This article has been contributed by Tracy Sparks.
Sometimes finding the right road to travel down can feel like standing in front of a spaghetti junction. With so many paths twisting and turning up ahead, which one do you choose? Where do they all lead?
When it comes to choosing a career, it’s important to find one in which you can thrive. You don’t need something that simply pays the bills, but something that challenges you to solve problems in new ways, where no two days are ever the same.
Graphic design is an incredible career choice for those with a creative vision for their future. By entering a career which is increasingly digital, you can work from anywhere in the world. With in-demand graphic design skills, you can choose to find steady work in a multinational organization, work with local businesses on ad campaigns, or you could freelance, picking your own clients and working to your own schedule.
Before we go into detail about why graphic design is an incredible choice of career, we’ll take a closer look at what it entails.
What Is Graphic Design?
According to the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the role of design is to “improve the visual appearance and function of messages and information”.
Specifically, designers “use typography, photographs, illustrations, and graphic elements to construct messages that attract attention, cause us to think about their meaning, and stay in our memories over time.”
The Institute also highlights the importance of designers in the world of branding, describing their ability to “distinguish businesses from their competitors in the marketplace through innovative approaches to branding, the comprehensive design of messages, products, and services that express the character of a company and define its relationships with consumers”.
Today, designers are increasingly working in the digital sphere. This means that graphic design is appearing across the internet and in apps. Design is becoming increasingly dynamic thanks to the adoption of technology in graphic design.
The location for a graphic designer’s work can vary radically, providing daily challenges that mean a designer’s job is always creative and interesting. They may work on adverts in physical media such as billboards, on the side of buses or in magazines and newspapers. Designers also design websites, and entire brand identities for companies that will be used across all their visual communications.
The Designer Skill Set
Graphic designers require a strong eye for the visual. Good graphic design is eye-catching and visually appealing, and simultaneously communicates a message. The subtle incorporation of meaning in design can be achieved through color, graphics and fonts, and designers become fluent in this second language.
Designers also need to be flexible. Often, you’ll be working with clients to fulfill their own vision of a brand or ad campaign. Graphic designers offer guidance to clients about what’s possible, but must work within the constraints they’re given by their client.
Plus, designers need to have technical expertise in the field. They generally use graphic design programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Such applications allow the designer to work faster and more effectively, especially since clients expect the best from designers they hire.
Finally, graphic design is a role in a creative industry, so your creativity is your greatest asset as a designer. Coming up with new, alluring designs, and making and breaking the rules of design to solve the challenges of communicating messages in new ways are common parts of the day-to-day of the graphic designer.
9 Reasons to Choose A Career in Graphic Design
There are so many reasons why graphic design is a fantastic career choice. Here are our top nine.
1. You Get Paid for Being Creative
At the heart of a graphic designer’s work is their creative spirit and when you become a graphic designer, you get to apply this every day.
A graphic designer has to challenge themselves with deeper creative questions about how to express a message in a design. You’ll be involved in using color, shapes and symbols to express ideas that are at the heart of whatever campaign you’re working on.
As for pay, that all depends on how much experience you have. 99Designs interviewed two different sources – Salary.com and PayScale.com – to get a good estimate on how much money graphic designers make.
- For 2 to 5 years’ experience in the field, expect to earn between $45,000 to $57,000 per year (about $22-27 per hour).
- For 5 to 10 years’ experience, the annual salary is about $51,000 to $71,000 (about $25-34 per hour).
2. You Have the Chance to Make A Difference
When you’re a graphic designer, you can be involved in rewarding work that actually makes a difference in the world. You might work on governmental advertising campaigns that make a huge difference in society, encouraging people to give blood or take up the flu vaccine.
Or maybe you’ll help local businesses spread the word about their wares, helping independent traders find new markets. In any case, graphic design is an outward looking profession and you’ll get to see tangible results in the real world.
3. Work from Anywhere in The World
The days of graphic designers only having the option to work with physical mediums are limited. Nowadays a fine understanding of Photoshop software, a laptop and a sketchpad are all the tools that a graphic designer needs to ply their trade. You won’t be tied to a desk or office, giving you incredible freedom to explore the world.
In an increasingly digital age, remote working is becoming more popular and more widely accepted by employers. This gives you the opportunity to travel while you work, or set up shop wherever you please.
The age of the digital nomad designer has arrived – so whether working from a beach in southern Thailand or a bustling coffee shop in downtown New York City sounds like your ideal gig, graphic design is a career that gives you options.
4. You Get to Be Your Own Boss
In a visual and digital world there’s always going to be a demand for graphic designers. By manipulating the very medium in which companies communicate – graphics – you’re a valuable asset to any organization. Whilst there are always steady jobs for the designers looking to settle down, more graphic designers are choosing to freelance these days, giving you ultimate control over your working life.
In some cases, designers are even setting up their own design agencies. By building your client base you can turn your design work into your own business, building your own range of products from ad campaigns to newly designed fonts. As a graphic designer, the world’s your oyster.
5. Varied Opportunities
The world runs on a visual basis and almost every sector and industry needs graphic designers to tell their story. You could work for multinational brands like Apple, Google or Gucci. Charities rely on graphic designers to appeal to their audience, generating the necessary avenues of funding for their outreach projects. You can work for the government on messaging campaigns, encouraging folks to get out and vote or to understand government administrative systems such as tax and visas. Many of the world’s largest organizations have their own in-house team of designers and they’re always recruiting new, creative talent.
With a graphic design background, you speak a global language and there are a wide range of roles that you can fill. By upskilling in marketing, you can lead ad campaigns for the biggest agencies or by learning coding you could be building apps. Design is at the heart of so many jobs that graphic designers are never lacking in new opportunities.
6. Get Onboard with Digital
The world is becoming increasingly digital and, as a global pandemic rocked the world in 2020, we’re spending more time than ever in virtual environments. Graphic designers are well placed to leverage this digital turn as they’re versed in the use of software to create incredible designs.
Digital design roles are on the rise and the demand for these positions is translating into increasingly lucrative salaries. Take advantage of a digital surge to maximize your income and your freedom to work from anywhere in the world.
7. Shape People’s Feelings and Actions
Although ad campaigns or app designs are often ephemeral and a campaign may run for a few months or return once a year at Christmas, what lasts is the impression that your work leaves on its audience. Graphic design is art and the best examples leave a lasting mark on those who witness it.
Pursuing a career in graphic design gives you the tools to change hearts and minds, influencing people to give to charity or change their behavior in important, socially conscious ways. As a graphic designer your legacy isn’t just beautiful design, it’s marked changes in the way people live their lives.
8. Never Get Bored
When you’re a graphic designer, no two days of work are ever the same. Working with visual mediums means that graphic designers bring together a wide range of elements, from typography and abstract graphics to coloring and logos. On any individual campaign you have so many creative directions to explore.
What’s more, creativity is great for your overall health. Creativity has been linked to reduced stress and anxiety and can even boost your immune system. Turning your passion into a profession through graphic design can have wide ranging benefits on your physical and emotional well-being.
Further, graphic designers who choose to freelance get to pick and choose their work to stay creatively engaged. You could spend one day designing social media posts for an independent business and the next work with a multinational organization developing long-term branding strategy. By working with a variety of clients in a creative way, you can guarantee that work never becomes a grind.
9. Have Fun While You Work!
By choosing a creative industry, you’ll surround yourself with vibrant individuals. Graphic design departments are filled with people who enjoy exploring the world around them, coming up with creative solutions to complex problems. Design studios are vibrant and exciting places to work thanks to the people that fill them.
If putting on a suit and tie everyday sounds like a bleak future, then design studios might be a place where you can express yourself. Generally speaking, these are fantastic and fulfilling environments in which to pursue your career – relaxed dress codes, creatively decorated offices and flexible patterns of work are the norm in design departments. Immerse yourself in a world of creativity and you’ll reap the benefits, having fun at work.
How To Become A Graphic Designer
There are many avenues to becoming a graphic designer. One option is to study a BA in graphic design or communication design at college or art school, which will demonstrate to employers that you have the skill set required. Through your college career you’ll learn everything necessary to be a great designer, from typography to coloring.
However, a degree isn’t the only way to become a designer. You don’t have to spend tons of time and money on college courses. Luckily, there are many free online design courses that can help you get started on a career in graphic designer. Here is a shortlist of design course providers:
Or, you can find a coach online that can mentor you on how to get started in graphic design. Plus, your coach can introduce you to a wider community of those looking to learn graphic design, as well as others who already know the ropes and can show you around.
If you have design skills and familiarity with a program like Photoshop, you can begin reaching out to organizations to see if you can start working on their campaigns.
No matter how you start, building a portfolio will demonstrate your abilities to potential clients. Many freelance designers nowadays use a strong presence on social media platforms to generate interest in their work.
Ultimately, as you can see, there are many opportunities out there for getting started in design.
Many consider it to be a myth, but it’s true: You really can love your job. Graphic designers get to explore visual, digital and virtual worlds, interacting with their audience on a fundamental level to communicate important messages. As the world becomes increasingly virtual, graphic designers are perfectly situated to leverage this shift and can work from anywhere in the world. Freelance designers are empowered to take control of their own clients and work pattern and can work in almost any industry around the world.
Graphic design is a career path that’s sparkling with opportunities. Design a life that works for you.
About the author: Tracy Sparks is a writer, proofreader and designer at Business Assignments, striving to do every task she can. She took early retirement from the police force to pursue her creative passion, retraining as a graphic designer in 2017. She’s never looked back.