Computer Graphic Designer Careers: Job Description & Salary

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What are the pros and cons of a computer graphic designer career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a computer graphic designer is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as a Computer Graphic Designer

Computer graphic designers create digital images for clients for use in advertisements, posters, banners, flyers, websites and other media. Explore the pros and cons to see if this career is right for you.

Pros of Becoming a Computer Graphic Designer
Computer graphic designers working in computer systems design and related services are projected to experience employment growth of 35% from 2012-2022*
Many are self-employed, enabling them to set their own hours and schedules*
Room for advancement and higher pay after 1-3 years.*
The profession is increasing in importance for the marketing and advertising industry*

Cons of Becoming a Computer Graphic Designer
Median annual wage of around $45,000, which is below the U.S. median household income of $53,000 from 2009-2013**
Competitive environment, especially for the self-employed*
Continuing education is necessary throughout the career*

Sources: *The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **U.S. Census Bureau

Essential Career Information

Duties and Responsibilities of a Computer Graphic Designer

A computer graphic designer develops graphics and layouts for company logos, product illustrations and Internet websites. Computer graphic designers determine size and arrangement of illustrative material and copy and select the size and style of the type. As part of a creative team, the designer reviews final layouts and suggests improvements as needed.

Designers need to have a command of tools, design techniques and principles involved in order to execute various projects. They need a thorough understanding of the most up-to-date design software as well as a talent for selecting colors, arranging layouts and utilizing images and text style. Additionally, computer graphic designers need an in-depth understanding of media production and communication via visual media.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the overall field of graphic design is expected to grow about 7% between 2012 and 2022. Opportunities will be best for computer graphic designers with experience in interactive media and website design, especially with the increasing demand for designs and images for mobile Web technologies. Computer graphic artists were expected to see an employment increase of up to 35%. The BLS reported that as of May 2014, graphic designers overall earned a median annual wage of around $45,000.

Computer Graphic Design Requirements

Educational Path

Most computer graphic designers begin their careers with bachelor's degrees in the field of graphic design, but you may also begin with 4-year degree in another field in addition to relevant career training. There are also working graphic designers who have associate's degrees, but you may find that a bachelor's degree provides you with more career skills in a competitive job market. You may even begin by taking career education courses in high school when subjects such as computer graphics, art history or design are available. Graphic designers, like many other professionals who work with technology on a regular basis, also need to remain well-informed of new software or hardware developments.

What do Employers Look for?

Creativity and a knack for design are qualities that most employers require in a computer graphic designer. Some employers also require familiarity with specific software. Here are some examples of job postings from Monster.com in March 2012:

  • A graphic sign company in South Carolina is looking for a computer graphic designer who has design skills as well as keen interpersonal abilities. This person must be able to work with other designers as well as clients.
  • One company in New York City requires a computer graphic designer who is proficient with Adobe software and is able to deliver results as prescribed by clients.
  • Another company in New York is looking for a freelance computer graphics designer who is able to maintain a consistent brand image with quality work.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Graphic designers who have creative talent, a high level of production efficiency and good analytical and problem-solving abilities should be able to stay ahead of the competition. As a computer graphic designer, you should also develop your portfolio with your best works to show to prospective employers. After approximately 1-3 years of experience in the field, computer graphic designers may advance to positions such as art director or computer graphics designer supervisor.

Develop Related Skills

You may also improve job prospects by developing related skills to the field of computer graphic design. Some additional skills successful designers have can include:

  • General office software proficiency, including Word and Excel
  • Creative software knowledge, including Corel Draw, Flexi Sign, QuarkXPress, in addition to Adobe software
  • Ability to learn new skills and equipment quickly
  • Familiar with current and developing computer graphic design trends, including typography and presentation styles

Alternative Career Choices

Craft Artist

If you wish to stay in the creative field, but don't wish to work primarily on a computer, you might consider becoming a craft artist. Craft artists typically pursue an art form in which they have an inherent talent, such as sculpting, painting or drawing. Many craft artists have no formal education. However, in order to develop their skills, some artists pursue individual courses or formal education or training beyond high school. The BLS reported that craft artists could expect a five percent employment growth in the 2010-2020 decade. As of May 2011, craft artists of all types had a median annual wage of around $27,000.

Interior Designer

Interior designers design the general interior aesthetics of a wide variety of buildings, including offices, homes, high rises or cultural centers. Like computer graphic designers, interior decorators must work with clients and deliver results based on the client's desired aesthetic. However, they don't spend as much time on the computer. The profession generally requires a bachelor's degree in interior design, and some states require licensure for those who wish to use the title 'Interior Designer.' According to the BLS, interior designers earned a median annual wage of around $48,000 as of May 2011. Employment growth was expected to be about as fast as average at 19% between 2010 and 2020.

Popular Schools

  • Campus and Online Programs
    1. The Art Institutes

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master - Computer Animation
      • Master - Design & Media Management
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor - Visual Effects and Motion Graphics
      • Bachelor of Arts - Game Art and Design
      • Bachelor of Fine Arts - Media Arts & Animation
      • Bachelor of Science - Design and Technical Graphics
    Associate's
      • Associate of Applied Science - Web Design and Interactive Media
      • Associate - Web Design and Interactive Media
      • Associate of Applied Science - Graphic & Web Design
    Certificate
      • Diploma - 3D Modeling for Animation & Games
      • Diploma - Animation Art & Design
      • Diploma - Game Art & Design
      • Diploma - Web Design & Interactive Media
      • Diploma - Web Design & Interactive Media & Foundation for Design
      • Diploma - Advanced Graphic Design
  • Campus and Online Programs
    2. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Simulation and Visualization (Campus)
      • B.S. - Computer Animation
      • B.S. - Game Art
      • B.S. - Web Design and Development
      • B.S. - Game Design
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Southern New Hampshire University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS Information Technology: Database Design Concentration
      • MS Information Technology: Internet Security Concentration
      • MS in Cyber Security with a concentration in IT management
      • MS in Cyber Security
      • MS in Information Technology with a concentration in software application development
      • MS Information Technology: Web Design Concentration
    Bachelor's
      • BA Graphic Design and Media Arts/ 3-D Modeling & Animation
      • BA in Game Art and Development
      • BS Computer Science
      • BA in Graphic Design
      • BA Graphic Design and Media Arts/Web Design
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technologies - Robot
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Strayer University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. in Information Systems: Software Engineering Management Concentration
      • Master of Science in Information Assurance
      • M.S. in Information Systems: IT Project Management
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Information Technology: Web Development Technology
      • B.S. in Information Technology: Programming Technology
      • B.S. in Information Systems: Cyber Security Management
      • B.S. in Information Systems: IT Project Management
      • B.S. in Information Systems: Technology Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice: Cyber Security Management
    Associate's
      • Associate in Arts in Information Technology
      • Associate in Arts in Information Systems
  • Campus Locations:
    5. Lincoln Tech

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Technology and Skilled Trades
  • Online Programs Available
    6. ECPI University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor's - Cloud Computing
    Associate's
      • Associate's - Network Security
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSM in Information Technology
      • Master: Information Technology
      • Master: IT/Information Security and Assurance
      • Master: Information Technology - Project Management
      • MS in Cybersecurity Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Cybersecurity
      • BS in IT in Business
      • BS in Information Technology/Information Security and Assurance
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
    Associate's
      • Associate: Information Technology
      • AASIT: Network Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration, MBA - Technology Management
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science - Cyber Forensics/Information Security
    Associate's
      • Associate of Sciences - Information Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Capella University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • PhD: IT Management (ACBSP-accredited)
      • PhD: IT Project Management
      • PhD - Information Technology
      • DIT - Information Assurance and Security
    Master's
      • MS - Health Care Security
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Information Technology (ABET-accredited)
  • Campus and Online Programs
    10. Rasmussen College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor's - Graphic Design - Web and Interactive Design Specialization
      • Bachelor's - Graphic Design - Animation and Motion Graphics Specialization
      • Bachelor's - Computer Science - AcceleratED
      • Bachelor's - Information Security
    Associate's
      • Associate's - Graphic Design - Web and Interactive Design Specialization
      • Associate's - Graphic Design - Animation and Motion Graphics Specialization
      • Associate's - Web Programming
      • Associate - Software Application Development

Featured Schools

The Art Institutes

  • Master - Computer Animation
  • Bachelor - Visual Effects and Motion Graphics
  • Associate of Applied Science - Web Design and Interactive Media
  • Diploma - 3D Modeling for Animation & Games

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • BS - Simulation and Visualization (Campus)
  • B.S. - Computer Animation
  • B.S. - Game Art

What is your highest level of education?

Southern New Hampshire University

  • MS Information Technology: Database Design Concentration
  • MS Information Technology: Internet Security Concentration
  • BA Graphic Design and Media Arts/ 3-D Modeling & Animation
  • BA in Game Art and Development

What is your highest level of education?

Strayer University

  • M.S. in Information Systems: Software Engineering Management Concentration
  • B.S. in Information Technology: Web Development Technology
  • Associate in Arts in Information Technology

What is your highest level of education completed?

Lincoln Tech

  • Technology and Skilled Trades

What year did you graduate High School / Receive GED?

ECPI University

  • Bachelor's - Cloud Computing
  • Associate's - Network Security

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • MSM in Information Technology
  • BS in Cybersecurity
  • Associate: Information Technology

Which subject are you interested in?

Keiser University

  • Master of Business Administration, MBA - Technology Management
  • Bachelor of Science - Cyber Forensics/Information Security
  • Associate of Sciences - Information Technology

What is your highest level of education?