How to Find High-Paying Graphic Design Jobs

Graphic designers are among the highest earning art employees in the country. According to recent reports, graphic design school graduates can earn a median income of $40,000 or more with relatively little work experience. These types of graphic design jobs require a bachelor’s degree, but many schools offer advanced degrees in design as well.

Because graphic designers are in high-demand throughout the country, the best way to earn a high-wage position is to put in a lot of time with a successful design company or to launch a private company. Even so, some experts in the industry state that finding the highest paying graphic design jobs may rely more on location than skill.

According to one report (The Best American Cities for Artists and Designers), there are 25 cities that are prime real estate for those hunting for a graphic design job that pays well. Here are the top 5:

“5. Salt Lake City

Offering better employment conditions than most other large cities, Utah’s biggest city boasts the lowest unemployment rate boosting it right near the top. Many designers are employed here per capita for its growing tech industry. The cost of living in Utah is reasonable and….

4. San Antonio

The second largest city in Texas, San Antonio has one of the most solid salary to cost of living ratios in the country and has seen the lowest change in unemployment rate since the onset of the recession. Its projected job growth is extremely promising and consistently high ……

3. Bridgeport

Bridgeport is a thriving multicultural city located right on the water of Long Island Sound in the southern part of Connecticut. Its great location and proximity to other cities such as New York and Boston make Bridgeport a wonderful city to live ….

2. Newark

Newark, New Jersey is a skip away from New York City, the creative hub of the country. But it is a bargain to live in compared to Manhattan’s cost of living. Newark boasts top pay in the professions of fashion design, graphic design, and art. It has a rich cultural heritage of its own. So if you want to be close to the center of things but can’t quite afford to do it in style, Newark is a great ….

1. Austin

Austin tops our list with robust projected job growth and one of the lowest changes in unemployment rate since the onset of the recession. The city has enjoyed a recent explosion of high-tech entrepreneurism. Animators in Austin are some of the highest paid in the nation. A “best cities” list ….

To read more about these and all 25 cities: The Best American Cities for Artists and Designers


Types of Companies that Hire Graphic Design Graduates

In graphic design schools, students learn how to take an idea and turn it into a visual illustration. So any type of company needing this type of service will hire graphic designers to fulfill the order. Some types of companies (marketing agencies, for example) retain full-time designers who graduated from a college program. Other companies hire graphic designers on a contract-only basis to fulfill a specific work order.

Graphic designers are responsible to nearly all types of media and imagery seen in the world today. From the layout and design of this website to the billboards outside your home or office, a graphic designer was at work to create an image for you to perceive. The job of graphic design graduates is important – they convey the meaning of things with or without words.

Who is Hiring Graphic Designers?

There is no conclusive list of companies that hire graphic designers. Rather, any company or entity that needs graphic work or an artist to convey a specific message or idea is likely to hire a graphic designer. For a more permanent role in the industry, graphic design colleges refer to marketing agencies and design firms as the most stable employers in the industry because they always need graphic designers. But many companies will hire their own, in-house graphic designer. These companies exist in all types of industries.

What Type of Jobs do Graphic Designers Fill?

According to Taylor Loran of Suite101, graphic designers are hired for a wide variety of roles:

“Art Director – Usually manages a team of designers. Is responsible for the creative vision behind the project. Has previously worked as a graphic designer and had a broad range of design software skills, as well as an understanding of production and materials.

Animator – Anything animated, such as flash Web site intros, TV and video openers and closers, DVD menus, etc.

Layout Artist or Desktop Publisher – Usually given text and images to work with. Focuses heavily on the relationship between the text, images and message of the overall piece. Works in a print media focused environment as an in-house designer for a business or in editorial.

Logo Designer – Hand drawn or with a computer, a logo designer creates logos for companies and helps them create a specific and distinguishable brand for their company.

Flash Designer – Flash was previously mentioned under animator, but being a specific flash designer requires more than just creating an intro for a Web site. Flash Web site design requires knowledge of how Web sites should be structured, an understanding of complex Flash design software and knowledge of web design.

Illustrator – Conceptualize and create hand drawn graphics as well as digitally created graphics. Usually contained within the fields of technical illustration for medical textbooks or book publishing, packaging, etc.

Multimedia Designer – Works in the film and TV industries, as well as advertising agencies. Uses audio, video, photographs to create compelling cross platform pieces for viewers and/or readers. Also can create designs for sets, props and costumes.

Web Designer – Focuses on the visual side of the creation of Web sites, although most successful web designers also know how to code Web sites and have a basic understanding of Web site infrastructure.”

Read more: Disciplines Within Graphic Design and What Jobs Are Available


Types of Graphic Designers

Graphic designers are responsible for nearly every image we see in print publications, online media, advertisements, and commercials. Most professionally produced videos and images are born of art created by an expert in graphic design. Graphic designers create logos, posters, product labels, movie and game art, special effects and more. Because the job of graphic designers is so broad and because there are so many types of graphic designs to be created, the jobs for graphic designers are plentiful.

Graphic design can be broken into many categories, but to keep it simple there are four major types of graphic designers. Within these four categories are many more specific types of graphic designers who specialize in certain aspects of design. There are also four basic levels of graphic design that are significant when discussing the types of graphic designers.

Note: Many types of graphic design jobs are filled by a single graphic designer. For companies that use print and digital media to advertise, graphic design employees are often tasked with both roles.

Graphic Design Levels

To truly understand the types of graphic design, it is important to know that there are professional levels within the ‘graphic design’ world. The four levels of graphic design are used to describe the experience, or level of expertise, of a given graphic designer.

#1: Entry-Level Designers are new to the graphic design business. They may be building their portfolio or recent graduates from a graphic design college. Interns with a degree and professionals with little experience are considered ‘entry-level’ graphic designers.

#2: Mid-Level Designers have a bit more experience and have a good portfolio to show for it. Employers trust them with marketing and advertising, logos, and other print or digital media. Mid-level designers are often given creative freedom to help build a company’s brand or public image.

#3: Senior-Level Designers have vast experience in graphic design. As such, they manage other designers beneath their experience level. However, senior-level designers spend much of their time doing the same things that a mid-level designer will do. (They usually get paid a little more for their expertise.)

#4: Art Directors are considered to sit at the top of their profession. These graphic designers are responsible for coordinating the work of all other designers at a company or firm. Art director are usually employed by bigger companies to manage the design and marketing department. Because their role involves much more management, they spend less time actually working on designs.

Types of Graphic Designers

Printed media is anything that will be printed and includes product labels, newspaper and magazine spreads, billboard advertisements, street signs, and other types of print media. In recent years, the jobs for these types of graphic designers have converged or must coordinate with digital media tasks. Print designers must be versatile enough to do both print and digital graphic designs.

Logos, Marketing, and Branding

Marketing and branding is a type of graphic design that is very important to most companies. For this reason, most marketing and branding designers are mid- to senior-level graphic designers. The job of this type of graphic designer is to create advertising and marketing that sets the ‘theme’ of a given company. The consumer will form his or her opinion of a company based on the work done by these designers. Logo design is essential for any business. This is the one thing that will serve as a signature for the company, so a lot of time and effort goes into creating a logo.


Publication designers are responsible for the organization, flow, and aesthetics of printed magazines, newspapers, newsletters, brochures, and other types of print media. (Brochures may also be designed by marketing designers.)


It’s a good bet that nearly all packages in the room with you right now were designed by a graphic designer. From soda bottles to DVD movie covers, a packaging designer is responsible for the graphics printed on the package.

Web Designers and End-User Experience (Digital Design)

While ‘web design’ is an industry in and of itself, many firms and companies will hire a web/graphic designer to handle front-end web designs. These are the types of graphic designers that determine and digitally design the appearance of a web page. All websites have some sort of graphic design involved and most of that work is completed, from scratch, by a graphic designer.

Back-end web design may also be completed by a graphic designer who is good with coding and programming. While design and coding seem to be opposite on the creative spectrum, many successful graphic designers can accomplish both tasks.

Within the realm of ‘web design’ is another type of graphic designer that creates the interactive components of a website. This includes contact forms, surveys, videos, and other media with which the user can interact on a website.


After Graphic Design School: Acing Interviews for Jobs

If you are thinking about a career in graphic design, chances are you are looking at prospective colleges, trying to figure out scholarships and funding, and dreaming big about your future in the world of graphic design. While it is definitely important to ‘know your stuff’ when you head out into the job market, it is equally important to hone your interview skills.

Graphic design jobs don’t come easy, especially for very recent graphic design school graduates. And while you may choose to gain experience as an intern while in school, nothing will prepare you for that first job interview as well as actually going through the interview. Graphic design professionals often have to ‘sell’ themselves many, many times throughout their career. If you plan to be a freelance graphic designer or work for an established firm, you will still have to interview well and sell your ideas for the next contract over and over again.

Here we look at tips from one professional graphic designer who has had much success in landing new clients. Ashley Rundall says that the key to acing that interview is knowing how you are different than the other guys vying for the same job.

“I can still remember my senior year of college… building a portfolio, researching places I dreamed of working and sending countless pleas for an interview. I not only remember how nervous I was, but how clueless and unprepared I was for “a real job.” Now looking back, I wish I had someone to give me more direction on how to get interviews, prepare for them, what to do after interviews and the most important part, how to be good at the interview process. By no means do I have all of the answers, but I do have some useful tips that I would have greatly benefited from… and I hope that you can too.

Interview Basics for Designers

Companies don’t hire portfolios, they hire people. When you interview, you are selling yourself and your ability to produce great work. Your portfolio is the product of you.

Look up the location in advance and be early. If anything is unclear, ask the receptionist for specific driving or parking details prior to the meeting. Never show up late to an interview or cancel without appropriate notice.

Check to see how much time the interviewer has available and pace yourself accordingly.

Hand out your résumé first, during the introductions.

Connect with the interviewer. Ask them about their role, how long they’ve been there, their approach to design, etc.

Remember, excitement is contagious.

You have to “sell yourself” and your ability to do more than just produce great work. Interviewers have to believe in you and be willing to invest in your career.”

Read more at AIGA.

Art Director Ashley Rundall posted the guest blog on AIGA Houston’s site. Her blog is reproduced at and you can read the whole article here.


Graphic Design School Courses: Getting Technical about Art

Students interested in computer simulated and hand-crafted arts often turn to graphic design colleges to help them break into a career doing what they love. Visual communications majors (including web and graphic design) are taught how to take their natural passion for art and turn it into a lucrative career through instruction on all facets of communications. As a technical term, “visual communications” sounds, well – technical. That’s important because graphic designers must learn to be technical about their art – learning how people respond to a work of art, both emotionally and behaviorally.

The graphic design association, AIGA, does a great job of describing the role of a graphic designer:

Suppose you want to announce or sell something, amuse or persuade someone, explain a complicated system or demonstrate a process. In other words, you have a message you want to communicate. How do you “send” it? You could tell people one by one or broadcast by radio or loudspeaker. That’s verbal communication. But if you use any visual medium at all-if you make a poster; type a letter; create a business logo, a magazine ad, or an album cover; even make a computer printout-you are using a form of visual communication called graphic design. (More from AIGA.)

Well-known graphic design college at the Academy of Art describes the plethora of tasks and technical abilities found in a successful graphic designer these days. Graphic design schools typically offer the same lineup of courses, including:

  • Typography
  • Manual Typography
  • Type Typography
  • Web typography
  • Typography History
  • Poster Typography
  • Typography Design
  • Digital Typography
  • Experimental Typography
  • Typography Art
  • Branding
  • Corporate Branding
  • Identity
  • Information design
  • Print and editorial design
  • Packaging
  • Package Design
  • Logo Design
  • Cosmetic Package Design
  • Food Package Design
  • Product Package Design
  • Green Strategies
  • More from Academy of Art

Graphic Design Schools Teach People how to Shape Society’s Perceptions

Graphic designers play a huge role in society. Many successful designers are aware of the impact they have on society. Pierre Bernard of Grapus delivered a speech in the early 1990s about the implications that graphic design work has on the world at large, noting that modern graphic designers (and schools, by proxy) focus on commercial interests. He said:

 “Today, the production of visual communications consists essentially of advertising. Visual productions in advertising are hugely sophisticated and articulated in relation to gigantic mass-media networks. They transcend frontiers and cultural divides. Their basic critique has been developed by the Marxist critic John Berger in Ways of Seeing. He demonstrates that “glamour” is a modern invention in terms of images. It is the expression of the pursuit of individual happiness, considered as a universal right.” (Read Bernard’s entire lecture transcript here.)


Are You Cut Out for Graphic Design School?

Deciding to go to graphic design school is a great choice – if you do it for the right reasons. The truth is: no matter what you choose to do with your life, you should enjoy what it is that you do. Graphic design is art intensive and requires constant attention to details that most people wouldn’t think about. However, graphic design school is all about those details – from how the slightest change in ambient color can affect the mood of an ad to exactly how many ways you can manipulate a photo with Adobe Photoshop. In short, if you don’t enjoy it – you probably won’t stick to it.

What does it mean to be “cut out” for graphic design school? In an interview with’s Nancy Solomon, successful graphic designer Pon Angara said this about his choice to graduate as an engineer and enroll in college again as a graphic design student:

“I’ve always enjoyed creating art pieces that were visually compelling and packed with meaning. In fact, my formal training in fine arts started during my elementary years. My college degrees are in industrial engineering, industrial design and graphic design. My background in art and science became strong assets in my design work.” – Read the whole interview here.

It’s worth noting that Angara also told Solomon, “The more well-rounded your education is, the better. Design is not just about art. It’s about being able to solve a problem. In the real world, problems have multiple sides.”

Back in 2007, Kristy Pennino penned a humorous article outlining how to know that you aren’t cut out for graphic design school. In nearly all of them, she cites a general lack of interest in the core aspects of the profession. You can read them all at Five Signs You Should Not Major in Graphic Design, but as a preview:

“1. You’d rather be surfing Facebook or playing online games during a lecture or presentation or you can’t stop web surfing during class breaks. Let’s face it, it’s not really the teacher’s lecture that has you so bored because you’re bored out of your mind when doing homework for graphics courses as well …” (Read more.)

So, you’ve decided that graphic design school is right for you. What can you do to make sure you get into the school of your choice? does a good job outlining the prep-work with 7 Tips for Getting Into Graphic Design School, starting with:

“1. Have a Versatile, but Focused Portfolio

As a graphic designer it is important to have a versatile Graphic Design portfolio, at least early one. The point of design school is to figure out what area of design you like best, such as web design, magazine design, print design and so on, but when applying it can be better to show a general portfolio. You should always show what you do best, just don’t have all website designs or all magazine spreads. Mix it up and show you are multi-talented and not a one trick design pony!

2. Show Basic Art Skills

When applying to art school its important to have some fine art in your portfolio, even if you are a designer, because it shows you have a solid foundation in art. Drawings are the most common item featured in graphic design portfolios, followed by paintings. Just make sure they are actually good drawings and paintings and don’t add too many. Remember design is what you are there for, but its good to show you have solid basic art skills….” Read all 7 Tips here.


Getting Ready for Graphic Design School: Tips from the Pros

Preparing for graphic design school might make students think of college applications, financial aid forms, and choosing which school to attend. As it turns out, there is a lot more that you can (and perhaps should) do to prepare for a successful start at the graphic design school of your choice while also increasing your chances of being accepted by the school you want to attend.

A recent article by points out some important considerations for students interested in a career in graphic design. This article names seven ways in which students can prepare for graphic design school so that the student stands out among hundreds or thousands of other applicants, including:

1. Have a Versatile, but Focused Portfolio – As a graphic designer it is important to have a versatile Graphic Design portfolio…

2. Show Basic Art Skills – When applying to art school its important to have some fine art in your portfolio, even if you are a designer, because it shows you have a solid foundation in art…

3. Practice Your Interviewing – Practicing your interviewing skills can go a long way…

4. Dress Appropriately – You may be a free spirit, but you should dress properly for your interview…

5. Know Your Projects – Nothing is worse than not being able to talk about your projects…

6. Have Goals – This may seem silly, but surprisingly a lot of people have no long or short term goals in life…

7. Learn About the School and Program – Applying to a school you know nothing about is an easy way to push yourself into a trap…

(Read more about all 7 tips over at YouTheDesigner)

Let’s Look at Step 6

While preparing for entry into a graphic design school is important, it is just as important to prepare yourself for success once you’ve achieved the first goal. Just like step 6 above, you’ll need new goals once you’ve reached your school.

On this thought, Naldz Design steps out 12 ways to become a successful graphic designer (starting with joining a graphic design school). Among the twelve steps, they’ve listed some interesting points that apply to all types of schools and career oriented education programs.

#2 Know what you’re good at, but be flexible:
“Most graphic designers specialize in a certain field, like magazine designing, logo designing and others. You may practice that field but still you have to make sure that you are well rounded. It is important for designers to know everything pertaining to design.”

#4 Work starts during graphic design school:
“Attend seminars and join organizations related to design while in school. This is a good experience in handling different situations and this will also develop your leadership skills. Take advantage of field trips and seminars where you can learn a lot.”

Read all 12: Getting Yourself Ready for a Graphic Design Career

 More Reading:

15 Graphic Design Interview Tips

A-Z Degrees: Graphic Design (UK)


Your Graphic Design School Portfolio

A portfolio of all of the designs you have created during your time in graphic design school is one of the most important items you will have when you graduate college. Second to a degree, the portfolio will show future employers and clients the kind of work they can expect from you and the level of your expertise in the art of graphic design.

For this reason, many graphic design schools use the student portfolio as an important part of the grading process and many consider a student’s portfolio to weigh heavily in determining the overall score that student will receive. So what goes into a student’s portfolio in graphic design school and why is it so important?

According to, there are five not-so-secret ingredients when formulating the perfect graphic design portfolio:

It’s always GDB’s top priority to bring helpful tips and resources for aspiring Graphic Designers. Therefore, before you start getting inspired with “38 Impressive Designer Portfolios” from net, I would like you all to know “5 must-have” features of an ideal portfolio.

Logo: An exclusive portfolio helps us to promote our self as a brand, therefore it is important to have a dependable logo. First thing a visitor checks on your portfolio is a logo and it should be catchy to tempt the user to check your complete portfolio.

Tagline: Your tagline should well define your services and creative abilities. It should be short, snappy and summarize about your goals. Your tagline should be catchy enough, to change an ordinary user into a potential customer.

Services: This feature of your portfolio should be detailed and well explained. This is the feature where you get to explain your area of expertise like web design, development, video, copywriting, branding, etc.

Blog: We all know blog is always a casual and successful way of sharing your creative thoughts with your visitors. It helps to promote you and prevent your website from lying static. It allows people to search you on different social networks and drop comments about your portfolio.

About Me: To cut the long story short, a portfolio is all “About Me” Share your family background, education and interests with people. The more details you give, the better a bond of trust is created between you and your users.

Apart all these listed features, just remember that an online design portfolio should be easy to use, should be clearly sectioned and simple in design to allow your design artwork to shine.

Anyways, now without squandering any more time, let’s start with the tour… 38 examples of most exclusive portfolios have been put together here for your inspiration.

You can read more about portfolios from and view 38 of their favorite portfolio designs here.

Read more about designing a portfolio from graphic design school:

Portfolio Center

Preparing Your Portfolio for College Admissions

12 Steps to a Super Graphic Design Portfolio


Two Ways to Become a High-Paid Graphic Designer

There are few self-taught graphic designers, so most people rely on a quality program at an accredited graphic design school to learn the skills of the trade. By utilizing the resources available at a college or training program near you, there are two ways to become a high-paid graphic designer: through a long-term commitment to education or through a long-term commitment to work.

In essence, students have the choice of becoming a successful and well-paid graphic designer through an advanced graduate program at a graphic design college or by completing an undergraduate program and working their way to a higher-paying job. Both methods are feasible ways to earn a great income in the field of graphic design and each carries its own set of benefits and sacrifices.

Regardless of the path a graphic design student takes, the traits of a graphic designer remain the same. Successful graphic design school students and professionals are creative individuals with artistic talent. They are able to take an idea or emotion and translate it into a visual retelling that motivates buyers, motivates a person to pick up a magazine, call a phone number, or simply click on a banner ad on the internet.

Graphic design schools, regardless of the level of the degree program, will arm students with the skills they need to work toward their personal and career goals. It is important for graphic designers to remain flexible because the industry and the standards in the profession can change rapidly. Graphic designers for print publications must be ready to take on the role of an online graphic designer. Likewise, graphic designers who specialize in online publications need to be always ready to take on a billboard or store advertising challenge.

The success of a professional graphic designer hinges on his or her ability to take a larger portion of the graphic design industries client-base. However, many graphic designers find great success by focusing on a niche within their profession, provided that there is little competition or that the designer has proven himself worthy of higher-paying jobs or contracts. Graphic design schools prepare students to face these types of challenges and decisions with confidence.

Become a Graphic Design through Long-Term Education vs. Long-Term Work

A long-term commitment to education at a graphic design school can expedite the student’s efforts to find a high-paying job immediately following graduation. By spending less time in the job market, however, the student loses work-experience opportunities. Some internships can help offset this sacrifice, however, and those with a higher degree from an accredited graphic design school often find it easier to land a higher paying job.

Long-term commitments to building a reputation as a graphic designer can help students graduating with a lesser degree earn more money over the long-run. While students who choose this route earn less money immediately following graduation from a graphic design school, they spend more time in the job market making connections and earning higher rate.


How to Become an Advertising Graphic Designer

Graphic design schools are a great place to learn the art of advertising as it relates to graphic design. Nearly every piece of advertising we see on the internet, in the mailbox, at a retail outlet, on the television, and on billboards was created by a graphic design school graduate. It is a lucrative market that is highly competitive, but obtainable for students who complete an advanced graphic design program that specializes in advertising.

The U.S. Department of Labor and Statistics estimates that there were nearly 300,000 graphic designers working in the U.S. in 2008. This number is likely well over 300,000 by now. They also estimate that the job market will continue to grow through the rest of the decade, but that there will be keen competition among employees.

Although it is a competitive market, there are ways to make it easier to become a graphic designer that specializes in marketing; especially if he or she intends to become an online marketing graphic designer. The BLS says that those with specialized training in animation and web design have the best chances of landing a high paying job. But at minimum, hiring companies typically look for a graphic design school graduate who has earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic design.

A bachelor’s degree program at a graphic design school typically incorporates print and advertising classes into the program’s curriculum. These classes are designed to teach graphic design students the principles and theories behind the graphic advertising profession and build confidence in their ability to apply what they’ve learned in a real-world market.

After completing a bachelor’s program at a graphic design school, graduates will be able to develop and clearly present graphic design solution to a client. This is a key principle in advertising, where pitching ideas is the common method of getting a contract for an advertising campaign. Research and analyzing a graphic design project for a marketing campaign is another core function of the graphic designer specializing in marketing and advertising, so many of a programs classes will be geared toward fine-tuning these skill sets.

The remaining classes in an advertising focused graphic design program will revolve around the art of graphic design; without which the other classes are unimportant. Therefore, schools include heavy art studies in the curriculum.

Art studies in a graphic design school include drawing skills that help with items such as logo development, communication of ideas, portfolio development according to the industry’s standards, typography and using type sets and fonts to influence emotion and behavior, and colors and composition classes. Colors and compositions will enable graphic design students to balance colors and designs within a graphic design concept as well as using layout and flow to influence the end user or viewer.