Becoming a Digital Designer: Salary Information & Job Description

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

Digital designers convey messages using visually stimulating graphics. Take a look at the pros and cons of this design career to decide if it's the right career choice for you.

Pros of a Digital Designer Career
Salary may include bonuses**
Freelance work may be available*
Work available for many different mediums*
College programs are widely available*
Opportunity to advance in the field*

Cons of a Digital Designer Career
Competition for high-level jobs is strong*
Self-employed designers must find their own work*
Juggling multiple projects and meeting deadlines can be stressful*
Job is dependent on technology and software that is ever-changing*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and **PayScale.com

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Digital designers combine creativity, artistic talents and technology to produce a variety of media. They may create websites, animations, advertising or other forms of communication. They are sometimes labeled as graphic designers. In general, however, digital designers focus less on print work than graphic designers.

Your job duties will begin with research and meeting with clients to get a grasp on the message they are trying to convey. You may also develop projects from conceptualization to final production, including producing sketches and using computer software to draw, animate or lay out your project.

Popular Career Options

There are many avenues to travel within the scope of digital design. Popular avenues include video game design and animation, software design, video production and Web design. Digital designers also create concrete materials, including movie sets, trade show booths and marketing materials.

You may be employed with an advertising or marketing firm, work at a design agency or use your skills in computer systems and designs. Many digital designers work as freelancers and work with clients on a project basis.

Job Prospects and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that the demand for all workers in the field of graphic design would increase by 7% between 2012 and 2022. According to PayScale.com, most digital designers earned between $30,000 and $84,000 in July 2015, which included bonuses. Having web design as a skill positively impacted the salaries of digital designers.

What Are the Requirements?

A bachelor's degree is usually required for entry into this field. Digital design programs, such as the Bachelor of Arts in Digital Design, generally include coursework in color theory, design software, typography, motion design and visual narration. At some schools, you may be able to major in another field, such as communication or graphic design, and emphasize digital design using elective hours. You can also find certificate programs in digital design that can compliment an existing degree from another field.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Although a bachelor's degree is a common requirement, employers may also look for digital design candidates with experience from related areas. The following Monster.com postings below are just a sampling of available jobs from actual employers. Take a look to see what requirements and characteristics were in demand in March 2012.

  • In Chicago, a freelance digital designer is needed to create strong digital campaigns. Candidates must have a deep knowledge of interactive platforms and be able to work on their own.
  • In Virginia, a digital designer is needed on a contract basis in the computer software/IT industry. Candidates must have at least four years of experience in Web design and be able to obtain a Public Trust Clearance.
  • A Washington technology company seeks a digital visual designer to produce graphics and animations for games and websites on a contract basis. Candidates must have at least a bachelor's degree, one or more years of experience and an eye for detail.
  • In Colorado, a lead digital designer with commercial experience is sought. Candidates must be able to meet brand requirements, use a variety of software and manage others. Applicants need a bachelor's degree and six or more years of experience.

How Can I Stand Out?

One way to stand out is to compile a portfolio of your best work. You may build a digital portfolio or produce physical copies of your work. Your portfolio will demonstrate experience to your employer and showcase your capabilities.

Develop Related Skills

In the field of digital design, you'll collaborate with clients, copyeditors, senior staff and other designers. Developing strong communication and creativity skills can help you stand out to employers. You can develop these skills, as well as gain professional experience, by taking elective courses and pursuing internship opportunities in digital design.

Gain Software Training

Since technology will be your main mode of production, you can stand out in your field by having an in-depth and varied knowledge of software platforms. Although Adobe Suite is commonly used, each industry is likely to have its own software requirements.

Software proficiency may be gained through formal education, previous experience or independent exploration. You may also consider the Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) or Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) credentials to demonstrate your knowledge of various types of digital design.

Alternative Career Paths

Software Development

If you're drawn to the technological aspects of digital design, you may enjoy work as a software developer. In this field you'll develop applications and platforms that allow specific activity on computers and other devices. The employment growth in this field is expected to grow at a rate of 30%, more than twice the average for all careers, between 2010 and 2020. You'll need a bachelor's degree and strong computer skills to enter this field.

Advertising

If your strength is conveying persuasive messages, you may want to pursue a career in advertising. In this field, you'll develop plans to promote products, companies and ideas. You may perform research, create layouts and build brands. Entry into this field usually requires a bachelor's degree in advertising or marketing. Earnings in this field are higher than average, which the BLS noted was an average of $104,000 in 2011.

Creative Director

You can also apply your creative skills as a creative director. Workers in this field oversee the layout and graphics used in publishing, marketing and other industries. You'll need skills similar to those of a digital designer, including the ability to visually represent important ideas and creative thinking. Generally, creative directors oversee others and need a four-year degree and experience. The BLS reported that the average salary for all art directors was $96,000 in 2011, which means you could be able to earn more with the same amount of training.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. ECPI University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate's - Network Security
      • Associate's - Network Security
    Certificate
      • Web Design & Dev
      • Web Design & Dev
  • Campus and Online Programs
    2. The Art Institutes

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Design & Media Management (MA)
      • Computer Animation (MFA)
    Bachelor's
      • Graphic & Web Design (BFA)
      • Graphic & Web Design (BS)
      • Graphic & Web Design: Graphic Design (BFA)
      • Graphic & Web Design: Web Design (BFA)
      • Web Design & Interactive Media (BFA)
      • Web Design & Interactive Media (BS)
    Associate's
      • Graphic & Web Design (AAS)
      • Web Design & Interactive Media (AAS)
      • Web Design & Interactive Media (AS)
      • Graphic & Web Design (AA)
      • Graphic & Web Design: Graphic Design (AA)
      • Graphic & Web Design: Web Design (AA)
    Certificate
      • Web Design & Interactive Communications (C)
    High School Diploma
      • Digital Design (D)
      • Web Design & Development (D)
      • Web Design & Interactive Communications (D)
      • Web Design (D)
  • Online Programs Available
    3. 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
      • BBA: New Media and Internet Marketing
      • BS in Cybersecurity
      • BSIT - Information Management
      • 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
    4. Purdue University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Education in Learning Design and Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Lewis University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Computer Science
      • MS in Computer Science - Intelligent Systems
      • MS in Data Science - Computer Science
      • MS in Computer Science - Cyber Security
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Baker College Online

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Information Systems - MSIS (Master's)
      • Leadership Studies - MBA (Master's)
      • Cloud Security Risk Management - MBA (Master's)
      • Cloud Security Risk Management - MSIS (Master's)
    Bachelor's
      • Game Software Development - Bachelor
      • Information Technology and Security - Bachelor
    Associate's
      • Information Technology - Associate
  • Campus and Online Programs
    8. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Digital Arts and Design
      • BS - Cloud Technologies (Campus)
      • B.S. - Web Design and Development
      • B.S. - Game Design
      • B.S. - Computer Animation
      • B.S. - Game Art
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Bridge to the M.S. in Information Technology Management
      • M.S. in Information Technology Management
      • M.S. in Instructional Technology
      • Master of Science in Cyber Security
      • Master of Science in Cyber Security (Bridge)
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Computer Programming
      • B.S. in Information Technology
      • B.S. in Information Technology with an Emphasis in Cybersecurity
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • PhD-TIM - Computer Science
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • PhD in Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Computer and Information Security
      • PhD in Business Admin - Computer and Information Security
      • PhD-TIM - Cybersecurity
    Master's
      • MSTIM - Computer Science
      • MBA - Computer and Information Security
      • MBA - Applied Computer Science
      • MSTIM - Cybersecurity
      • MSTIM - Information Systems

Featured Schools

ECPI University

  • Associate's - Network Security
  • Web Design & Dev

What is your highest level of education?

The Art Institutes

  • Design & Media Management (MA)
  • Graphic & Web Design (BFA)
  • Graphic & Web Design (AAS)
  • Web Design & Interactive Communications (C)
  • Digital Design (D)

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • MSM in Information Technology
  • BBA: New Media and Internet Marketing
  • Associate: Information Technology

Which subject are you interested in?

Purdue University

  • Master of Science in Education in Learning Design and Technology

What is your highest level of education?

Lewis University

  • MS in Computer Science
  • MS in Computer Science - Intelligent Systems
  • MS in Data Science - Computer Science

What is your highest level of education?

Georgetown University

  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

Baker College Online

  • Information Systems - MSIS (Master's)
  • Game Software Development - Bachelor
  • Information Technology - Associate

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • B.S. - Digital Arts and Design
  • BS - Cloud Technologies (Campus)
  • B.S. - Web Design and Development

What is your highest level of education?