what is a graphic designer?

A graphic designer creates and designs graphics for various media to communicate messages to a specific audience. As a graphic designer, you will use design elements such as typography, images, and layout techniques.

You should familiarize yourself with various tools and software, such as Adobe Creative Suite, Sketch, and Canva, or use pencils and paper or a graphics tablet to create your designs. You will also need skills and knowledge in color theory, typography, user interface design, photography, branding, illustration, and more.

It’s also essential to have good communication, problem-solving abilities, time management skills, and a keen eye for detail. Furthermore, most positions will require a degree or certificate in graphic design or a related field or evidence of your previous work to exhibit your abilities.

You can enjoy the benefits of expressing your aesthetic vision, working with multiple customers and industries, learning new technology and trends, and positively affecting society through your designs.

Would working as a graphic designer suit your passion for creating unique and functional visuals? Then read on to find what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a graphic designer role.

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average graphic designer salary

The average salary for a graphic designer varies depending on several factors, such as location, experience, and industry.

The median salary of a graphic designer in the United States is $50,710 per year, according to 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. However, the type of graphic design position and your employer will play a big role in your pay level. Those who work in printing and related fields earned a median of $39,090 while designers working with newspaper/periodical/book publishers earned a median of  $44,540.The median reaches $52,050 for the advertising and PR fields and $58,610 for specialized design services. 

A graphic designer’s salary also differs by state and city. The highest-paying states for graphic designers are New York, Massachusetts, and California, all of which paid out an average of over $60,000 in 2018.. The lowest-paying states are South Dakota, Wyoming, and Oklahoma.

Wondering what you can earn as a graphic designer? Find out immediately with the Randstad salary checker! You can quickly and easily see what the average salary of a graphic designer is.

female at work using desktop computer
female at work using desktop computer

types of graphic designer

Several types of graphic designers specialize in different kinds of design. Here are some of the common types of graphic designers:

  • visual identity graphic designer: As a visual identity graphic designer, you create the visual elements of a brand, such as logos, business cards, and icons. You also make consistent brand guidelines that communicate the brand's message across different media and applications.
  • user interface graphic designer: You create visual designs of a digital interface, such as websites or mobile apps. The designs should be user-friendly and pleasing. You should ensure the interface meets the users’ and company’s needs and goals. You need to have skills in web design, prototyping, and coding.
  • motion graphic designer: Your job is to create animated graphics and visual effects. You can work on various media such as videos, TV shows, commercials, GIFs, video games, apps, websites, and movies. You need to have skills in animation, storyboarding, and illustration.

working as a graphic designer

What does it take to become a graphic designer? It’s essential to understand the requirements and qualifications necessary for the job. Read on to find out what you need to be a graphic designer.


graphic designer skills and education

To become a graphic designer, you will need:

  • a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a field like visual communication where you will cover design theory, history typography, color theory, digital imaging, and graphic design software such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign
  • an associate’s degree or certificate in graphic design that will take two years or less to cover basic graphic design skills, such as software skills, design principles, and portfolio development
  • to enroll in online courses in graphic design, such as Coursera’s Graphic Design Specialization, which includes lessons on the foundation of graphic design, typography, image making, and the history of graphic design
  • to acquire new graphic design skills or approaches, such as using internet resources such as tutorials, blogs, podcasts, videos, and so on; you will also need to develop personal projects or participate in challenges or contests to improve your graphic design abilities and portfolio

skills and competencies

The following technical skills and soft skills are important for your career:

  • typography skills: You need to arrange words in a visually appealing way by using the appropriate fonts and styles.
  • color theory: As a graphic designer, you need to understand how colors affect each other and how to use them effectively.
  • design principles: It is essential to know how to use white space, balance, alignment, and hierarchy to create good designs.
  • creativity skills: You should generate original and innovative ideas that align with the project’s goals and target audience.
  • time management and organization skills: As a graphic designer, you need to handle multiple projects, meet deadlines, and prioritize tasks by managing your time and workload efficiently.
female sitting in an office
female sitting in an office

FAQs about working as a graphic designer

Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about a graphic designer.

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