need to think of creative ways to communicate ideas visually.
  • Graphic designers need to be artistic. They must also be comfortable with different media.
  • Communication: Graphic designers must communicate with clients, art directors and other artists to create an effective design.
  • Computer skills: Today, most designers use graphic design software to create and edit images. They may need to use layout, publishing and photo editing software.
  • Time management: Graphic designers often face tight deadlines and many projects at once. To meet deadlines, graphic designers must prioritize their projects and efficiently use their time.
  • Analytical skills: Graphic artists should analyze complex ideas or data sets and find the best visual representation.

The work environment for graphic designers

Many graphic designers work for themselves or independently. Many graphic designers work in studios or offices. They are part of a team that reports to an art director. Graphic designers work with clients and colleagues from other departments, such as marketing, advertising and public relations.

Graphic designers are often held to tight deadlines, so their schedules may vary. Graphic designers must finish projects on time, regardless of how much it takes. Clients might require independent graphic designers to meet on weekends or evenings.

How to become a graphic artist

Graphic designers’ success is dependent on their years of experience and specific training. These are some of the steps to becoming a graphic designer:

Earn a degree

Graphic design is a very common job that requires a bachelor’s degree. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design might be a good choice when choosing a college. These programs prepare students for a career as a designer. Consider enrolling in classes that aren’t art-related but could benefit your career in marketing and business.

Do an internship

Interning in a design department or company can give you valuable experience while still in college. You may be more likely to get a job as a graphic designer if you have made connections through your internship.

Your portfolio should be built.

Employers will require a portfolio of examples of work to be added to your resume when they hire graphic designers. Even if you’re still in school, you should start creating a portfolio. As you acquire skills and gain experience, make sure to update your portfolio regularly. It would be best to choose work examples that show your creativity and talent. Include a variety of work from website graphics to print ads. A portfolio can contain anywhere from 10 to 15 pieces of the best work for graphic designers.

You might consider a higher degree.

Some graphic designers pursue a Master in Arts or Fine Arts degree to improve their skills and knowledge. These programs can take between two and three years to complete. Graphic design jobs don’t require advanced degrees, but having one could help you get better job opportunities.

Improve your skills

The design industry is constantly changing. To learn more about the latest trends in software and technology, attend webinars and conferences. Professional organizations like the American Institute of Graphic Arts or the Graphic Artists Guild often host events and seminars.

Find your niche

Many graphic designers focus their attention on one aspect of design. This could be branding, digital design or motion graphics. If you are a skilled designer with creative talent and demand it, you may put your job-searching and continuing education efforts towards that skill.

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