Careers in Graphic Design

Graphic designers create communication pieces including advertisements, brochures, logos and identity systems, newsletters, stationery, catalogs, sign systems, web pages, magazines and books. Graphic designers work with words and images, including photography, traditional and computer illustrations as well as typographic illustrations.

What will I do on the job?

The graphic designer’s job involves the application of art, technical and communication skills to the needs of business and industry. A graphic designer organizes type, layout and images for the purpose of communication, usually to motivate or inform an audience. A designer has input at the beginning of a project, brainstorming and presenting ideas. The design may originate in the print medium, but often must also work successfully in web and video. In addition to design skills, the designer often works closely with illustrators and photographers. The entry-level position is often a junior designer. A junior designer typically follows the design direction of a senior designer and may be responsible for many of the production details.

What skills will I use on the job?

An entry-level designer will use the most current versions of page layout and editing software, such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop and QuarkXPress. A designer utilizes the step-by-step process of design development, relying heavily on knowledge of color theory, layout, illustration, photography, typography, and computer skills. A designer will be expected to understand design from a historical perspective. Teamwork, written and oral communication skills, organization, adaptability and reliability are highly regarded assets. An entry-level designer often participates in the design of advertisements, forms, logos, brochures, t-shirts, pamphlets, magazines and newsletters. In addition, the designer may be asked to create design work to be applied in areas beyond print, such as television, video and web.

Who will hire me?

Design firms, advertising and marketing firms, multimedia and software companies, nonprofit and government agencies, and publishing houses hire graphic designers. Also, positions exist for in-house corporate graphic designers. Graduates have found work with employers such as Tektronix, Port of Portland, Freightliner, The Oregonian, Willamette Week, Hillsboro Argus, the University of Oregon Medical Center, Dark Horse Comics, Nautilus, Dove Lewis Animal Clinic, Fred Meyer and several television stations. There’s also a market for freelance graphic designers.

How much can I earn?

Annual salaries for beginning graphic designers range from a low of $28,000, a mid-point of $32,000 to a high of $38,000. After two to five years it has the potential to increase.