All About A Graphic Designer Career
You consider becoming a graphic designer but are not entirely sure whether this is the right career for you or not?
Stick with me since I will show you everything you need to know about a graphic designer career in the following chapters.
Not only will you learn how much you can make as a graphic designer, but we will also talk about job prospects, future outlook, working hours, work-life balance, job satisfaction, educational requirements and much more.
After reading this article and the complementary FAQ section, you will have a much better idea of whether you still want to become a graphic designer or rather want to go for a different job instead.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
What does a Graphic Designer do?
Graphic designers create images, videos and other visual animations using advanced computer software.
They often work on advertisement campaigns, brochures or flyers to raise awareness of projects of their clients.
Responsibilities & Duties of a Graphic Designer
- Preparation of advertisement campaigns
- Creation of company logos
- Working on the visual side of websites
- Designing flyers
- Designing brochures
- Making sure that campaigns are targeted towards certain audiences
- Using graphic design software to animate pictures or videos
- Creating layouts for product placements
- Developing concepts for the visualization of products and services
- Suggestion of design improvements
What a Typical Day of a Graphic Designer looks like?
Graphic designers usually start their workday between 8 and 10 a.m.
After getting to work, the first thing they do is checking their mails and answering the most important and urgent ones.
After communicating with their clients and assuring proper information flows, graphic designers get to their actual work, which may consist of the visual improvement of websites, the creation of logos, the preparation of advertising campaigns and many other things that help building a brand in the digital world.
You will also have to call your clients on a regular basis to talk to them about the current state of projects and how to proceed so that your clients are up-to-date and know when to expect the final result.
After working in a classical office job for many hours, you will usually finish your workday between 5 and 7 p.m.
Graphic Designer Salary 2021
Graphic Designer salary brackets 2021
|Salary Brackets||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|Top 10 %||> $59,000||> $29.42|
|Top 25 %||$51,000 – $55,000||$25.45 – $27.39|
|Bottom 25 %||$29,000 – $36,000||$14.37 – $17.93|
|Bottom 10 %||$22,000 – $25,000||$10.93 – $12.47|
|Range||$22,000 – $64,000||$10.93 – $31.91|
Graphic Designer salary 2021 by expert level
|Level of Experience||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|Entry level||$22,000 – $28,000||$10.93 – $13.92|
|Junior||$26,000 – $35,000||$12.89 – $17.43|
|Professional||$33,000 – $45,000||$16.48 – $22.39|
|Senior Professional||$44,000 – $56,000||$21.97 – $27.88|
|Expert||$53,000 – $58,000||$26.42 – $28.93|
|Top Expert||$57,000 – $64,000||$28.39 – $31.91|
Graphic Designer salary by state 2021 (average)
|State||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|District of Columbia||$44,800||$22.38|
Job Security of Graphic Designers
Graphic designers enjoy pretty decent job security.
Since educational barriers to entry are relatively high and you need a degree for working in this field, there is a lack of really good graphic designers and if you are willing to work hard and become really good at graphic design, chances are that you will not have to worry about getting unemployed since even if you get fired, you will likely find a new job soon.
Future Job Prospects of Graphic Designers
Due to our technologized world, graphic designers will also be in great demand in the future since almost all advertisement campaigns will be done with a computer to reach an online audience.
Consequently, chances are that you will not have to worry about getting unemployed for many years or even decades as a graphic designer.
Working Hours of Graphic Designers
Most graphic designers start working between 8 and 10 a.m. and finish their workday between 5 and 7 p.m.
Hence, you will work in a classical office job with a 9 to 5 mentality and will have lots of leisure since you will come home from work relatively early compared to other people like investment bankers who often have to work long hours every day.
Job Satisfaction of Graphic Designers
Most graphic designers are pretty happy with what they are doing since they can make decent money while they still don’t have to work long hours and also don’t have much stress at work.
Promotion Opportunities of Graphic Designers
The better you get at graphic design, the more responsibility you will get and if you are really good and ambitious, you may be able to lead your own team of graphic designers relatively early in your career.
Career Levels of Graphic Designers
- Graphic designer intern
- Junior graphic designer
- Senior graphic designer
- Graphic designer with personnel and/or budget responsibilities
- Manager of a graphic design company
- Owner of a graphic design company
Fields and Types of Graphic Designers
- Graphic designer focused on animations
- Graphic designer specialized in the creation of logos
- Graphic designer with expertise in improving the visual appearance of websites
- Graphic designer specialized in videos
- Graphic designers with expertise in digital marketing campaigns
- Graphic designers focused on product design
- Graphic designers specialized in print design
- Graphic designers focused on branding
- Graphic designers specialized in visual identity
Educational Requirements for Graphic Designers
If you want to work as a graphic designer, you have to get at least a bachelor’s degree in graphic design.
Even better would be a master’s degree, especially if your goal is to work for one of the renowned companies out there.
How to become a Graphic Designer
- Inform yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of being a graphic designer
- Apply for a college degree in graphic design
- Choose your favorite degree and start college education
- Apply for an internship in the graphic design department of local companies
- Make a good impression during your internship and work hard
- Stay in touch with your colleagues
- Finish your college degree with decent grades
- Apply for graphic design jobs
- Master the job interview
- Choose the best offer and sign your labor contract
Character Traits you need as a Graphic Designer
- You should be creative
- Attention to detail can help making your campaigns better
- Ambition to always improve your skills
- Patience for difficult clients
- Empathy for people who just don’t have the same taste as you
- You should be brave enough to try new things
- Willingness to work with latest technologies
- You should be curious about the digital world in general
- Persistence in case things don’t work out as planned
Hard Skills for Graphic Designers
- Expertise in using graphic design software
- Knowledge of how to design nice logos
- Knowledge of how to create digital marketing campaigns
- Expertise in creating animations and visualizations
- You should understand our digital landscape
- You should be good at using a computer
- You should understand how people use the internet
- Brand-building skills help as well
- Legal knowledge regarding copyright issues
- Understanding of latest trends and how they change your work environment
- Programming skills can help as well
Soft Skills for Graphic Designers
- Empathy for clients how don’t like your work
- Good time management skills help you get things done
- Patience is key to really improve digital advertisement campaigns
- Good people skills help you lead a team
- Conflict resolution skills help you stay cool during difficult times
- Organizational skills help you maintain an efficient workflow
- You should strive for innovation
- Creativity is crucial to succeeding in graphic design
- You should be a good communicator
Exit Options for Graphic Designers
Since graphic designers learn many valuable skills, they can work in many different fields.
For instance, if you don’t want to work as a graphic designer anymore, you could also work as a digital marketer, blogger, YouTuber, virtual assistant, editor and much more.
Graphic Designer – Similar Careers
- Digital marketer
- Virtual assistant
- Advertising agent
Graphic Designer Career FAQs
Is working as a graphic designer physically demanding?
Working as a graphic designer is not that physically demanding.
Most of the time, you will just work with a computer and will not have to work in a hard physical manner compared to construction workers, roofers or welders who have to stress their bodies on a regular basis.
Is working as a graphic designer mentally demanding?
Being a graphic designer can be greatly mentally demanding since you will need lots of creativity at work and will also have to use your brain quite a lot to get the best possible results for your clients.
You will also have to work with advanced design software and this may really use up your mental capacities in the long run.
Is it dangerous to work as a graphic designer?
Working as a graphic designer is not dangerous at all since you will work in a protected office environment while many other people who have to work outdoors don’t have this luxury and compared to police officers, firefighters or people who work with heavy machines, you will have a pretty low risk of suffering from serious accidents at work as a graphic designer.
How long do graphic designers stay in their jobs?
Graphic designers often stay in their jobs for many years since most of them really love what they are doing and really enjoy getting to work.
Hence, fluctuation in this field is rather low and once you become a real expert in this industry, it will often just not make sense to do something different.
Is it easy for graphic designers to find a new job?
Since graphic designers are in high demand right now, it will be pretty easy for you to find a new job in this field, at least if you are really good at what you are doing and are also willing to work hard to hone your skills.
Is it hard to switch from being a graphic designer to another field of work?
While it is easy for graphic designers to find a new job in their field, it can be hard if you want to switch to a completely different field.
For instance, if you wanted to switch from being a graphic designer to a welding career, you would have to get lots of additional education before you are able to work in this completely different field.
Do graphic designers have a high social status?
Graphic designers enjoy a decent social status.
Even though they are not as popular as doctors or lawyers, graphic designers still have a good social standing and many of your friends may be impressed by your career.
Can you help out your family and friends as a graphic designer?
Since you will focus on graphic design campaigns for big companies, it will be hard for you to help out your loved ones as a graphic designer.
While craftsmen can help with repairs or installations of various sorts, you will not be able to provide the same value to your family and your friends and may therefore have a rather low standing.
Can graphic designers work remotely?
Graphic designers are often able to work remotely since they do almost all of their work with a computer and if you have a good internet connection, you can just often work from home and will not have to commute to work and back every day.
In turn, you can save lots of time and money on fuel and will also be more flexible regarding how to structure your day.
Is it easy to find a partner as a graphic designer?
Since graphic designers have a relatively safe job and also don’t have to work long hours while they can still make decent money from what they are doing, graphic designers have a rather easy time in the dating market when it comes to finding someone for a long-term relationship.
Do graphic designers have to work on weekends?
Graphic designers don’t have to work on weekends.
Instead, you will have a rather standard workweek from Monday to Friday and you will also work in a classical office environment.
Consequently, you will have more than enough time to spend with your loved ones or on nice weekend trips.
Do graphic designers have to work on holidays?
Graphic designers also don’t have to work on holidays.
Instead, they can spend those days with their family or friends and also make nice trips while many other people who work as train drivers or waiters often have to work those days.
Do graphic designers have to work at nighttime?
Graphic designers don’t have to work at nighttime. Instead, you will have a pretty standard 9 to 5 job and will often come home from work pretty early in the late afternoon or the early evening.
Consequently, you will have more than enough time to meet up with your favorite people after work.
Do you have to travel as a graphic designer?
There is no need to travel as a graphic designer.
While many other people will have to travel for business trips, you will be able to stay at home with your family most of the time during your first years.
However, once you get more experienced and have more responsibility, the need for business trips may become more likely.
Are graphic designer pensions good?
While graphic designers can make decent money, they still don’t make a really good living from what they are doing.
Thus, also their pensions are rather low and they will also not be able to save and invest enough money during their active careers for retirement most of the time.
In turn, many graphic designers may suffer from serious financial problems once they get older and quit their active careers.
Are graphic designer salaries going up?
Graphic designer careers have been going up over the past years.
However, graphic designers still don’t make as much as many other people who work in the financial industry and you should not expect to make a fortune in this field.
Can you have a positive impact on society as a graphic designer?
Your positive impact on society will be rather limited as a graphic designer since you will mainly focus on making your clients happy without caring that much whether the general public will benefit from your work or not.
How long does it take to become a graphic designer?
Since you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, you will need to spend at least 4 years to become a graphic designer.
Hence, make sure that you are willing to invest lots of time and money in your education so that you don’t quit your studies after a few semesters.
Is it difficult to become a graphic designer?
It is not difficult to become a graphic designer.
Even though you need to get a degree, many people are able to do so and if you are really passionate about graphic design and also willing to study hard, chances are that you will be able to finish your degree with decent grades and get a good job afterward.
Do you need to be smart to work as a graphic designer?
You don’t need to have an outstanding IQ for working as a graphic designer.
What’s much more important is that you are a creative person and that you are able to always reinvent yourself.
Only then will you be able to stay competitive in the long run and get an edge over your competition since things and technologies change that rapidly.
Do graphic designers have a good work-life balance?
Graphic designers enjoy a pretty decent work-life balance. In fact, they work in a classical 9 to 5 environment and also don’t have to work on weekends and holidays.
Therefore, they will have more than enough time to meet up with their favorite people after work or to make nice weekend trips with their loved ones.
Do graphic designers have to work many extra hours?
Graphic designers don’t have to work many extra hours.
Instead, they often just work a standard workweek and if they don’t get things done one day, they just continue working on their projects the next workday and don’t work much overtime as other people who work in consulting often have to do.
How to maximize your chances of becoming a graphic designer?
The more experience you get in graphic design, the more value you can provide to employers.
Hence, the best thing to do is to work as an intern in the graphic design department of local companies to learn some skills and also to make contacts that can help you since you will already have one foot in the door and therefore an edge over the competition.
Can graphic designers work part-time?
While graphic designers might be able to work part-time in theory, most graphic designers still work full-time since their hourly wage will not be that great and a part-time job would just not be enough to pay their bills.
Do graphic designers work indoors or outdoors?
Graphic designers work indoors in a classical office environment.
Hence, while many other people have to work outdoors during times of rain or extreme heat, you will have a quite relaxed time in this regard and can use air-con and heating to make your time at work as convenient and comfortable as possible.
What does the workplace of a graphic designer look like?
As a graphic designer, you will work in a classical office job.
Thus, you will work with a computer for many hours per day and will use our modern technologies to improve your level of efficiency to get things done in time.
Do you have to look good for working as a graphic designer?
You don’t have to look good for working as a graphic designer.
What’s much more important is that you provide value to the clients you work for.
However, you should still look groomed so that you can represent the company you work for in the best possible manner and clients will not be disgusted by your appearance.
Is a graphic designer career beneficial for your private life?
Since you will work in a rather relaxed environment and will also come home from work relatively early, working as a graphic designer can also be beneficial for your private life since you will have enough time for your family and will also be able to work from home at least some days of the week to manage your private and professional life at the same time.
Do you need a college degree for becoming a graphic designer?
You need at least a bachelor’s degree in graphic design before you are able to work as a graphic designer.
Even better would be a master’s degree.
Hence, you will have to spend lots of time and money on education and you should make sure that you are willing to work in this field for many years to make it worth the initial investment.
Do you need to be certified to work as a graphic designer?
You don’t need to be certified for working as a graphic designer.
Apart from your college degree, you don’t need any formal education and will rather learn many things on the job.
How much does it cost to become a graphic designer?
Since you need a college degree for becoming a graphic designer, you will also have to spend lots of money on tuition and other expenses related to college.
Consequently, you may even have to take on student loans to finance your degree.
Is being a graphic designer a good career?
Since you will have lots of leisure and also a pretty standard workweek while you are also able to work from home on a regular basis, many people would consider working as a graphic designer a good career.
However, you will still not be able to make awesome money from what you are doing and if money and luxury are really important to you, you might rather want to go for a career in the financial industry instead.
Is it easy to start your own business as a graphic designer?
It is relatively easy to start your own business as a graphic designer since you will not have to invest lots of money in machinery as in many other fields but can start out without high initial costs.
You can also start as one-man or one-woman shop and scale until you get enough jobs to employ someone to help you with your mission of building a successful business.
Can graphic designers teach themselves?
As a graphic designer, you can teach yourself many things and will also learn many things on the job.
However, you still need a college degree before you are able to work in this field and teaching yourself will not be enough to get a job at a renowned company if you don’t meet formal educational requirements.
Do graphic designers make good money?
While graphic designers can make decent money, they still earn far less compared to doctors, lawyers or people who work in the financial industry and if money is really important to you, you should not become a graphic designer but rather go for a different career instead.
Is it ever too late to become a graphic designer?
It is never too late to become a graphic designer.
However, since you will have to spend many years on education, you should start your graphic designer career as early as possible to make it worth the investment.
Moreover, the younger you are, the more attractive you will be to employers since your risk of suffering from serious health issues will be lower compared to older people.
Do graphic designers have to quit their careers early?
Most graphic designers don’t have to quit their careers early since they work in a classical office environment and don’t have to do heavy physical work while many other people like construction workers who have to lift heavy things on a daily basis will often have to quit their careers early due to physical health problems.
What is the most challenging thing about working as a graphic designer?
The most challenging part about being a graphic designer is that you always have to reinvent yourself and that you have to stay up-to-date with latest technological developments so that you stay competitive in the long run and don’t become obsolete in the near future.
Can you provide for your family by working as a graphic designer?
Since you can make decent money, you will also be able to provide for your family as a graphic designer most of the time.
However, if you live in a pretty expensive region, things might be different and your salary may not be enough to pay all the bills. In such a case, also your spouse may have to work to make additional money.
Will graphic designers suffer from old-age poverty?
Some graphic designers suffer from old-age poverty since their pensions are rather low and if you don’t save and invest enough money during your active career, chances are that you will no longer be able to pay your bills once you get older.
Can graphic designers retire early?
Most graphic designers are not able to retire early since they don’t make enough money during their active careers and will rather have to work until they reach retirement age.
Do graphic designers get a fixed or variable salary?
While you work in a junior position, you will mainly get a fixed salary as a graphic designer.
However, once you climb the corporate ladder and get more responsibility, the variable fraction of your salary will increase significantly.
Can you get rich as a graphic designer?
While you can make decent money as a graphic designer, you will most likely not become wealthy or even rich.
If you really want to get rich as a graphic designer, you would have to start your own business instead of working as a regular employee.
Do graphic designers need a second job?
Some graphic designers even need a second job to pay their bills.
This is especially true if you live in a region where living costs and rents are high and the salary of a graphic designer will not be enough to even only cover basic expenses.
Do you get continuous training as a graphic designer?
Once you finish your college degree and start working as a graphic designer, you will no longer get extensive training.
In fact, you will learn most things on the job and it will be on you to really get better at what you are doing and to keep up with latest technologies.
Do you get sick pay as a graphic designer?
If you work as a graphic designer, you often get sick pay, especially if you work for a big renowned company.
However, if you want to be 100% sure in this regard, you should just ask your colleagues or call companies in this field to get some information in this regard.
Do graphic designers have a high level of responsibility?
Graphic designers don’t have a high level of responsibility.
While mistakes on their sides could lead to serious financial damage for the company they work for, the mistakes of graphic designers will still not take away the lives of other people as is often the case for doctors.
Can graphic designers work abroad?
Graphic designers are also able to work abroad.
However, before you decide on moving to a foreign country, make sure to inform yourself about working conditions and the salary as those things might be much different compared to what you know from your home country.
Is it stressful to work as a graphic designer?
Being a graphic designer is not that stressful.
While you might have to do quite a lot during busy times of the year, you will have a rather relaxed life most of your workdays and will not suffer from stress as much as people who work in a different field.
Is it boring to work as a graphic designer?
Working as a graphic designer might become boring if you are not interested and passionate about what you are doing for a living.
Hence, before you decide on becoming a graphic designer, you should really ask yourself whether you want to work in this industry for quite a long time.
Is being a graphic designer hard?
Since you will do most of the work with a computer and use your brain instead of having to stress your body, working as a graphic designer cannot be considered hard.
Instead, you will have a rather relaxed time at work.
Are graphic designers at risk of burnout?
Graphic designers are not at great risk of burnout since they have a rather relaxed time at work and also don’t have to work much overtime.
Consequently, their overall stress level is rather low and so is the risk of suffering from burnout.
Is there a dress code for graphic designers?
There is no fixed dress code for graphic designers. Instead, you can wear whatever you feel most comfortable in as long as it looks professional.
This is especially important during client meetings to make a good impression and to maintain contact with your clients in the long run.
What kind of graphic designers are paid the most?
The better you get at what you are doing and the better you understand the digital landscape, the more you can make as a graphic designer.
In fact, as long as you hone your craft, you will be able to make pretty decent money from what you are doing.
What percentage of graphic designers are women?
The ratio between men and women who work in the graphic design industry is pretty balanced.
In fact, it is almost 50:50 and you will have equal chances in this regard, no matter what gender you belong to.
Do I need a mentor to succeed as a graphic designer?
You don’t need a mentor to succeed in the graphic design industry.
However, it can still help to build a strong business network to acquire new clients and also to stay up-to-date with latest developments in this industry.
Will you be personally liable for mistakes as a graphic designer?
Most of the time, you will not be personally liable for mistakes if you work as an employed graphic designer.
However, if you want to be 100% sure in this regard, you should ask a lawyer.
Do graphic designers have a high life expectancy?
Graphic designers have a pretty decent life expectancy since they don’t have much stress at work and also have a rather standard workweek with lots of leisure.
Consequently, their risk of suffering from serious health issues will be rather low.
Do graphic designers suffer from sleeping problems?
Graphic designers don’t suffer from sleeping problems most of the time since they don’t have to work in the evening or at nighttime and rather work in a 9 to 5 environment where it is easy to maintain a healthy sleeping pattern.
What states are best for working as a graphic designer?
Since you can do your work online and can work remotely, you should choose a state where living costs are pretty low so that you don’t need to get a second job and can cover all your expenses from your day job as a graphic designer.
Who do graphic designers work with?
Graphic designers work with many different clients.
Hence, it is important that you are an open person and also have a talent for bonding with clients to stay happy with and successful in what you are doing in the long run.
Is working as a graphic designer cool?
Many people consider working as a graphic designer cool.
However, you should still not care that much about the opinion of others and rather do what’s interesting for you instead of caring about the coolness factor that much.
Can you start a side hustle as a graphic designer?
It is pretty easy to start a side hustle as a graphic designer.
In fact, you can do many jobs on the side on weekends or after work or you could also start your own blog or YouTube channel.
Do you have to be creative as a graphic designer?
Being creative definitely helps as a graphic designer.
Only if you are creative, you will be able to reinvent yourself and meet the high expectations of your clients.
Do graphic designers suffer from being overweight?
Since graphic designers work in a classical office environment and don’t exercise enough at work, many of them also suffer from being overweight and if you want to avoid those issues, you would have to go to the gym or do other sports after work.
How employable are graphic designers?
Graphic designers are pretty employable right now since the attention of people shifts from classical to digital media and if you become a real expert in digital design, chances are that you will have excellent prospects for many years to come.
Are graphic designers happy with their jobs?
Many graphic designers are happy with what they are doing for a living since they have more than enough leisure while they can still make decent money at the same time.
Is working as a graphic designer exciting?
Being a graphic designer is not that exciting.
Even though you will learn many new skills on the job, you will still not have the same level of action as police officers or firemen who are often pumped with adrenaline.
Can you have a positive impact on our environment as a graphic designer?
You will have a rather limited positive impact on our environment as a graphic designer.
Most often, you will just do what’s best for your clients and will not care about the impact on our planet that much.
What are the pros and cons of working as a graphic designer?
If you still want to become a graphic designer, you should also have a look at the additional pros and cons of a graphic designer career.
Interviews and own research.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.
This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.
Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.
I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.
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