Graphic Designers have been around for decades, creating the ads we see in magazines. The advent of computer software (which requires a graphical user interface) and the Internet (which most companies have begun developing websites for) has created a need for more graphic designers.
Graphic Designers are artistic individuals who develop and/or implement the "look and feel" of a project. The project can be any of a variety of things: advertisements, training materials, marketing materials, software games, K-12 educational software, entertainment software that also educates, a company's internal Internet (called an intranet), etc.
This field is project-oriented and deadline-driven. And while good design skills used to be sufficient in this occupation, good technical skills are now also needed in order to use computers in design work. In fact, many Graphic Designers create some of their work for display on the Internet these days. Still, good hand drawing skills can improve ones chance of getting hired.
While a college degree is not required, training is, and several certificate programs exist to provide it.
This industry is centered in the San Francisco Bay Area. Excellent training programs exist, and during normal economic times jobs are readily available. Like most other occupations, this one has been hit by the recent weakening of the economy, resulting in fewer jobs and sometimes-lower pay. But when the economy turns around businesses will be eager to tell people about themselves, and jobs will return for Graphic Designers.
Future Growth Opportunities
Opportunities for Advancement:
With experience one can become a Senior Graphic Designer or Art Director.
Skills Transferable to:
Animation, Advertising, Technical Writing, Illustration, and Web Design.
There are several closely related occupations that can fall under the heading of graphic design: graphic designer, multimedia artist, graphic artist, production artist, illustrator, and web designer. As one progresses in this field they become familiar with more tools, can do things more quickly, and can also earn higher wages.
It is worth noting that Graphic Designers producing for the Web can earn twice what print-focused Graphic Designers earn. This can require familiarity with additional web tools, such as Dreamweaver, PageMill, GoLive, or FrontPage.
Entry Level: $10 - 16 / hour ($14 / hour average)
The Intern or entry level designer has no previous work experience in graphic design, but they do have demonstrated artistic ability and experience and/or training on a minimum set of relevant software tools (e.g., Adobe PageMaker, Adobe Illustrator, Quark Xpress, Adobe InDesign, and Adobe Photoshop). The major focus of their work is on producing what has been designed by a more senior graphics designer, fine-tuning the designs made by more senior designers, creating easy computer drawings, and pasting stubs.
Experienced, New to Job: $10 - 27 / hour ($22 / hour average)
This Designer will create illustrations and contribute original artwork. Detailed knowledge of several relevant software packages is required, along with a general understanding of the production process and successful completion of several projects.
Experienced in Job: $11 - 40 / hour ($30 / hour average)
Senior Designers work with the larger clients and have added responsibilities such as setting up presentations. They have five or more years experience as a Graphic Designer and are considered an expert with most software packages and computer platforms.