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How to become a graphic designer 

Graphic designers construct graphical messages that are viewed daily all over the world. Designers create enjoyment, advertising, information, and highlights for print media (magazines, brochures). Also, online and broadcast platforms like game consoles, television, online browsers, social sites, and devices.

As technology becomes more complicated, so are the responsibilities and talents of graphic designers. This thorough profession and degree resource analyses the function of graphic designers, the most prevalent pathways into the field, and the courses and institutions that are accessible. 

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What is the role of a graphic designer?

Image for part: What is the role of a graphic designer?

Graphic designers transmit exciting and instructive concepts in advertising, flyers, and other marketing tools. Some graphic designers work independently, while others work for professional design firms. Print and web designers utilize advanced visual tools to control text, images, motions, and color.

To meet schedules, many graphic designers perform full-time. Graphic designers who work for themselves must be adaptable, as customers may want meetings in the evenings and on weekends. Customer experience and client happiness, like in so many other businesses, are essential to succeed. Also, becoming a successful graphic designer entails knowing how to negotiate on contracts, promote services, and build a customer base.

A graphic designer's profession focuses on communication. Although their responsibilities may include substantial effort with pictures, unlike painters, they do not create "art for the sake of art." Depending on their client's requirements, graphic designers convey a message, action statement, or emotion. A graphic designer, for example, is responsible for developing a brand or logo that can impact customers by using a distinct form or color palette. While much graphic-design task is achievable with the help of computers, it may also be multimedia or include visual effects.

Projects may require adjustment for viewing on many different channels, such as internet browsers, tablet computers, and mobile phones, as it is the fastest expanding area. Designers may concentrate on the graphics domain in addition to acquiring fundamental all-around expertise. Some of the more prevalent specializations are;

  • Branding & Advertising - print, web
  • Product Packaging
  • Logos
  • Email Blasts & eNewsletters
  • Interface / User Experience Design
  • Print / Web Production
  • Web Design
  • Typography
  • Book Design

While designers may like to work in a particular medium, expertise is not necessary to succeed. To maintain their employment possibilities open, most graphic designers regularly work for a range of customers. But, having many skills allows you greater flexibility and can help to grow clients and overall prospects.

Job Market Outlook for Graphic Designer

Graphic designer salaries vary around the United States, depending on parameters such as expertise, education, job type, and geographic area. As per the BLS in 2014, the average annual pay for graphic designers was $45,900, with the top 10percent earning more than $77,490. 

As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job opportunities for graphic designers will rise by 7% between 2012 - 2022. For a range of factors, this employment rate is lower than the national average for all jobs. Because of the fast development and implementation of electronic media, the demand for graphic designers in print media has steadily declined, requiring the hiring of designers who can work in both digital and print mediums.

According to the BLS, employment with newspaper, magazine, and catalog publishers will decrease by 16% over the next decade. On the other hand, job vacancies for graphics experts in computer systems design and associated services will expand by 35%, particularly in the domains of web-based graphics creation, handheld devices, and video media.

Steps on how to become a graphic designer

Image for part: Steps on how to become a graphic designer
  1. Begin developing your skill sets in school   - It is better to start early in any subject, but it is especially crucial in graphic design. Students should study the history of art, illustration, visual arts, and web design subjects in high school and utilize these newly acquired talents to create and produce the school newsletter or yearbook. Graphic design requires a keen eye and vivid imagination with excellent practical abilities and technical proficiency. 
  2. Obtain a degree in graphic design  - Previously visual artist's artistic portfolio was enough for hiring. But nowadays, many employers are seeking designers with a more thorough and all-round education, which can only be obtainable through a university degree. Although a credential or an associate's degree in the subject may be suitable in some situations, the BLS says that new designers are more likely to get a decent work opportunity after completing a bachelor's degree. The National Association of Colleges of Art and Design now accredits around 300 post-secondary universities in the United States. There are several educational possibilities available, ranging from public institutions to private institutions to prominent art schools. An increasing number of online courses are also accessible. The program includes studio artwork, design concepts, commercial graphic elements, online design, marketing, and visuals-relevant computer applications. Marketing and business modules may also be present in the program, as designers have to create and present professional work ideas and effectively pitch themselves to prospective customers. Visual arts students should opt for an approved program from a respected institution irrespective of the precise degree they pick.
  3. Complete an internship -    Internships are not a requirement in all graphic design schools. But some institutions provide students with an ideal chance to obtain hands-on experience, build professional ties in the design world and generate work ideal for presenting in their portfolio.
  4. Develop a portfolio -    While an impressive résumé is essential in any job hunt, a compelling portfolio is the most valuable tool for seeking a career in graphic design. Though graphic designers will require a resume, a collection displaying a diversity of work and evolution as an artist is the only approach for a hiring manager to grasp a candidate's ability. A graphic design portfolio used to be a straightforward compilation of an artist's top newspaper and magazine advertising. Professional design collections are more complex these days, comprising print media, digital advertising, website visuals, tv ad clip, and animation sample. It is not unusual for job candidates to bring entirely digital copies of their portfolio on videotape to interviews, in addition to the more conventional paper form, and many artists also have their latest and modern design portfolio sites. Establishing a broad and diverse portfolio is challenging for students who are just commencing due to the small number of final versions they have done. In such an instance, they can prioritize quality over quantity, displaying just their top design examples and a portfolio tailored to satisfy the unique objectives of a potential company.
  5. Gain up-to-date knowledge about the industry -   Graphic design is a profession that is continually growing and evolving. Artists must stay up with commercial and aesthetic developments in the business. They must also maintain up to speed on the latest and revised computer graphics and designing software tools, which are evolving. It is especially the case for designers who work as freelancers or who want to advance to senior positions within their firms. Associations like the American Institute of Graphic Arts and the Graphic Artists Guild educate their members on modern innovation, software, and methods. Obtaining vendor-relevant design software training courses might also help.
  6. Pursuing advanced courses   - Graphic designers may opt to further their abilities, creativity, and in-depth understanding of the industry by pursuing a college education or post-secondary qualification. There are master's degree options especially designed for designers who want to improve in theoretical studies (MA) or focus on a studio specialization course (MFA).

Exploring Academic Options in Graphic Design

Image for part: Exploring Academic Options in Graphic Design

Whenever entering any higher education program, students must have a clear understanding of their long and short-term priorities, especially why they want to seek this degree, the level of qualification they are willing to pursue, and what they want from the course. For most students, a certificate is only a means to an end, a new job, better employment, or skill development. 

Degree courses are consecutive in structure, with early students focusing on developing core skills and understanding essential ideas in visual storytelling at colleges that provide undergraduate certifications or associate credentials. Others may be prepared to commit to the four-year bachelor's degree necessary for full engagement of work. Professionals frequently return to school to learn improved techniques, new skills or polish their art.

Degree courses for Graphic designers

For every level of learning and skill advancement in graphic design, the intricacy increases with each successive stage. For first-year students, a two-year graduate course may be the ideal place to begin. These degrees often have the lowest university fees and, for some students, are a cost-effective method to get experience for entry-level work in the visual arts sector.

Many design occupations need a graduate degree as the minimal educational achievement. Students pursuing a master's degree concentrate on studio abilities and establishing a professional approach, project management, and extensive design concept and methods.

Associate degrees

The Associate of Arts and Science programs integrate arts study with the standard school curriculum. To finish a degree, students must earn 65 credits over two years. The degree program includes initial graphic design classes and arts and science subjects that may apply to a four-course.

Basic modules in design methods and technologies, typography, color theory, visual effects, digital imaging, and print/digital manufacturing may be present in the initial term coursework. Students pursuing an associate degree may attend classes like;

  1. Fundamentals of Design -    Introduction to the aspects of design as a medium for proper communication, and the subjects are principles and uses of design components and connections. Skills involve identifying design applications for patterns, colors, textures, forms, numbers, and white space concepts applicable to graphic design jobs.
  2. Overview to Composition and typography -   Students learn about typeface and how it influences message, brand, and expression in design. Skills attained are basic knowledge of type layouts and patterns applied in text and branding, standard grasp of how customers view visual data.
  3. Concept Of Color -   Students grasp an understanding of color, like how it affects cultural or cognitive layers and the consequences of color combinations. Skills obtained entails color design knowledge in printing, online, multimedia, and mobile applications.
  4. Web Design -   Overview of graphic design techniques in digital and multimedia publication. This program emphasizes technical settings as well as navigation, usability, and online best practices. Skills achieved are developing graphic design processes from the top to down for online projects. The emphasis is on approach and philosophy rather than particular code or interface software development.

Bachelor Degrees

Bachelor's degree courses in graphic design generally last four years and include 120–180 college credits of coursework separated into fundamental education, core courses in art and design, and specializations. Students can select one of the following degrees;

Bachelor of Art or Science

The BA or BS in graphic arts is an all-round general degree that provides graduates with essential aesthetic and operational abilities and frameworks in visual art concepts.

Bachelor of Fine arts in Graphic design

The BFA course is a professional degree that focuses on studio practice and involves acquiring ability and capabilities in interactive design, typeface, and visual effects.

The upper-division subjects from graduate programs listed below demonstrate the growth and depth of learning given further than the two-year degree level;

  1. Online and Print Production Contexts -    The program prepares you for creating manufacturing graphics and documents for print and portable devices. The skills achievable are hands-on experience developing design principles and generating files employing industry-standard project management techniques and design tools. 
  2. Digital Design Media Management   - This intensive course combines print and digital strategies for developing and implementing visual messages across several platforms with varying deadlines. The skills and knowledge attained are the capability to organize employees or supervise a sequence of processes. Project management applications and design creation methods are present to students.
  3. Graphic Designer as Entrepreneur  - Design students learn about the background, change, and current implications of communication technologies and how to develop a successful business. The skills involve the real-world implementation of principles and best methods. And understanding of business, advertising, and promotion tactics tailored for design innovators.
  4. Portfolio Creation - Students create an excellent portfolio by compiling past design work. Seniors have to take this course as part of their graduation requirements. The skills gathered include constructing a portfolio of work that shows skill and artistic progression. Also, competence to display a portfolio and convey one's talents and qualities coherently.

Master's Degree

Graphic design students can pursue two advanced degrees. MA is a conceptual and educationally developed degree, whereas the MFA is the highest professional course available to graphic designers and associated experts. Another difference is that the MA candidate emphasizes a single academic specialization like getting training for teaching. And the MFA student can experiment with a broad range of skill applicability and alternative disciplines. MA students must complete a study or academic thesis, while MFA students must finish an artistic project or portfolio.

Based on the course and graphic design colleges, these certifications take two to three years to finish. MFA graduates utilize their portfolios or degree assignments to tackle real communication difficulties or display newly integrated additional skills. Here is the list of six skills to learn from an MFA course.

  • Visual Literacy

Students of the MFA course have a solid foundation in design and graphics creation. To develop a compelling product, they display an overall understanding of color analysis and typography.

  • Creative Thinking

Graduate students seek to manage artistic or business challenges comprehensively. MFA graduates have to gain professional experience in the sector, displaying creative flexibility and expertise in translating thoughts into customer deliverables.

  • Artistic Originality

MFA students seek to convey themselves creatively. They are mindful of the techniques at their disposal, yet they are not bound to a specific approach or style. They have the understanding and skills to create and build their distinctive style and communicate their unique ideas.

  • Collaboration

Even online degree students work collaboratively to accomplish their MFA courses. Understanding how to function efficiently with demanding customers and communicate with design and technology groups might be the gap between accomplishment and failure. Graduates possess the interpersonal and leadership abilities necessary to maximize the effectiveness of a design team.

  • Business Acumen

Graphic designers, when working individually or with a design agency, rely on talents in sales, marketing, and client relations. MFA graduates have worked in the fields of business, entrepreneurship, and marketing. They understand how to market designs to customers, present to creative directors, and negotiate professional and corporate relationships professionally and consistently.

  • Motion Graphics

Graduates exhibit proficiency in the theory and implementation of visual effects in entertainment, television, online, and digital media production. Graduates are also well-versed in software and industry-standard technologies. Adobe After Effects, 3D Studio Max, etc., are examples of such applications.

Online Graphic Design Universities

Graphic design colleges may provide credentials with the same designation (AA, BA, MFA). But the coursework and educational performances of each course might vary greatly depending on the emphasis and faculty experience. Also, there is a significant difference in pricing, with inexpensive public universities and elite art schools being the most expensive.

Although cost is an essential consideration when evaluating online colleges, students should also determine that the curriculum they choose is the right fit for their professional goals and design concentration. When assessing potential online resources, three crucial aspects to examine are;

Student Learning results

Graphic design divisions around the country are responsible for designing and delivering learning results. Browse departmental websites for a set of goals and anticipated abilities for graduating students while considering potential graphic design colleges. Examining the list of outputs can disclose the academic specialty of prospective visual arts institutions, assisting in bringing a program's objectives in emphasis with career aspirations.

Faculty with graphic design expertise and practical experience

On the university websites that provide graphic design courses, a collection of faculty members and their profiles is usually available. When evaluating biographies, check where the faculty member obtained their degree, the scope of their knowledge, their articles, accolades, and academic achievements. Simultaneously, evaluate to see if the staff has advisors and teachers with hands-on expertise in the subject. Some colleges and universities welcome assistant or visiting teachers who also work as designers, art directors, or illustrators. What is the course's field of expertise, and how does the staff add to it? Note that instructors with present training and participation in active design groups can improve internship chances and establishing network connections.

FAQs

Image for part: FAQs

Q1. What qualifications are necessary to become a graphic designer?

Answer: To create persuasive graphics that convey their clients' ideas, graphic designers must integrate analytical abilities with creative aptitude. They must be able to use advanced visual art tools and spend time creating concepts on paper. Exceptional communication skills are necessary because a substantial amount of time goes into interacting with customers and organizing work with personnel of a design team. Graphic designers have to finish many tasks at the same time, so time management skills are crucial. 

A visual artist understands how to employ digital techniques to address business problems. Professional portfolios displaying experience and diversity of projects are the most valuable qualification for graphic designers. Earning a university certificate in visual arts is also vital for students, as most firms prefer candidates with this degree, as per BLS.

Acquiring vendor-specific qualifications in the usage of design technologies is another credential. These certificates measure a professional's ability to utilize a design product or technique.

Graphic Designer Tools and Techniques 

Competent graphic designers combine an underlying academic understanding of aesthetic communications concepts with modern design methods. These techniques are many and diverse, and the ones the graphic designer employs will be determined by their sphere of expertise within the discipline.

 Print designer graphic tools;

  • Adobe PageMaker
  • Adobe FrameMaker
  • QuarkXPress
  • Adobe InDesign

Digital designer graphic tools;

  • Adobe FreeHand
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe Fireworks
  • CorelDraw Graphics Suite
  • Adobe Dreamweaver

 Motion graphic designer tools;

  • 3D Studio Max
  • Adobe After Effects
  • Autodesk Maya
  • MoGraph

Also, general designers can have a strong foundation in a range of print and digital contexts or specialize in one or two main applications. 

Q2. What skills are essential for graphic design?

Answer:  

  • Exceptional computer abilities, particularly with design and photo-editing applications.
  • Outstanding imagination and innovation
  • Incredible time management and organizational abilities.
  • Precision and eye for detail
  • A grasp of new developments and their relevance in a business setting.  

Q3. Which country pays the highest salary for a graphic designer?

Answer: 

  1. United States - $89,200
  2. United Kingdom - $72,500
  3. Ireland - $76,200
  4. Germany - $76,500
  5. Switzerland - $115,500
  6. New Zealand - $60,000
  7. Australia - $68,000
  8. Denmark - $60,000
  9. Norway - $59,000
  10. Canada - $50,000

Q4. What types of employment are available for graphic designers?

Answer:  Graphic designers can apply for a variety of job descriptions. The following are some of the positions that applicants with a graphic design certification can get employed;

  • Graphic Designer
  • Multimedia Artist/Animator
  • Art Director
  • Industrial/Product Designer
  • Film and Video Editor
  • Creative Director

Check out the guide on how to write a graphic designer resume, to apply for a job position. You will also need a cover letter to complete your job application, here is a full resource on how to write a cover letter for graphic designer.

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