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Q&A - Graphic Design Jobs & Careers

Where will I work in my graphic design career?

As a graphic designer you will work in a local design firm or in-house for a corporation. In a graphic design job, you will likely work indoors in a studio or office as part of a larger creative staff. Some of the tools you can expect to work with are drafting tables, computers, cameras and specialized software. As a graphic designer, you will be required to make important decisions under tight deadlines and communicate your ideas visually and verbally to both your team and your clients.

Graphic design careers are conducive to telecommuting as shown by the 29% of graphic designers who were self-employed in 2010. As long as you have the right equipment at home, and you do not mind working alone, you may want to work for yourself. Aside from working directly or indirectly with clients, you may also collaborate with artists, illustrators, computer programmers, writers and marketers in your graphic design career.

How long does it take to find a job in graphic design?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that there will be a significant increase in graphic design jobs over the next decade. While the field in general will grow by about 13%, which is average for all occupations, certain subfields of graphic design will increase even further.

Because many positions will become available in specific graphic design fields, you will be able to find a job in those fields relatively quickly. For example, there will be a 61% increase in computer systems design jobs, a 27% increase in specialized design services jobs and a 17% increase in advertising design jobs. However, jobs in printing will only increase by 2%, and jobs in publishing are expected to decline by 4%.

If you want a career in graphic design, the competition will be stiff. The BLS anticipates many qualified people will be trying to enter the field in the future. Whether you have a degree from a brick-and-mortar school or an online program, you will need to stand out among the other job applicants by having the right skill sets and exceptional talent.

How have graphic design careers changed over the years?

Since graphic design essentially entails communicating ideas visually, it has actually been around since ancient times. Now that the Internet has become entrenched in daily life, including everything from education and business to shopping and communication, most careers in graphic design now include significant web and electronic media components.

Graphic designers 20 years ago might have completed only an occasional electronic or web based project, but graphic designers today do a vast amount of work for online media, smartphones, gaming systems, entertainment and other digital projects. This shift has also contributed to more graphic designers being able to telecommute or work remotely.

A graphic design career also increasingly requires some marketing knowledge and an understanding of the principles behind what motivates consumers. You will encounter more classes with a marketing focus in your course of study, and many graphic design degree jobs will require you to have an understanding of how to influence and sell to other people.

What are the top employers for graphic design jobs?

There are a number of popular industries and employers that hire graphic designers. Some of the companies that widely hire graphic designers are entertainment and media companies like Walt Disney, Dreamworks and Clear Channel Communications and technology firms like Apple, Microsoft, Google and Adobe.

You might also find work with education and government institutions like Stanford University, University of California, Los Angeles, the Department of Defense and the City of Houston. Companies that provide goods and services, such as Nike, Hallmark, Whole Foods, Mattel, U.S. Airways and Kaiser Permanente, also look to hire graphic designers for a variety of projects. Plus there is always the option to be self-employed.

If you are looking for jobs with a graphic design degree, you will have an advantage over those trying to enter the field without a degree. To be competitive with other candidates, you should get a degree from a top graphic design program or at least a graphic design certification.

Always keep in mind that a strong portfolio can outweigh the name on a diploma, so you should look for courses and internships where you can create reputable samples. There will be plenty of jobs for graphic design majors available over the next decade. Whether you graduate from a traditional or online program, you should develop relationships with mentors and peers who can help you start your career.