Graphic DesignerJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

A Graphic Designer is the perfect position for those who have a love and passion for being creative. Graphic designers use a wide variety of digital tools to help them develop layouts and designs for projects. Projects that graphic designers work on include magazines, digital advertisements, product packaging, brochures, social media posts, product lineups, and corporate messaging. 

Graphic designers need to know which colors, fonts, and sizes perfectly go together to form a reaction in others. This reaction will vary depending on the field of work, but can include making someone want to buy the product, invoking an emotional reaction (happy or sad), or inspiring someone to change. Duties in the job include meeting with clients to understand their needs for a project, using different software to finish projects, revising projects if requested by clients, and creating logo designs. Graphic designers typically need formal education, including a bachelor’s degree.

Sample job description

[Your Company Name] is in search of a graphic designer. This candidate will be responsible for creating aesthetically pleasing images that accompany written text. Duties include meeting with clients to establish needs, using design software to complete projects, and revising projects based on client feedback. By handling the visual side of our company, you will be responsible for working with other creative team members to produce quality content. The ideal candidate will create guidelines for how logos and other branding materials should be displayed and used, as well as help make design choices for all content used by the company. Attention to detail is a must, and knowledge of color theory, unique fonts, negative space, and other design elements is essential. This candidate must have mastery of industry standard software, and the ability to clearly communicate their ideas behind design choices. 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Attend kickoff meetings with the client or art director to assess project scope
  • Identify the message and objective of the piece
  • Design visual assets that capture the desired product or message
  • Select fonts, colors, photography, and other elements for layout and design
  • Present concepts and assets to the client or art director
  • Receive and implement client feedback

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in digital media, fine art, visual communications, or a similar field. However, companies will make exceptions for candidates with outstanding portfolios and hands-on work experience.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Expertise in traditional and digital graphic design tools, such as Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Strong knowledge of visual design principles
  • Robust multitasking and time management skills
  • Ability to thrive under tight deadlines

Preferred qualifications

  • 3+ years of design experience
  • Knowledge of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Canva
  • Experience creating both large and small design graphics

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for a graphic designer is $60,000 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$59,650$80,750
Los Angeles, California$67,300$91,100
Denver, Colorado$56,100$75,900
Washington, DC$68,350$92,450
Miami, Florida$55,850$75,550
Orlando, Florida$51,500$69,700
Tampa, Florida$52,000$70,400
Atlanta, Georgia$54,550$73,850
Chicago, Illinois$62,750$84,850
Boston, Massachusetts$67,850$91,750
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$54,050$73,150
New York City, New York$71,400$96,600
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$58,150$78,650
Dallas, Texas$56,600$76,600
Houston, Texas$56,100$75,900
Seattle, Washington$65,300$88,300
National Average$51,000$69,000

Typical work environment

Graphic designers typically work at an office desk with a computer and/or tablet, but may also work with other departments due to the projects they help design. The graphic designer may also work remotely, and some will need to travel out of town based on who their clients are and whether they are freelance or contracted with one company. 

Typical hours

The work hours for a graphic designer are typically from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, in an office setting. However, longer or different hours may, at times, be necessary.

Available certifications

Graphic designers require college degrees and several years of experience before being eligible and considered for this creative position. By furthering their knowledge and skills through education, training, and certifications, qualified candidates will have an advantage over others when applying for employment. Here are some of the most popular certifications:

Adobe Certified Associate (ACA). An industry-recognized credential showcasing entry-level graphic design skills with Adobe software. To earn this certification, you must pass an exam related to your choice of Adobe software applications. 

Graphic Design Specialization (GDS). A course from CalArts through Coursera, Graphic Design Specialization teaches fundamental skills related to graphic design. With course materials available online, students have the opportunity to complete the GDS at their own pace. 

UI/UX Design Specialization. UI/UX Design Specialization is a course from CalArts through Coursera. In this course, students learn many graphic design elements including user research, defining strategy, and developing frameworks for design.

UX Design Professional Certificate. Coursera also offers a UX Design Professional Certification. In this online course, you will learn basics needed for an entry level job with UX design, using software applications common for work in graphic design. 

Graphic and Digital Design Certificate. The program from Parsons School of Design comprises 8 courses that give you a thorough understanding of graphic design related topics including color theory, design graphics, digital imaging, typography, communication, and promotional design.

Career path

The road to becoming a graphic designer can take several twists and turns.

Many candidates begin their journey by earning a bachelor’s degree in one of the arts and design majors. These degrees include fine art, visual communications, photography, digital media, and more.

It is also possible to start a career in graphic design without a degree by building an outstanding creative portfolio. Be it spec work designed on your own time, smaller projects for local clients, or pro bono work, a strong portfolio can make the difference for aspiring graphic designers.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 27-1024

2020 Employment254,100
Projected Employment in 2030261,400
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 3% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift7,300 increase

Although traditional publishing houses are declining, the rise in digital advertising means graphic designers will remain an integral part of any marketing team.

As creators, marketers, and industry thought leaders connect and share their work online, graphic design trends continue to evolve at a fast pace. Motion, animation, and other rich media-friendly elements will help graphic designers create compelling interactive content. Learning the tools required to produce these assets will be essential for any graphic designer candidate.

Sample interview questions

  • What are the steps of your creative process as a graphic designer? 
  • How do you respond when a client criticizes your work? 
  • What key metrics do you use to track the success of your graphic design? 
  • How do you continue to follow and educate yourself on the latest design trends?
  • What is color theory, and why is it important in graphic design? 
  • How do you organize your work and manage your projects? 
  • Why did you choose to become a graphic designer? 
  • What is the significance of communication in graphic design? 
  • What are your favorite hobbies? 
  • Why do you want to work for us? 
  • Where do you find your inspiration for graphic design? 
  • Is there a favorite graphic designer you follow? 
  • How did you design your portfolio? 
  • What software do you use? 
  • Which design software are you most comfortable using?
  • Which design software are you least comfortable using? 
  • How might your work differ between developers, copywriters, and project managers?
  • Can you describe your design aesthetic?

Graphic Designer Jobs in Ashburn

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