Graphic Design Specialists


career resources for Graphic Design Specialists


What’s Needed:

  • Many firms don’t require graphic design specialists to hold a degree instead emphasizing a portfolio of your completed works when making a hiring decision.
  • An associate or bachelor degree in graphic design can widen your employment possibilities particular for entry level positions with established firms by demonstrating your interest and competence in the field.

What you study:

When completing a graphic design degree you are likely to study all of the following:

  • Principles of Design
  • Color Theory and Design
  • Computer Illustration
  • Vector Illustration
  • Typeography
  • Digital Photography

What courses you’ll take

Below are examples of courses that you’ll likely take as a graphic design student readying yourself to enter the field as a specialist.

Design and LayoutCore concepts and terminology used in graphic design such as integrating color schemes typography (fonts and typefaces) and overall messaging; foundational skills in industry standard computer programs; principles of professionalism in graphic design.Familiarize students with the structure and principles of graphic design.
Digital Image EditingCreating and manipulating visual images in common digital file formats; scanning and importing images; setting proper color profiles and resolution; editing and cleaning up images in software such as Adobe Photoshop; publishing images on the web.Introduce necessary skills for professional editing of digital images.
Digital IllustrationProper drawing technique; artistic styles of illustration; creating and editing digital vector graphics (images composed of points lines and curves rather than of pixel grids) in programs such as Adobe Illustrator; drafting and assembling complex shapes and designs.Prepare students to create and manipulate vector-based graphics.
TypographyHistory and theory of fonts and typefaces; anatomy and classification of typefaces and families; selecting typefaces that reflect the style and message of a design project; assessing and resolving issues with clarity and readability.Ready students to choose proper typefaces and use them correctly in designs.
Branding Packaging and MessagingAssembling design elements color schemes and typography into visual images the convey the feel and message of a particular brand; logo design; effective promotional graphics; unifying a brand’s packaging across web print and other visual platforms.Enable students to utilize all their graphic design skills in the development of a visual brand.

Certifications and Licensing

While no special certification is needed to work as a graphic design specialist most professionals in this field do complete training in specialized computer programs that are used in graphic design. Many design specialists pursue certification from Adobe the company that makes the widely used Adobe Creative Suite.

Job Flexibility

Full-time versus part-time:

Graphic design specialists can work either part- or full-time schedules. Many experienced designers are allowed to set their own schedules so long as they complete projects within an agreed-upon timeframe. Freelance designers have total freedom to set their own work hours.

Work location:

Most graphic designers have the freedom to work from a home office or other off-site location for at least part of their workweek. Those individuals who work for themselves as freelance designers have total freedom in regards to their worksite.

Recommended Websites

  • U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook for Graphic Designers: The Bureau of Labor Statistics website provides information about the career outlook salary prospects and employment trends for graphic design specialists. The majority of the information on the website is based on statistical data. Individuals who are interested in becoming graphic designers should also visit sites with more qualitative data.
  • Graphic Artists Guild: The Graphic Artists Guild website provides a wide variety of resources for graphic design specialists. They offer information about pricing graphic design work interfacing with clients and developing professional skills. This website is suitable for both beginning and experienced professionals in this field.
  • American Institute of Graphic Arts: The AIGA website provides a job board and information about contests and competitions in the field of graphic arts. This website also has excellent resources for individuals who are interested in pursuing graphic arts training or furthering their skills in the field.

Salaries by City

See typical salaries and ranges for this career below*. Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.

StateCity / RegionTypical SalarySalary RangeJob Count% of All Jobs
AKAnchorage$54750$32K – $89K1700.10%
ALAuburn – Opelika$36520$31K – $46K400.08%
ALBirmingham – Hoover$46760$27K – $72K4400.09%
ALDecatur$35360$28K – $44K300.07%
ALDothan$35640$25K – $46K400.08%
ALFlorence – Muscle Shoals$29520$18K – $48K300.07%
ALHuntsville$44350$29K – $73K2800.14%
ALMobile$32690$21K – $54K900.05%
ALMontgomery$38750$26K – $61K1700.11%
ALTuscaloosa$39170$22K – $52K700.07%
ARFayetteville – Springdale – Rogers$30620$22K – $60K2600.13%
ARFort Smith$29410$21K – $58K700.06%
ARLittle Rock – North Little Rock – Conway$36820$26K – $56K3700.11%
AZFlagstaff$42310$33K – $58KN/AN/A
AZLake Havasu City $ Kingman$34460$27K – $48K300.08%
AZPhoenix – Mesa – Glendale$42250$30K – $64K26900.16%
AZPrescott$28840$18K – $45K800.16%
AZTucson$35230$24K – $57K4400.13%
CABakersfield – Delano$42570$24K – $89K1800.06%
CAChico$35960$25K – $56K