Often, we meet non-designers who tend to think that a graphic designer’s job is very simple. After all, everyone can think of a logo or flyer design, right? Well, not unless you understand what the graphic designer’s job description is really about; you may also remain stuck with the same notion.
While pursuing their creative liberty and working on getting compensated accordingly is one of the perks of being a graphic designer, the job description is far more than just coming up with flyers, fonts, logos, etc. For you to flourish as one (or rather survive in the harsh, competitive market), you need to be inclined to adopt skills that are out of your ability of a designer set.
All the skills you need also go beyond whatever you were taught in college to other factors that incorporate soft skills too. Some of them include the comprehension of the psychology behind a design layout, coming up with brilliant design ideas, and, most importantly, having tips on how to manage criticism. The designer must also be up to date with the latest and trending styles, ideas, and tools (or software) to remain relevant in this field.
While this guide is mostly curated for the employer, you could also benefit by understanding all the nitty-gritty regarding graphic designing, helping you know whether you want to continue with this career path.
What exactly does a graphic designer do?
Graphic designers, also known as graphic artists or communication designers, create visual concepts by hand or using computer software to pass a particular message. They develop the overall layout used to inspire, captivate, and inform the consumers (those that the message is intended for).
A graphic designer’s job can be seen through a number of media such as magazines, posters, flyers, advertisements, brochures, and many more. They achieve all these by combining art and technology to ensure that the right message is passed through such images and graphics. At times, they can add artistic or decorative effects to make the work even better.
If you saw a poster that you liked, you might be tempted to imagine that the work put into it wasn’t that significant. However, creating even a simple flyer can take hours to perfect. For starters, the designers have to select the right fonts, size, color, length of lines, headings, headlines, and text.
Furthermore, they also have to ensure that the theme of the message corresponds to the overall design of the illustration. One other mistake that newbie graphic designers make is not cross-checking that the text and images put together go well in print or on the digital platform. The spacing of words also matters greatly, as whatever you put across has a meaning, and it would be wrong to miss-match.
Finding the right graphic designer is the ultimate goal for every business with an online presence or one that wants to launch a marketing campaign. The right design has the ability to convert leads into sales, and the opposite has the same impacts negatively.
It is important to note that the creative industry is ever-evolving. With the rapid growth of technology, you’d expect that newer tools and software are made to improve the field. This is why graphic designers are compelled to stay up to date with all the latest trends in the industry to remain competitive.
Roles and responsibilities of a graphic designer
When creating a comprehensive graphic designer’s job description, it would be best first to identify the key responsibilities of a graphic designer. The main ones include:
- Conceptualizing visuals based on requirements
- Creating images and layouts
- Testing graphics across various media
When employed, the candidate’s job description will expand, and they will be able to handle many other roles. Some of them include to:
- Study design briefs and determine requirements
- Schedule projects and define budget constraints
- Conceptualize visuals based on requirements
- Prepare rough drafts and present ideas
- Develop illustrations, logos, and other designs using software or by hand
- Use the appropriate colors and layouts for each graphic.
- Work with copywriters and creative directors to produce the final design.
- Test graphics across various media
- Amend designs after feedback
- Ensure final graphics and layouts are visually appealing and on-brand
Training and education
Graphic designers usually require a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field. However, it would be essential to note that the creative industry is highly dependent on one’s creativity and originality. One might have only studied the craft through simple graphic design courses but beats someone with a master’s degree to come up with unique concepts.
Even though most corporate employers will ask for the certifications named above, most of them will want to see the candidate’s portfolio. This is the best way to discern whether that’s the right person for the job, or you may have to keep on searching.
Many employers often prefer to hire someone with a couple of years of experience up their sleeve. After working for some time, one can become more comfortable with the software and also will have known more creative ways to handle specific assignments.
If someone doesn’t have many years of experience, they should have at least gone for an internship program at a known company or agency. Internships are great as they equip one with the necessary skills needed to tackle the ‘real environment.’ Furthermore, they get to be mentored by someone that has been long in the game, equipping them with skills that’ll help them become one of the best in the industry.
Most learning institutions help their students to set up stellar portfolios before they graduate. Even if a candidate doesn’t seem to have a lot of experience, it would be best to look at their portfolio before ruling them out. Maybe your answer lies with them.
Licenses and certifications
There are many types of licenses and certifications that graphic designers can get. In most cases, these certifications are awarded by software product vendors. If a graphic designer demonstrates competence over the use of such a program, they can be provided with an award showing that they possess a competitive advantage. This is crucial, more so to clients who wish the designers to use a particular product the most.
Character and personality traits
According to the Holland Code framework, graphic designers have a keen interest in the persuading and creating areas. The creating areas show that the person’s key focus is on being original and imaginative. Such people are best placed to work with artistic media.
On the other hand, those with a persuading interest area indicate a key focus with motivating, influencing, and eventually selling to others. You can also find your calling by taking a quick career test to measure your interests.
That is just the start of getting to know the right candidate. Apart from knowing whether the graphic designer is mostly a creative or persuasive person, some of the other qualities to look for when creating a graphic designer’s job description include:
- Analytical skills – a graphic designer needs to get into the consumer’s shoes and view their work from their perspective. How will the consumer perceive the message? Is it easily understood, or it is filled with too much jargon? Is there anything that needs to be redone? One must be able to ask themselves such and many other questions to analyze their work before submission.
- Communication skills – graphic designers must know how to effectively communicate with customers and their colleagues to ensure that their designs reflect the desired message.
- Computer skills – although it is a no brainer that a graphic designer must have vast knowledge about computer operations, they must also understand the various graphic design software and tools.
- Time-management skills – graphic designers often work on several projects at a go. This means that they should know how to correctly manage their time as some projects might be time-sensitive.
- Creativity and artistic ability – when hired, graphic designers are automatically tasked with becoming the face of the company or brand that they are to market. They need to put themselves in the client’s shoes and figure out how the brand would best be received. After that, one should also develop unique and creative ways of putting the brand out there without copying someone else’s style.
The median annual wage for a graphic designer in the US is $45,677 as of November 2020. The median wage is the salary at which half the workers earn.
The pay is, however, different for various fields that one works in. Take a look at the average annual compensation for graphic designers in some of the most popular areas of work:
Printing and related support activities
Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers
Specialized design services
Advertising, public relations, and related services
Take a look at a summary of the things you need to consider when putting out a job description for a graphic designer:
Key requirements for a graphic designer
- Proven graphic designing experience
- A strong portfolio of illustrations or other graphics
- Familiarity with design software and technologies (such as Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Photoshop)
- A keen eye for aesthetics and details
- Excellent communication skills
- Ability to work methodically and meet deadlines
- A degree in Design, Fine Arts, or related field is a plus.
Sample graphic designer’s job description template
Do you have a keen eye for color palettes you see in advertisements? Do you immediately notice the flaws when you see a photoshopped image? If you have a knack for detail on digital designs, you may have what it takes to work in our graphic design department.
As our graphic designer, you can put your creativity into reality to create beautiful images that become compelling marketing content. We rely on graphic designers to make the visual front of our company, and we highly value their contributions.
If you’re seeking a position where you can apply your graphic design expertise and join a supportive team, we have a spot for you. We welcome you to submit your resume and an accompanying application. To be successful in this position, you’ll be a self-starter, capable of delivering brilliant creative ideas, and show exceptional attention to detail.
- Planning concepts by studying relevant information and materials.
- Illustrating concepts by designing examples of art arrangement.
- Contributing to team efforts by accomplishing tasks as needed.
- Communicating with clients about layout and design.
- Creating a wide range of graphics and layouts for product illustrations, company logos, and websites with approved software.
- Reviewing final layouts and suggesting improvements when necessary.
- Strategize designs that will elicit a positive response, communicate important ideas, and share company values with viewers.
- Organize campaigns that utilize stunning graphics to create a positive impression of the company while promoting increased visibility.
- Develop goals relating to the performance of final products, including viewership metrics and market response.
- Integrate company values into design work in order to effectively demonstrate the nature of the company and attract customers on an ideological basis.
- Innovate new and exciting visual designs that capture the target market’s attention and sell them on essential aspects of the product.
Skills and qualifications
- Bachelor’s degree or higher in a creative field
- Proficiency in programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills
- Minimum of two years’ experience in graphic design
- Demonstrable graphic design skills with a strong portfolio
- A strong eye for visual composition.
- Effective time management skills and the ability to meet deadlines
- Able to give and receive constructive criticism
- Ability to multitask
- Certification in graphic design skills
- Experience with computer-aided design
Searching for the ideal graphic designer doesn’t need to be a daunting task. The best thing you can do to save yourself a lot of time and effort is to put out a comprehensive job description. Still, having more questions regarding graphic design as a career? Why not take a look at some of the popular questions we often get asked?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Can I get a graphic designer’s job if I don’t have a bachelor’s degree in the field?
A: Most Graphic Designers have a bachelor’s degree in art, graphic design, or a related field. However, many companies that are mostly result-oriented make exceptions. Candidates with stellar portfolios or real-world experience often make the cut too, even without a degree or a higher qualification.
Q: Can certifications in higher education and a great portfolio land me a graphic design job?
A: Having higher education and a stellar portfolio is an added advantage when applying for a graphic design job. However, apart from the technical skills, employers also test your soft skills such as effective communication, the ability to handle negative criticism, and time-management skills.
Q: Must graphic designers be good at drawing?
A: Graphic Designers do not need to draw but instead need to create appealing designs using assets such as images, typography, and illustrations, either by hand or by using computer software.