How to Become a Graphic Designer

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Contributor, Benzinga
Updated: November 29, 2021

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Want a career that allows you to unleash your inner creativity each day? Graphic design may be the perfect fit. You’ll have the flexibility to work in several industries as a freelancer or as the boss of your own boutique digital media or marketing firm. 

Check out Benzinga’s expert insight to becoming a graphic designer. 

Graphic Designer Overview

It’s important to know what graphic designers do and the education requirements that must be met when deciding if the career path is ideal. Also, be mindful of the earning potential and job outlook for the industry.  

We’ll show you how to make it happen. 

Job Description

Graphic designers create digital masterpieces that garner consumer attention. In this role, you collaborate with art directors to iron out details of upcoming projects and create designs and visual elements with layout and photo editing software. You will also share proposed designs for advertisements, brochures, magazines and reports with both art directors and clients, solicit feedback and make suggested changes before publishing the final product. 

Prefer to teach graphic design? Work as a postsecondary teacher at a college, university or design school. Or you can become an experiential graphic designer and develop interactive design environments like music and public art exhibits or retail spaces. 

If you’re employed by an organization, expect to work in an office setting alongside other designers or advertising and marketing specialists. Self-employed graphic designers often work from the comfort of their own home or at the client’s office. 

The top employers of graphic designers are in these industries:

  • Advertising and public relations 
  • Book, directory, newspaper and periodical publishers 
  • Printing 
  • Specialized design services 

Salary Information

The median annual wage for graphic designers is around $52,110, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Here’s how it breaks down by the top industries: 

  • Advertising and public relations: $54,320
  • Book, directory, newspaper and periodical publishers: $43,950
  • Printing: $41,290
  • Specialized design services: $54,150 

Education Requirements

Some employers require a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a similar discipline. However, an associate’s degree or technical training may suffice. 

Job Outlook

The demand for graphic designers is slated to increase by 3% through 2028, notes BLS.gov

Tips Becoming a Graphic Designer 

Keep these tips in mind as you work toward becoming a graphic designer. 

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

When evaluating programs, look for options that are accredited and reputable. The school should also boast a high job placement rate for recent graphic design graduates. 

Another factor to be mindful of is the cost of attendance. The college or university you’re considering should feature tuition and fee rates comparable to others with similar offerings. 

Get Hands-On Experience 

Most graphic design degree programs extend opportunities for students to get hands-on experiences. Expect to complete projects that will be critiqued by your peers and instructors. You will also begin building a portfolio that can be used to demonstrate your expertise to future employers. 

Planning to work as a freelance graphic design? Consider taking on pro bono projects to sharpen your skills and acquire the experience you need in the field. 

Acquire a Certification

Seek out a graphic design certification to stand out among other job seekers. Certification programs can usually be completed in a fraction of the time required to earn a bachelor’s degree and you’ll save thousands in tuition and fees. 

Sharpen Your Skills with an Online Course 

Whether you’re just getting started with graphic design or have some experience, an online course can help you get to the next level. Options are available for all skill levels at a fraction of what you’ll pay for a 2- or 4-year degree program. 

Best Universities for Becoming a Graphic Designer

These online graphic design degree programs will help you prepare for 

Coursera
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1. Coursera

Coursera can help you explore a career in graphic design. The online learning platform provides some free graphic design courses, and it offers a plethora fee-based classes, certificate programs and degree options.

You'll find learning options from respected institutions, including California Institute of the Arts, Michigan State University and the University of Tokyo.

Choose from general graphic design overviews to the details of typography and even instruction on how to create a website in just a weekend. Learn more about what Coursera offers now.

2. Savannah College of Art and Design

Consider the Savannah College of Art and Design to earn your degree. The school offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design that equips students with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in your career. The curriculum fuses modern technology and entrepreneurship with user-centered and product design. You will also learn the mechanics of graphic design entrepreneurship, media management, visualization, interface design, typography and so much more. 

3. Southern New Hampshire University 

Southern New Hampshire University offers an online Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design. Students complete core courses on many topics, like digital graphic design for web, digital imaging, desktop publishing, color theory, print media, typography and more.  You can also enhance your degree by specializing in 3D Modeling and Animation or Web Design. 

Supplement what you’re learning in the classroom with these online courses. They also give you a sneak peek into the graphic design world so you’ll know what to expect when you enter the workforce. 

Udemy
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1. Become a Professional Graphic Designer 

Want to learn more about what graphic designers do and how to position yourself for success in the field? Look no further than this highly-rated course from Udemy. 

Become a Professional Graphic Designer is presented by Stone River eLearning and covers visual communication fundamentals, layouts, resizing and cropping, web layouts, graphic formatting and more. You will also learn how to leverage Adobe Acrobat, Dreamweaver, Indesign, Illustrator and Photoshop to create compelling designs. 

It’s only $34.99 to enroll. Register today for instant access to 20.5 hours of on-demand video and 4 downloadable resources. You’ll also receive a certificate of completion when you reach the finish line. 

Udemy
Best For
  • Short Courses
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2. How to Become a ROCKSTAR Graphic Designer

Just $29.99 gets you a seat in this introductory course that will take you from novice to experienced graphic designer in record time. It’s ideal for newbies who want to level up their skills. 

“How to Become a ROCKSTAR Graphic Designer” is led by celebrity graphic designer Casey Diggs. It includes the following lectures: 

  • How to Go From Being a Freelance Graphic Designer to a Brand 
  • How to Cut Out a Photo in Photoshop
  • How to Create a Flyer Design in Photoshop
  • How to Turn a Photo Into a Cartoon
  • How to Make a Half-Human Half Animal Face
  • How to Price Your Graphic Design Services 

The enrollment fee unlocks 2.5 hours of on-demand video lectures and 1 article. Plus, the class comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can enroll with confidence. 

Prepare for a Career as a Graphic Designer

Ready to take the first step toward becoming a graphic designer? Check out our top recommendations for online degree programs and courses. Evaluate your options and make a decision that’s most suitable for you.

Southern New Hampshire University Online

SNHU Online Offers:

  1. Flexible schedules
  2. Affordable tuition
  3. Online tutoring
  4. Access to electronic research materials
  5. Specialized academic advising
  6. Supportive online community

Learn more at SNHU.