Careers with a Graphic Design Degree


As a graphic design graduate, you will be well qualified to pursue professions such as "web designer", "digital animator" and "magazine designer", along with many others.



More On What You Can Do With a Graphic Design Degree

By providing you with the proper knowledge base and skill set, a certificate, diploma or degree in this field has prepared you well for the ever-evolving requirements of the graphic design and visual communications industry, thus providing you with a wide array of career options.


So, if you’d like to know more about what you can do with a graphic design degree or diploma, read on below. This careers guide contains detailed occupational information on professions relevant to this degree. Included are job descriptions, expected salaries, educational requirements and other helpful information.





What a Graphic Design Program Can Teach You

Graphic design diploma, certificate and degree programs typically use a hands-on approach and applied elements to prepare you for a career directly in the field of graphic design and visual communications.


Coursework such as studio art, principles of design, computerized design, commercial graphics production, printing techniques, and website design teach you how to structure and organize visual information for the purpose of effectively communicating ideas to your intended audience.


Because of the evolving nature of the digital communication industry, a graphic design education also teaches you how to maintain current knowledge of available technologies, techniques and practices. When you are working in the field after graduation, you will come to know that as a graphic design professional, you must often provide your client with research, cost planning project management and quality control. So naturally, you must be well versed in these areas prior to graduation.


To prepare you for all of these various professional responsibilities, it is common for schools to require you to complete coursework in complimentary areas such as business, accounting, communications, media studies or management. Education in these areas will also go a long way to helping you to progress in your career, into positions of greater responsibility.



Employable Skills You Can Gain

Your education and training will enable you to gain a skill set that is highly applicable to careers in the broad field of graphic design. These skills include:


• Able to use a variety of computer aided design (CAD) programs to effectively communicate ideas

• Able to communicate to clients your reasons for making certain design decisions

• Able to listen to and understand the needs of clients

• Able to transform written, verbal and immaterialized ideas into visual form

• Able to work on multiple projects simultaneously while adhering to strict deadlines

• Skills in project coordination and management 



Directly Relevant Careers

The following is a list of careers that are highly relevant to your degree, certificate or diploma in graphic design, as a result of the skills and competencies that an education in this field enables you to earn:


• Advertising Consultant

• Advertising Illustrator

• Animation Instructor

• Animator

• Architectural Illustrator

• Architectural Technologist

• Art Director

• Art Editor

• Billboard Designer

• Blogger

• Cartoonist

• Colourizing Technician

• Commercial Artist

• Consumer Advocate

• Corporate Designer

• Creative Director

• Digital Animator

• Digital Artist

• Drafting Technician

• Editorial Illustrator

• Entrepreneur

• Fashion Illustrator

• Film Animator

• Graphic Designer

• Greeting Card Designer

• Layout Artist

• Layout Designer

• Logo Designer

• Magazine Designer

• Medical Illustrator

• Multimedia Designer

• Package Designer

• Photo Editor

• Photo Retoucher

• Photo Technician

• Scientific Illustrator

• Technical Illustrator

• User Interface Designer

• Video Game Developer

• Wallpaper Designer

• Web Designer

• Webmaster


Please Note: Some of the above listed careers may require additional education, training and experience. Click on careers you’re interested in to find out more about these requirements.





What Kind of Companies Would Hire You?

The following types of organizations often employ graphic design grads. Try looking for work with them, either as a freelancer or as a permanent employee.


• Corporate public relations departments

• Municipal, provincial/state and federal government departments

• Graphic design studios

• Film and television studios

• Advertising agencies

• Multimedia companies

• Web service companies

• Hospitals and health care institutions

• Industrial design studios

• Book publishing firms

• Architectural firms

• Newspapers and magazines

• Printing companies

• Colleges and universities



Develop a Portfolio to Market Yourself

If you decide to pursue a career in graphic design, it is strongly recommended that you develop and maintain a portfolio of your best and most recent work, as it is extremely difficult to secure employment without one.


A good place to start the development of a portfolio is by doing creative work while you’re in school. The good news is, that as a student, you will likely have plenty of chances to complete projects that will provide you with school credit and items for your portfolio.


Whatever you do though, don't limit your portfolio to simply examples of mandatory assignments you had to complete for classes. The more examples of your own creative work you can display in your portfolio, the better.


Speaking to teachers and professors, and letting them know what your professional interests are, can lead to such opportunities. You can also actively pursue opportunities outside of school to volunteer your services, as this is a great way to hone your skills and add to your portfolio.





Salary You Could Earn With This Degree

The salary level you could earn when you enter the workforce isn't so much about what kind of degree you have, it's about how you apply that degree; what kind of professional calling you find, how dedicated you are to it, and many other factors. Regardless of what profession you pursue, your salary will certainly be influenced by the following:


• Your level of education (diploma, bachelor’s, etc.)

• Whether or not you end up working as a graphic designer

• The amount of work experience you’ve accumulated

• The size and type of your employer

• The industry in which you find work

• The region in which you find work


That’s a lot of things that can influence your earnings. To make it easier to determine what you could earn as a graduate of a graphic design program, let’s assume you want to become a graphic designer, and just look at the average salary level of a graphic designer for now.


Graphic Designer Salary - Alberta: According to the 2013 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working as part of the Graphic Designers and Illustrators occupational group earn an average of $52,933 per year.


Graphic Designer Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American graphic designers is $44,150 per year. The lowest 10% of Graphic Designer salaries are below $26,250, and the top 10% are above $77,490 per year.



Relevant Scholarships

Our scholarships database has a bunch of Canadian and American scholarships that are specifically for students in a graphic design program.


Success Tip: Apply for any and all scholarships for which you qualify, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships in Canada and the United States that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants.



Professional Associations

To find out more about careers related to your education in graphic design, consult the following professional association websites. They offer career-related information, and many have job boards that advertise job openings.



Association of Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario

Digital Alberta

The Society of Graphic Designers of Canada


United States

American Institutes of Graphic Artists

Graphic Artists Guild



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