Graphic Designer Careers

Graphics design is a wide industry with an even wider pool of talent for clients to choose from. It opens up a lot of competition, and most would shy away from this career thinking it’s highly competitive.

The reality of the graphic design industry is that the statistics don’t portray the professionalism in its true light. If you look on any number of freelance jobs sites, you’ll find the jobs are high in demand, but take some time to look through some contractor portfolios, and certifications, and you’ll no doubt see the industry reality.

Become a Graphic Designer

Qualified graphics designers are hard to come by, and it’s through the misconception that you can become a graphic designer through self-education.

That’s only part of continual training that goes into the real career of a graphic designer.

Someone with the real artistic touch to make it in the field will find themselves in high demand, and that’s exactly where you want to be. Someone with not just the skills to design creative works of arts, but also someone who can devote themselves to the needs of clients, and generate brand identities with nothing more than a creative imagination and the skills you learn to become a certified graphics designer.

Certifications in graphic design include:

  • BTEC – Business and Technician Education Council, now part of the Edexcel awarding body
  • Adobe – Software creator of Dreamweaver and Photoshop
  • CIW – Certified Internet Web Professional
  • CIM – Chartered Institute of Marketing

That last certification body of the Chartered Institute of Marketing is where many designers fall short.

The reason this is beneficial is because of the underlying aspects of why businesses hire graphic designers.

Signature logos, brochures, product catalogues etc. are all marketing materials that require a brand identity to be incorporated into the design. Some courses are short, whereas others may take years to achieve an award.

In all likelihood, the more professional certifications you have, the more employable you’ll find yourself, but you will have to commit to continued training on the latest software and desktop publishing applications to ensure your knowledge is consistently up to date on the latest software technology being implemented to create enhanced graphics, such as 2D and 3D visuals.

Graphic Designer Training

What options are available to aspiring graphic designers? Training in graphic design can be done in three forms:

  1. Self-study
  2. Local colleges
  3. University

The best designers will have training in all three disciplines, usually with GCSEs in art and/or technology.

Short courses on art subjects can be found in the majority of local colleges, and it’s also possible to study towards a Degree in Graphics Design, which will undoubtedly improve employment prospects, however being educated to degree level isn’t a pre-requisite to enter the profession.

Graphic Designer Training

The more projects you have under your belt, the larger a portfolio you can build. In graphic design, the more diverse your portfolio is, the more variety you have, and on the job work experience you have – the more in demand you become. To maintain a high level of expertise and professionalism, it’s advantageous to highlight what design software you’re using in your portfolio, certified to professional standards, and proficient with as it shows potential clients, and employers that you have a “working knowledge” of the latest software used in the industry.

The most popular design applications include:

  • Photoshop
  • Quark Express
  • Dreamweaver
  • Freehand
  • Illustrator
  • 3D Studio
  • Acrobat
  • Flash
  • Director

Naturally, the more diverse your working knowledge is the better, but it’s far better to be as proficient as possible in one application, than it is to use the majority.

Also worth noting is that when you’re working with web design agencies, you’ll be interacting as a team member, consisting of a number of IT professionals, so a knowledge of computer programming would be advantageous to your career.

How long does it take to become a qualified graphics designer?

The time it takes to become a qualified graphic designer will vary according to which route you take in to the industry, whether you study full or part time and also to what level you wish to train. Graphic design courses range from 2 – 6 years. In addition you will constantly be learning new techniques and evolving the way you work even after you have become qualified.

What grades do I need to undertake graphic designer training?

The grades that you need to undertake graphic designer training will vary according to the course that you are planning on taking. Most college courses will require at least a minimum of 3 – 5 GCSE grades C or above.

What if I don’t want to take formal training?

If you don’t like the sound of formal training or the potential cost is putting you off there is another route you can choose. Training to become a graphic designer, like several other jobs in the IT industry can be in part self-taught.

There is a myriad of training resources and tutorials available online.

A quick search of Google will reveal thousands of resources that you can work through at your own pace. If you already have a creative flair and are simply looking to better understand the design tools and software available to you this could be a good route for you to take.

Will I need any other skills?

It may help you to land your dream job if you also know a bit of web design as well as graphic design. Understanding basic html, css and even php can open up more opportunities from you as a broader range of skills will be more appealing to potential employers.

Again some of these skills will be picked up as you train to become a graphic designer, others you can teach yourself or alternatively you can attend a web design course.

Click here to find out more information about becoming a web designer.

As you can see there in no one particular route to become a graphic designer. The path you take will be dictated by your personal preferences and circumstances.


Graphic Designer Jobs

There are approximately 185,000 people working in the design sector as a whole and nearly 40,000 businesses working in Graphic Design. There are two main types of employer Agencies and then larger organisations that have in house design teams such as a local authority or retailer for example.

Vacancies can be found in the trade press or national press and sometimes it is worth joining a specialist recruitment agency. Graphic Designers work within the Graphic Design and Graphic Arts Industries for example advertising agencies and design agencies.

Graphic Designers will produce a design that displays the client’s message through images – posters, magazines, websites, packaging and so on. These designs will give a particular organisation the visual impact they require and the work is usually carried out on computer using various software packages.

Graphic Design Jobs

What you need to know about graphic design jobs working conditions…..

As a Graphic Designer you can expect to work a 37 hour week, usually Monday to Friday with the odd occasion of working longer hours when a project deadline needs to be met. It is also worth mentioning that Part time work with some agencies will be available. Most Graphic Designers will find themselves working in a large open plan studio environment, or for those designers who are self employed you can work from home or in a shared space. Once a qualified Graphic Designer you need to decide whether you want to work agency-side or client side.

Graphic Designer Jobs – Agency Side

Agency Side – this means that you will be working for an agency and working on their clients designs.

You would have briefs from an Account Manager as they are the only ones who have direct contact with the client. This is sometimes a good place to start when you first qualify as you will gain lots of experience as you will be working on several brand names each with different requirements.

Graphic Designer Jobs – Client Side

Client Side – you would deal directly with the clients. This means that you are responsible for building and maintaining good relationships with clients, as well as carrying out office tasks such as invoicing.

This is for the more experienced designer; as you would need to meet with clients and present a pitch to the potential client containing your ideas. When you first begin your career as a Graphic Designer you will be known as a Junior Designer, but with the right experience you can progress from a junior to a more senior position such as Studio Manager or Creative Director. You may also decide that you want to specialise in a particular element of design such as packaging or magazine design.

There are no limits to where this position may take you!