If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine what kind of message a skilled graphic designer can convey? From websites to magazines to corporate logos, graphic designers can do it all -- but only with the right training. Graphic design programs are meant to give visual artists the opportunity develop both the practical and creative skills they need to succeed in this increasingly high-tech field. Read on to learn more about what it is like to launch a career in graphic design.
Graphic designers create visuals meant to communicate ideas that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov), "inform, inspire or captivate consumers." These images can appear in advertisements, magazines or even corporate reports, in digital or hard-copy form. Some are created by hand, and others with computers equipped with high-tech graphic design software. Graphic designers can work in specialized design, publishing or advertising firms, or in any corporation that needs an in-house design specialists. Whatever the environment, many graphic designing careers are flexible: The BLS reports that in 2012, about a quarter of designers were self-employed, and some graphic designers are even able to telecommute.
When it comes to designers' career prospects, specialties matter. The BLS projects that overall employment of graphic designers will grow by about 7 percent nationally between 2012 and 2022, but that demand can vary tremendously by industry. For instance, employment of designers working in newspapers an books are expected to actually decline during that period; demand for professionals in computer systems design, on the other hand, is expected to grow by 35 percent. The BLS notes that while competition for many positions might be fierce, candidates who are skilled in various types of media -- such as both Web and print publications -- should have an edge.
There are a number of variables that can impact how much you can earn in a graphic designing career, like the scope of your education and professional experience. The BLS reports that national median annual salary for graphic designers was $44,830 as of May 2013. Industries that reported the highest mean wages that year include the federal government, aerospace manufacturing companies, and securities and commodity brokerage firms. Another major factor in earnings is location.
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According to the BLS, the states that paid graphic designers the highest mean wages in 2013 were the District of Columbia, New York and California. While the BLS does not provide education-specific salary information for graphic designers, it does note that, in general, earnings and employment potential both tend to improve with education.
Graphic Designers, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/current/oes271024.htm
Graphic Designers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/graphic-designers.htm