Graphic designers produce designs using images and words to get across ideas and information.
Working to a 'brief' from a client, senior designer or account executive, they create designs for adverts, packaging, menus, books, posters, letterheads, company logos and magazines.
You could be:
discussing the brief with a client, deciding how the design should look and how much it should cost
coming up with ideas and producing a series of computer visuals, or drawing a series of sketches to show the client
using specialist design software, such as InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop
making any changes as requested by the client, such as changing images or text
keeping to the budget and time scale for the work
presenting the final design to the client for approval
proofreading the final artwork and preparing the files for print
if you work freelance, showing your portfolio to employers to get more work.
Pay rates vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Starting salaries for qualified graphic designers in the UK tend to be in the range of £25,000 to £35,000 a year. Senior graphic designers can earn from £35,000 to £55,000 a year or more.
Some graphic designers work freelance. Depending on the work – the average hourly rate is around £20 to £30. The better known they are, the more they can charge.
You would work in a design studio or office, usually with a team of other designers.
If you work freelance you would work from home or share a studio space.
You would liaise with printers, clients, marketing professionals and sometimes photographers.
You might travel about the country to visit exhibitions, clients and printers.
You would work regular hours, but would have to work some evenings and weekends to meet deadlines.
You may be able to work part time.
Workforce Employment Status
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You usually need an HND (SCQF Level 8) or degree (SCQF Level 9) in graphic design, visual communication or art and design.
For entry to an HND you usually need 1-2 Highers, for a degree, 4-5 Highers, normally including English and Art and Design.
You also need a very good portfolio of artwork.
You could start by taking an NC or NQ (SCQF Levels 4-6) (formal entry requirements not always needed) or an HNC (SCQF Level 7) (1-2 Highers needed for entry) in a graphic design subject. This might get you a job, perhaps as an assistant graphic designer, or lead on to an HND or degree.
Good computer skills are essential.
For art school courses you need to apply through UCAS.
You could work with advertising agencies, design studios, publishing companies or broadcasting companies.
Workforce Education Levels (UK)
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EMSI UK What Does it Take?
You need to be:
artistic, creative and imaginative, with a good eye for colour and design
skilled in using graphics software
ambitious and motivated
accurate, with excellent attention to detail
good at listening to other people and explaining your own ideas
aware of commercial pressures
confident and outgoing, to sell work to clients.
You need to be able to:
accept criticism of your work
keep up to date with new design trends
organise your own workload
work to strict deadlines
understand different printing processes
work alone and as part of a team.
Training is through experience, on the job, learning new skills for projects you work on.
You will need to keep up to date with changes in graphic design software and technology throughout your career.
The Chartered Society of Designers offers a programme of continuous professional development.
You may start as an assistant graphic designer doing routine tasks.
You could then move on to be a graphic designer, then a senior graphic designer, leading a team.
You might move into a management job, which would mean doing less design work.
You might move to a larger company to gain wider experience and perhaps a higher salary.
You might move into design research, a new but growing field, based on either academic or market needs.
With experience, you might work freelance, or set up your own company.
For more information on creative careers see the
Discover Creative Careers Finder website. Video
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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