What types of jobs are in graphic design?

A career in graphic design can be an exciting way to combine art, technology, and communication. These professionals are needed on many projects in a variety of fields, including marketing and advertising, publishing, healthcare, and digital communications. As you begin exploring jobs in graphic design, it is beneficial to understand your career prospects and what various positions entail. In this article, we explore 11 common graphic design jobs—including their average salaries, duties, and requirements.

What do graphic designers do?

Graphic designers create graphics and layouts for a wide variety of products, including company logos, websites, clothing, books, games, and product user manuals. These professionals must possess a strong knowledge of color theory, image construction, font types, and many other artistic principles to determine the strongest appeal to the brand’s target market. They use a variety of computerized design programs to sketch new designs and incorporate existing brand details to create innovative designs that appeal to the brand’s target demographic.

Graphic design jobs typically require the following skills and qualifications:

  • Computerized sketching abilities
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Communication
  • Understanding of audience targeting
  • Proficiency in computer-aided design (CAD) software, including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, InDesign, Corel Graphics Suite or Paintshop Pro

Types of graphic design jobs

A degree relating to graphic design can be beneficial for a range of careers. The best job for you depends on your interests, skills, career goals, and values. Here are 11 graphic design-related jobs to explore as you begin your job search:

1. Photo editor

Primary duties: Photo editors work with real-life images to adjust, color-correct, or combine images to create the desired final image. Image editing can be as simple as adjusting the lighting and color balance on a photograph or as drastic as changing garment colors or adding logo information or banners to the image.

Careers focusing on editing photography have less of an emphasis on graphic design, but they require complete knowledge of Photoshop, which is typically covered in a graphic design program. It is often beneficial for companies to employ a designer who can alter images when the product image does not accurately represent the final product, as images may need to be taken before a design is finalized.

Requirements: An in-depth knowledge of Photoshop and other photo-editing software is required. Many companies may prefer an associate or bachelor’s degree in photography, graphic design or product design, but it may not be required for candidates who possess expert knowledge of photo-editing software and have a strong portfolio of work.

3. Logo designer

Primary Duties: Logo designers develop visually compelling graphics or symbols to represent a company, product, brand, or service. They research the target demographic to gain a strong understanding of what symbols they find appealing and memorable. This designer then chooses distinct colors and shapes that relate to and establish the brand identity of the company or product. Logo designers must also be aware of other designs in the marketplace so they are not copying or recreating a trademarked logo.

Requirements: The job requirements of a logo designer will vary based on the company, but typically an associate or bachelor’s degree in graphic design is required. Strong illustration abilities and an understanding of consumer advertising can be considered in place of a degree. Logo designers can work on a freelance basis or full-time for an advertising agency, both of which are likely to require a strong portfolio.

4. Web designer

Primary duties: Web designers assist in developing websites by creating individual web pages, designing page layouts, and developing graphics for the website. They are also responsible for designing the navigation menus, drop-down options, and the website’s structure. They may have coding and programming skills, which would allow them to completely develop the website on their own. Web designers partner with the website’s brand or marketing team to determine what content is included on each page and where to place graphics, as well as to ensure continuity as consumers browse the website.

Requirements: As online sales and advertising continue to grow, employers are seeking web designers with a strong knowledge of technology, website layout design, programming, and graphic design. Most jobs require previous web design experience, a strong portfolio, and at least an associate degree related to web or graphic design.

5. Multimedia designer

Primary duties: Multimedia designers create complex animated images and videos using art and computerized animation programs. They plan out the animation by sketching, creating scale models, and developing computerized graphics to build the story. They are responsible for developing the graphics for the story’s characters, background scenes, and props.

Multimedia designers can work in a variety of fields including television or film production, set design, and video game development. If they work in film or set design, they may also be responsible for directing set assistants and lighting crew in the execution of their design intent.

Requirements: A career in multimedia design requires creative thinking and strong imaginative abilities to develop innovative, fantasy designs. Typically, an associate or bachelor’s degree in a visually creative field, such as graphic design, multimedia digital art, web design or user experience design is required for multimedia designers. Many multimedia jobs also require previous experience producing videos and using CAD software.

6. Advertising designer

Advertising designers use graphic design, sketching, and photography to create visually compelling marketing materials for a brand or company. They create billboards, magazine advertisements, website advertisements, and any other requested promotional materials. They sketch or use CAD software to develop an initial concept based on marketing and public relations strategies. They may create a few variations of a concept to present to the advertising leadership, and they listen to the leadership’s feedback to perfect the final design.

7. Art director

The art director is a high-level executive responsible for guiding the design team’s vision, directing the theme concept, and overseeing all design artwork. They can work in a variety of industries including fashion, print publications, advertising, television, or consumer products. The director may be employed by the brand or as a freelancer, but they always work closely with the client or sales team to understand their artistic vision.

The art director is responsible for reviewing and approving designs completed by the art and graphics teams. As an executive, the art director also works closely with the marketing, financial, creative, and customer service directors to coordinate projects and maintain a consistent brand image.