Careers in Graphic Design Tips

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What do wages look like in the graphic design field?

Graphic Design: Wages

So exactly how much does your average graphic designer earn these days? If you are going into the field fresh out of school--or simply thinking about changing graphic art design jobs, you are probably a little curious as to what the going rate is out there. As always, there is a bit of a range, but according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, here is the breakdown as of May 2006:

  • The lowest range of graphic designers earned under $24,120
  • The middle range of graphic designers earned between $30,600 and $53,310
  • The highest range of graphic designers earned over $69,730
Now, you may be wondering how this breaks down in various careers within the field. Well, here are some more numbers to help give you an idea of what is out there--these are the median yearly numbers for 2007 in several different areas to help you get a feel:

  • Entry level designers earned $35,000
  • Staff level designers earned $45,000
  • Senior designers earned $62,000
  • Solo/freelance designers earned $60,000
  • Design directors earned $98,600
As you can see there is a fairly wide range of pay in the graphic design field. Much of it is based on seniority, but some of it is also related to the type of position one has in the industry. It is helpful to keep an eye on the numbers so that you are aware of the pay range and possibilities that are available to you.

How can I best understand my client's needs?

What Does Your Client Need?

Whether you're one of the top Chicago designers or a brand new freelancer, there's one rule that applies to all levels of experience: you need to listen to your client. In order to create the visual design your client is looking (and paying you) for, you'll have to get some specifics. Things such as color, illustration, font, and photography all play crucial roles in the creation of a layout for visual appeal. Spend time with your client discussing their tastes, the impact they would like to make, and who the target audience is.

Once you have an understanding of your client's needs, the next step begins: communicating the brand to the customer. Whether this means creating a magazine ad that will appeal to 20-year-olds or working on packaging that stands out in the supermarket, it takes time and skill to get this part right. Matching all of this up together—the things your client wants and the things that will reach the audience—is the foundation for everything a graphic designer does. It all begins with listening to your client.

What is the employment outlook for graphic designers?

Graphic Design: Employment Outlook

If you're looking for career information on graphic design, one of the things you'll want to know is what the employment outlook is for the field. This is influenced by several factors, such as demand for the type of service provided by graphic designers and the availability of people who are qualified to meet those needs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic designers held just over 260,000 jobs in 2006 and about one quarter of them were self-employed. The growth expected in the field is expected to be about average--about ten percent by 2016. Since it is such a desirable field, the competition for jobs is expected to be fairly keen as people continue to be drawn to this type of work.

The lower-level positions may begin to face a downturn, as many companies have begun to outsource some of this work to overseas companies and designers. Those who have been in the field and are in higher-level positions should be fairly insulated from this trend, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor. This does not necessarily mean that a career in this field is a bad idea, but if you are interested in becoming a graphic designer, it can help to be aware of the current employment situation.

Where can I look for work as a graphic designer?

Graphic Design: Where the Jobs Are

Graphic designers work for a range of different companies, but there are certain arenas that tend to employ more professionals from this field. For example, ad agencies use a lot of graphics, so they tend to be good places to look for work. Newspapers and magazines are also smart places to look for design employment. Some other businesses that hire graphic designers include printers, book and directory publishers, and computer design firms.

Of course, these aren't the only types of companies that employ designers. All companies need to present an image to their patrons, so it's worth checking for design jobs in all sorts of industries. If you're looking for freelance or full-time design work, consider using a design agency that can help connect you with potential employers or clients.

What are the basic educational requirements for a career in graphic design?

Graphic Design: Educational Requirements

So what are the basic educational requirements expected of someone entering the field as a graphic designer these days? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, entry-level careers in graphic design typically require a bachelor's degree. Sometimes you may also find a job where a two-year degree is an acceptable credential, depending on the organization and their hiring policies.

Formal schooling is available in a variety of colleges and universities throughout the United States. There are also many private schools that specialize in graphic design coursework. Classes for this particular field include subjects such as principles of design, printing techniques, Web design and desktop publishing, among others. Many college or university programs also include supporting coursework in liberal arts. Professional schools tend to focus in more on technical classes, and the program length is not as long as a bachelor's degree.

With the upswing in technology, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find employment in this particular field without some type of specialized training or schooling. If you are interested in pursuing a career in graphic design, formal education helps assure that you will be competitive when you begin applying for jobs in the field.

What do digital designers do?

Digital Designers

One of the most popular specialties in the graphic design field digital design. These days it doesn't matter if you're going to be a production artist or an art director—some experience in the digital realm is required. Computers serve as the basis for digital manipulation, and this has been true ever since the 1980s, when the Macintosh first made a splash on the design scene. The words "graphic design" and "computers" really go hand-in-hand. Even so, a digital designer delves far deeper into the possibilities of what can be done with computers than most people in the graphic design field.

Digital designers manipulate images such as photographs and drawings to create ad campaigns and other marketing collateral. This work is often highly technical and requires the use of advanced computer programs. Although much of the work in digital design is eventually used for print, some of it is used on the Web as well. Design projects in this arena can be extremely complex, and they require a good amount of skill in visual form-making in addition to the obvious technical abilities needed to make the idea become a reality.

What qualities are needed to become a graphic designer?

Graphic Design: What Skills Are Needed?

Do you have the qualities needed to become a graphic designer? New York graphic designers and designers from sunny California all have one thing in common--they need a particular skill set to perform their work well. Some of this comes from schooling and on the job training, but there are also certain qualities that are a bit more elusive to describe.

For example, graphic designers must be able to "synthesize" the input from many people into an idea or campaign that pleases everyone. They must also be able to take people's thoughts and opinions an turn them into a graphic, logo or other visual representation of the concept.

Graphic designers need to be able to stay cool under pressure, as many times a project will have strict time constraints with short deadlines. They also need to have an eye for color, layout and shapes. If that isn't enough--graphic designers must also understand business and marketing so that they are able to utilize their design skills in a way that benefits their client's organization.

People best-suited to this field are those with strong visual talents and an ability to perform multiple tasks side by side. Interpersonal skills are another important factor, as designers will interact with many different people during the course of a particular project.

What is corporate design?

Corporate Design

If you're looking for graphic design or artist jobs, don't forget that all companies, whether they're in the creative, business, or healthcare industries, employ designers. Depending on their size and other factors, companies may hire freelance designers or have in-house designers to help them create and maintain a solid, polished company image. This is done by making sure that all of the collateral used for communications has the look and feel that the company wants to put forth. The idea is similar to branding, but it isn't just reserved for the public face of the corporation—it also creates an internal identity for those who work on-site.

The size of the company will typically dictate how many people they have working in this capacity. Corporate design involves consistent messaging of the logo, tagline, and other imagery that helps identify the brand to those inside and outside the company. Smaller companies may be able to employ a part-time freelancer for this type of work, but large corporations will often have several employees working on this full-time.

What is graphic designers role on the Web?

Graphic Designers And The Web

The Internet has created a need for a different type of graphic designer. This new platform has opened up a whole new way to communicate; resulting in the need for people who are trained for these different types of graphic design jobs. Many companies now have a presence on the Web and are looking for the best ways to convey their messaging to the consumer or customer. Graphic designers with this type of training will be positioned well for these opportunities.

Interactive media projects are on the rise as organizations take advantage of all of the computer options that are available to them. Some of these include things such as video games, cell phones and Web pages. Graphic designers will play an increasingly important role in these kinds of applications as time goes on.

Web-based marketing, promotional materials and video entertainment are all areas that are going to need more designers, so this type of thing will probably be a good choice for those going into the field to concentrate on when in school. Even those who choose to go a more traditional route will benefit from some Web-based training; it will make them more marketable in their search for employment as an in-house or freelance graphic designer--or to help secure their current position.

What advice can you give someone who is just beginning a job search in the graphic design field?

Graphic Design: Getting Your First Job

If you're fresh out of school and looking for graphic design jobs, it can be a little intimidating at first. After all, the job market these days is tight, and you'll likely be going up against other people who have quite a bit more job experience. Do what you can to prepare yourself for the job search so you can interview with confidence.

One step in the process is preparing your design portfolio. Many schools will provide some help in this regard, be it a teacher who's willing to advise you or a more structured program for portfolio review. You'll want to be sure to get plenty of input on the work you include so that you feel secure that it's your best work. Once you have the portfolio assembled and your resume ready to go, you can begin searching for places to interview.

Having your paperwork in order prior to starting the job hunt will make you feel more confident. If you take a little time to prepare, you can concentrate on the actual interview process instead of trying to do both things at once.

How can I find a job in graphic design?

Finding Jobs In Graphic Design

Where can you look for graphic design jobs? There are many places to find employment in this field, but if you are hoping to connect with a position sooner rather than later, it may pay to get a little bit of help.

  • Consider your current contacts. People you know in the field may know of open slots you can interview for. If not, it can at least be a good idea to let them know you are looking in case they hear of something that they can pass your way.
  • Go to a professional. Talent agencies will work hard to find you a position and can be an invaluable resource. In a slow job market, they can also give you a bit of an edge.
  • Look through the "want ads". Although it may seem old-fashioned, plenty of people still run ads for vacant positions. Check on the Internet as well as in the newspaper.
  • Freelancing may be an option if you are willing to put in the extra time needed to get up and running.
Searching for a position in the field can be challenging; but there are many different ways to go about finding one. Don't limit yourself to just one approach either. The more venues you explore, the more likely you are to connect with something that works for you.

Is it better to be a freelance graphic designer or an employee?

Graphic Design: Freelance vs. Full-Time

Do you want to work in a graphic design agency or would you prefer to freelance? If you aren't sure, ask yourself some questions about your work style. Here are some to consider:

  • Do you prefer to be told what to do most of the time, or do you like to schedule tasks as you have the time and energy? Freelance work allows you more flexibility than working for a company does, but you have to be a self-starter to ensure that you complete projects on time.
  • Do you enjoy working from home or do you prefer interacting with people during the workday? Freelancers spend much of their time in the home office (unless they're contractors, in which case office hours may apply). If you enjoy the company of others in your field, working on-site as an employee may be more appealing.
  • Do you want to have weekends off most of the time? Freelancers may wind up searching for work over the weekend and completing projects during the week. Full-time employees will typically have weekends off. For many freelancers, the flexible schedule makes this worth it.

What is involved in a freelance career as a graphic designer?

Graphic Designers: Going Freelance

Have you ever wondered what it would take to become a freelance graphic designer? If working for yourself seems appealing, you may want to consider going that route rather than working in a corporate environment. Freelancing can be a wonderful job, but there are certain things you will need to be able to do to make this type of career happen. If you are thinking about going freelance, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • How's your portfolio? If you can look at it and say it is very strong, freelancing may be an option. If not, you may want to consider building it a bit before taking the plunge.
  • Do you have the equipment needed to design on your own? Take stock of what you have and see if it is enough to perform your work solo. If not, you may want to wait until you can invest in the proper tools.
  • Are you comfortable working by yourself? Some people prefer working in an environment where there are others around, while some thrive on their own.
  • Do you have the discipline needed to freelance? Getting clients, keeping the books and working on a variety of different projects at once can seem overwhelming to some people. If you are a self-starter that enjoys multi-tasking, freelancing may be for you.Consider these and other questions as you look at a freelance career in graphic design. It can be a rewarding choice if it is a good match for your skills and personality. If not, you may want to think about joining a graphic design agency or signing on at a company that gives you a more structured environment where you'll be more comfortable in the long run.

Could graphic design be the right career for me?

Is Graphic Design For You?

Were you always the kid in school with the best art project? Did you always get picked to create the lemonade stand sign? What about now? Do all your friends turn to you for an opinion on their party invitations or birth announcements? If so, you may have a natural ability for graphic design.

Graphic designers are those who strive to get messages across using visual means. They work on projects ranging from promotional material to full-scale ad campaigns and more. Brochures, packaging and logos are all things that graphic designers are called upon to do, depending on their specific role within a particular company. If this all sounds interesting, you may want to look into a career as a graphic designer.

There are many graphic design programs, ranging from basic, introductory courses to advanced degrees. To start with, you may want to research the various options in your area and see which seem appealing. If possible, it may also be helpful to sit down and talk to an actual graphic designer. Does someone in your family know a person that is already in the field? If so, they may be willing to sit down with you and talk about their career over a cup of coffee. Talking to an industry professional can be a great, low-pressure way to learn more about what it is like to work in the field.

What are some thoughts on specializing in a career as a graphic designer?

Graphic Design: Choosing A Specialty

When setting up your graphic designer career for the long term, it can help to think about specializing in a particular area. In order to do this, you first need to be able to define what that area is and then make sure you get some training in it so that you are marketable. This may not be necessary when you are first starting out, but as you become more established, it can help insure your longevity in the field.

These days, the demand for graphic designers who are "Web savvy" is high. Website design is one possibility as there is plenty of coursework you can take to get qualified for this area if you aren't already. There are also designers who consult on page layout and logo placement for Websites and other related collateral on-line.

Other areas of specialty can include things such as product or packaging design, logo development, advertising and positions within the newspaper industry. As you go along in your career, you may begin to find one more appealing than the others. Try to keep an eye out for what you would enjoy most, and then look into it in more detail so you can find out about the particular skill set that is needed to work in that arena. Once you have some experience, it can be fairly easy to cross-train into another area in the field if you find something you think you would be happy doing.

What are some of the different types of careers in graphic design?

Jobs In Graphic Design

If you are curious about the different types of graphic design careers out there, you aren't alone. There are many different ways that a graphic designer can find employment, simply because there are so many ways that their skills can be utilized. Here are some examples of jobs that graphic designers typically hold, along with their median annual earnings in 2006 as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Printing and related activities: $33,930
  • Advertising and related services: $41,600
  • Specialized design services: $43,410
  • Newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers: $34,290
  • Newspaper publishers: $31,540
These industries are the ones that most often employ graphic designers, but there are others as well. There are many designers that do freelance work in addition to their full-time career, and some that make a living through their freelance work alone. If you look through the classifieds in any newspaper, you are likely to see a wide variety of ads for graphic designers.

The range of positions keeps this industry interesting, but the variety can also mean specific training and specialization. Experience on the Web, in photography or in certain types of computer applications can be helpful, as can marketing or advertising experience.

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