Graphic designers have important roles in various industries and job fields. Graphic design helps communicate messages using visual means, a field that requires multiple skills. However, with the drastically shifted job trend in the digital industrial era, there is a fear of decreasing the need for graphic designers. Is it true?
If you are interested in becoming a graphic designer, find out your career outlook in the future and what challenges and possibilities you can expect.
Future Graphic Design Employment Outlook
Graphic design is a versatile field, demanding designers to be able to adapt to different clients. The most basic education level for this profession is a Bachelor’s Degree. However, many designers are known for learning the trade by themselves, thanks to the ubiquitous online courses, software, programs, tutorials, and classes.
Compared to other popular professions in the digital age, such as software designer and data analyst, graphic designer experiences slower but steady growth. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth projection of graphic design-related employment between 2020 and 2030 is around three percent, a lower-than-average number in the US.
However, you should not let this projection affects your decision. Every year, job openings and pitches for designer works are quite abundant. In the United States alone, the numbers of job openings reach around 24,000 per year. The rising numbers of startup openings and entrepreneurs, along with innovations in the digital and tech world, require the need for graphic designers.
Why Graphic Design Still Matters?
A graphic designer works by translating messages into visual media, combining various elements such as images, illustrations, color palettes, and typography. Therefore, they hold important roles in various fields, from manufacturing and corporations to small businesses, state institutions, and organizations.
Graphic design matters for companies, business owners, and institutions who need good branding strategy. Consistency is one of the keys to successful branding because the public will associate the visual elements with the brand. Graphic designers create branding visuals that become the identities of the clients, such as the color palettes, typography, font, logos, and images. Clients then use them for marketing their brands by focusing on this imagery.
Graphic designers also have important roles in maintaining the clients’ visibility and good reputation. Well-designed brands are known for having credibility among public, who associate their visual identities with specific qualities. Brands and companies may also need to refresh their visual identities every few years, keeping the market alive for graphic designers.
Finally, graphic designers are needed to communicate messages through visuals. These messages can be anything, from campaigns of causes to government announcements. Visual elements make it easier for messages to reach the public. A good designer knows how to create a clear message in an attractive way, using local culture and custom to ground the designs.
Graphic Designer’s Work Environments
There are many possible environments where a graphic designer can work. Here are just some examples to show what kind of environments you can expect:
Design studios often employ several designers at the same time so that you may work together with likeminded people. Companies and institutions that do not have in-house designers outsource their projects to these studios. If the studio receives a large project, you will have to work in a team. Many designers also start their own studios, something that you can do at home for the start.
Another common work environment for graphic designers, publishing companies will need you to create designs for book covers and illustrations. You may also need to create branding elements for the companies’ events. If the publishing company is about to launch a popular or highly-anticipated book, you must also create promotional materials based on the book.
Graphic design is an inseparable part of advertising. Many graphic designers find employment at an advertising agency, translating ideas into visual forms to communicate brand messages. Just like in design studios and companies, you need to work with multiple people of different skills, such as market analysts and copywriters.
Companies often hire in-house designers to do brand promotion. This is not the case for all companies, as many prefer to work with design studios. However, big companies with continuous marketing efforts may hire in-house designers to work with them.
Hospitality industry largely depends on reputation to attract customers. Graphic designers have big roles in creating positive brand messages and convincing ads for hotels, spas, resorts, restaurants, theme parks, travel agents, and tourist establishments. You can work to create ad campaigns, brand exposures, or physical products.
Graphic designers may work with or in government institutions. The tasks are usually related to public campaigns, programs, PSA, and publications. Graphic designers who work in government institutions may also be responsible for public relations campaigns. The work principles are similar if you work at nonprofit organizations.
There are several possibilities for graphic designers who work at educational institutions. You may create various designs or materials for program campaigns, advertisements, announcements, etc. If you have a higher educational background, you can contribute by being a lecturer or book writer.
Possible Careers for Graphic Designers
After you finish learning the basics of graphic design, there are other career possibilities than being a “graphic designer.” Your ability to create concepts, combine visual elements, and play with styles can translate well to other professions still related to this field. Here are some other possible careers to try with graphic design skills.
A concept artist often works in the movie, game, and animation industries. They create concepts of backgrounds, places, vehicles, objects, and characters to translate into the screens or paper. They work together with other experts such as animators, modelers, and VFX artists. This job requires intricate skills, but the prospect is quite big, especially with the rising growth of the game, animation, and movie industries.
Product Concept Artist
Product concept artist works with companies, creating visual concepts during product planning and designing stages. These designers work together with other experts responsible for product creation, such as marketing experts, product design team, and finance team.
Product developer is more complicated than product concept artist. If you have this position, you are responsible for other tasks related to design. You must know about marketing and industry research since they contribute to the concepts you create. You are also responsible for the proposal, presentation, and further development of the product.
A creative director can work in various fields, such as movie and game studios, advertising agencies, and companies. This profession requires you to maintain the cohesive look and aesthetic in team projects, ensuring that the result matches the planned concept. A creative director must also have other skills, such as negotiation, finance, team management, and proposal pitching.
Art directors usually work at publishing companies, production companies, or magazine offices. Their jobs are related to the visual style and content in products like books, magazines, and websites, making sure that everything looks cohesive before being launched to the public. Art directors not only have to apply graphic design knowledge but also consider things such as budgets, risk mitigations, and client diplomacy.
A graphic designer may take specialization, and brand design is one of the most popular (and competitive) options. In brand design, you use your skill to create a visual look based on the messages and concepts the clients provide. You create not only the logo but also the color palette and even package design.
UX and UI Designers
Have passions in graphic design, IT, and web design? You can work as UX or UI designer. UX designers focus on the overall experiences when people use specific programs, applications, websites, or software. Meanwhile, UI designers focus on the interaction between users and the elements of the said products, such as the design of the screen, icons, and navigation buttons.
Lecturer and Instructor
Graphic designers with enough experience and working hours can apply as lecturers in universities or design schools. However, the digital age opens more possibilities for graphic designers who do not have higher education degrees, something that is often demanded from formal institutions.
For example, you can share your knowledge as an instructor in online course programs. If you have a passion for video production, you can create a YouTube or TikTok account and share useful tips and lessons. Once you accumulate enough subscribers and views, you can monetize them. These videos can work as passive income and portfolios.
Skills to Have as Graphic Designers
After picturing the outlook and possibilities for a graphic design career, you can start accumulating important skills. Many graphic designers are demanded to have skills outside the actual design, which are important if you want to apply to specific industries.
Here are essential skills graphic designers must-have.
The obvious IT skills are related to design software and program. You need to know how to use popular photo editing and design software such as Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. Other IT skills are not directly unrelated but can be useful in your line of work, such as video editing, app designing, and coding skill. Many companies also consider familiarity with HTML as a plus point for employing a graphic designer.
Ideation is the ability to formulate a concept based on various ideas. A graphic designer often has to work with multiple sources and inspiration. Depending on the project, a good designer must be able to create a fully formed concept from these ideas before executing it. Ideation is related to creativity, inspiration, and innovation.
Ideation requires the ability to depict the concept in visual form. It may include sketching, making the digital concept, creating mood boards and thumbnails, and other visual representations related to the field or business.
Design for Print
We may live in a digital age, but design for print is still an important skill for graphic designers. Traditional prints are still used in banners, stickers, brochures, books, packages, etc. A graphic designer must understand print technology, tools, and all the terminology. Design for print also demands an understanding of color combinations, paper sizes, and other related concepts.
Data and Market Research
Graphic designers must at least understand the basics of data and market research. It is useful to understand many things, such as popular trends, demographic profiles, competitions, etc. This skill becomes crucial if you decide to be a freelancer or open your own studio.
Branding skill is important if you aim to work for companies, business owners, and institutions. You need to understand color combination, typography, brand psychology, and brand message. You must also hone the skill to understand the local culture, context, and customs of your target market.
Various Management Skills
A graphic designer must work with a lot of clients or partners and often deal with strict deadlines. Time management, collaboration, and priority management must be on your skill list.
Making a professional, attractive portfolio is important to convince future employers or clients. When you start doing more work, your portfolio needs constant updates. A graphic designer must know how to arrange all the portfolios in one convenient place that can be constantly updated.
Presentation and Communication
A graphic designer in the professional world needs to constantly communicate with clients, team members, other experts, etc. Communication and presentation skills are crucial and can determine a successful or failed pitch. These skills include the ability to describe concepts and ideas in languages that everyone can understand.
Even with the level of competition and supposedly slow growth, graphic design is still an important profession with a positive outlook in the future. If you want to be successful as a graphic designer, make sure to set yourself above in the competition. Start collecting all the essential graphic design skills based on your preferred work environments and fields, and be a future competitive candidate for challenging, interesting works.