Digital Graphic Designer Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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A graphic designer's average salary is around $50,000 a year. Is this salary worth the professional training, college requirements and artistic insight you need to succeed? See real career prospects to find out if becoming a digital graphic designer is the right profession for you.
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A Digital Graphic Designer Career: Pros and Cons

Digital graphic designers complete client-based work on deadline. For more on the pros and cons of the field to find out if it's the right fit for you, read below.

Pros of Being a Digital Graphic Designer
Use your creativity for art and media*
Comfortable work environments*
Freelance opportunities*
Expected job growth of 7% from 2012-2022*

Cons of Being a Digital Graphic Designer
Must be knowledgeable of the latest digital technology to remain competitive*
Deadlines may be stressful*
Keen competition in the field*
4-year education and experience required for most positions*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Job Description

Digital graphic designers work to produce interactive or multimedia projects and web pages to communicate a message for advertising or marketing purposes. A digital graphic designer plans the outline, structure and visualization of a design, such as web pages or animations, with the use of creative software, such as Adobe Creative Suite. When creating a layout or design, designers must consider type, images, animations, color and placement. Skills and equipment ranging from digital photography to video graphics are needed for the job in order to meet client or personal artistic needs.

A graphic designer's employment situation may vary. For example, you could work independently from your home or office and freelance your work to clients. You may also be a team member in a graphic designing department at an advertising or consulting agency.

Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that most graphic designers made from $27,100-$80,570 in May 2014 (www.bls.gov). The field you work in may affect your pay. For example, digital graphic designers who create graphics in computer systems designs earned an annual average salary of about $60,000, while newspaper and periodical designers averaged about $45,000. Additionally, graphic designers skilled in website design and animation will have the best prospects for jobs, because advertising firms are trying to compensate for the growing web presence in sales and marketing.

Education and Training Requirements

To gain most graphic design jobs, you're required to hold a bachelor's degree and experience. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) may accredit bachelor's programs. Bachelor's degree programs explore technical drawing, as well as typography design and layout, digital image manipulation and color theory. Hands-on training through internships and studios is also helpful. The BLS claims that holding a BFA or higher with a concentration in digital media is one of best ways to market your skills.

Useful skills

The AIGA (formerly the American Institute of Graphic Arts) states that all graphic artists should be imaginative, entrepreneurial and culturally-savvy. Often, this visual form of communication can bridge cultural gaps by tapping into human emotions and can help spread new ideas to shift public perception or consumption patterns. Having the ability to know new trends in culture or marketing may help you craft effective graphic art. Additional skills that can help you advance in the field include:

  • Knowledge of design tools
  • Media production and communication skills
  • Expertise in graphic design and web applications
  • Knowledge of marketing, sales and customer service

What do Employers Want?

There are many different skills an employer may desire in a job applicant applying for a position as a digital graphic designer. Below are some examples of job postings in February 2012:

  • An Atlanta, GA, company is looking for a digital graphic designer to refine design projects. The candidate must possess a bachelor's degree and 6-8 years of experience.
  • A Springfield, VA, moving company needs a digital graphic designer to create printed materials, like brochures, and manage social media websites. The preferred candidate can work in both MAC and PC environments, as well as possesses a bachelor's degree and three years of experience.
  • A Wilmington, OH, medical equipment company is looking for a graphic designer with digital media experience to produce videos and flash-based websites. The designer must be skilled in programming languages and electronic media.

How to Stand Out in the Field

To maximize your potential as a digital graphic designer, you may want to consider competing in competitions or graphic design events. AIGA offers several events and competitions that will help you to network with other designers and employers, as well as build a portfolio.

Build a Portfolio

Having an updated portfolio is necessary in the design world. Your portfolio is your creative resume for potential employers to get a feel for the designs you can create. In most cases, your portfolio may be what makes for breaks an interview. Additionally, some associations, like AIGA, hold seminars or conferences in which you can get your portfolio reviewed by professionals in the field. Portfolio reviews can provide you with insight into where your portfolio is lacking and provide you with tips on how to land your next full-time or freelance position.

Other Careers to Consider

Fine Artist

If you like to create artistic pieces, but aren't really a designer, you could become an artist. Artists typically work within a specific medium, such as paint, sculpture or illustration. Fine artists typically don't have specific education requirements; however, advancement in the field is difficult without some form of formal training. Wage data from the BLS showed that the average annual salary for a fine artist was around $53,000 as of May 2010.

Photographer

If you like working with images, but aren't keen on design, you could become a photographer. Photography offers several specialties, such as portrait photography or commercial photography. Depending on your specialty, you may require a formal education, such as a bachelor's degree in photography. Degree programs provide you with knowledge of camera usage, lighting, manipulation software and film developing. The BLS calculated that the average annual salary for photographers as of May 2010 was about $36,000.

Popular Schools

  • Campus and Online Programs
    1. The Art Institutes

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Design & Media Management (MA)
      • Visual Arts (MFA)
      • Computer Animation (MFA)
      • Interior Design (MFA)
    Bachelor's
      • Design & Technical Graphics (BS)
      • Graphic & Web Design (BFA)
      • Graphic & Web Design (BS)
      • Graphic & Web Design: Graphic Design (BFA)
      • Graphic & Web Design: Web Design (BFA)
      • Graphic Design (BFA)
    Associate's
      • Graphic & Web Design (AAS)
      • Graphic Design (AAS)
      • Graphic Design (AS)
      • Graphic & Web Design (AA)
      • Graphic & Web Design: Graphic Design (AA)
      • Graphic & Web Design: Web Design (AA)
    Certificate
      • Digital Image Management (C)
      • Residential Interiors (C)
    High School Diploma
      • Digital Design (D)
      • Digital Image Management (D)
      • Residential Interiors (D)
  • Campus and Online Programs
    2. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. - New Media Journalism
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Digital Arts and Design
      • BS - Simulation and Visualization (Campus)
      • BS - Game Design (Campus)
      • B.S. - Graphic Design
      • B.S. - Game Design
      • B.S. - Computer Animation
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology
  • Philadelphia, PA

    University of Pennsylvania

  • Online Programs Available
    5. Baker College Online

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Game Software Development - Bachelor
  • Campus Locations:
    6. CDI College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Diploma in 3D Modeling Animation & Design (Conception, Modlisation et Animation 3D - NTL.0Z)
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Penn Foster Career School

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Career Diploma: Computer Graphic Artist
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
      • HS Diploma
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. Digital Communication
      • B.S. General Studies - Fine Arts
    Associate's
      • A.S. General Studies - Fine Arts

Featured Schools

The Art Institutes

  • Design & Media Management (MA)
  • Design & Technical Graphics (BS)
  • Graphic & Web Design (AAS)
  • Digital Image Management (C)
  • Digital Design (D)

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • M.S. - New Media Journalism
  • B.S. - Digital Arts and Design
  • BS - Simulation and Visualization (Campus)

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

  • Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology

What is your highest level of education completed?

Baker College Online

  • Game Software Development - Bachelor

What is your highest level of education?

CDI College

  • Diploma in 3D Modeling Animation & Design (Conception, Modlisation et Animation 3D - NTL.0Z)

What year did you graduate high school?

Penn Foster Career School

  • Career Diploma: Computer Graphic Artist

What is your highest level of education?

Penn Foster High School

  • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
  • HS Diploma

What is your age?