Graphic designers use lettering and images to communicate information and ideas. This could be for all kinds of purposes from advertisements to product packaging. If you have lots of creative ideas this career could be perfect for you.

To become a graphic designer, you will need to have IT and drawing skills. You'll need to be able to find practical solutions to problems. You'll also need excellent communication skills.

Most professional graphic designers have a foundation degree, HND or degree in graphic design or other art and design-based subject. The work as a graphic designer, your work would include:

  • discussing the requirements of the project (the brief) with clients and colleagues
  • providing costs for the project
  • choosing the most suitable materials and style
  • producing rough sketches or computer visuals to show the client
  • using specialist computer software to prepare designs
  • producing a final layout with exact specifications for typefaces, letter size and colours
  • working to budgets and deadlines.
  • You may also produce 3D designs for packaging, exhibitions and displays.

Hours

You would usually work from around 9am to 5pm, but you would need to work longer hours when there are deadlines to meet. As a freelance graphic designer, your hours would vary depending on the work you get.

You would usually be based in a studio or office, but may spend some time visiting clients and printers.

Income

Starting salaries can be between £14,000 and £17,000 a year.

Experienced graphic designers can earn from £18,000 to £30,000 a year, with senior designers earning between £32,000 and £50,000.

Figures are intended as a guideline only.

Entry requirements

Most professional graphic designers have a foundation degree, HND or degree in graphic design or other art and design-based subject. You can search for courses on the UCAS website. Check with colleges and universities as entry requirements for courses vary.

You will also need a working knowledge of desktop design software such as Illustrator, InDesign or QuarkXPress, and image editing packages like Photoshop. You can do courses in these at colleges, private training providers and through self-study.

An employer will be as interested in your design skills and creative ideas as they are in your qualifications. Talent and personal contacts (networking) are very important for getting work. You will need to have an up-to-date portfolio to show potential employers what you can do. Don’t be afraid to use your design skills (where appropriate) to make your CV stand out.

Unpaid work experience, holiday jobs and internships will give you the chance to develop your portfolio, make contacts and impress employers. You could also create a website to showcase your work.

Competition for jobs is strong and not all jobs are advertised, so as well as building contacts, you could approach companies and design agencies directly. A good starting point is to search for design agencies in the design directory of the British Design Innovation website.

British Design Innovation

You may be able to become a junior graphic designer through an Apprenticeship scheme. You will need to check which schemes are available in your area. To find out more, visit the Apprenticeships website.
Apprenticeships

You can find more information about careers in design, case studies and guides to setting up a design business on the Get Into Design and Creative Choices websites.
Get Into DesignCreative ChoicesTo become a graphic designer, you will need:

  • Creativity and imagination
  • IT skills
  • Drawing skills
  • An ability to find practical solutions to problems
  • Knowledge of printing techniques and photography
  • The ability to manage your time, meet deadlines and work within a budget
  • An understanding of current trends and styles
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Good spelling and grammar.