March 22, 2008
What This Job Pays: graphic designer
Pay: The median pay in the Seattle area is $44,850, with most designers making from $39,768 to $51,430, according to salary.com
Demand: Employment is expected to grow 10 percent, about as fast as average for all occupations from 2006 to 2016, as demand continues to increase from advertisers, publishers and computer-design firms. Some of this increase is expected to stem from the expansion of the video-entertainment market. Those with Web site design and animation experience will especially be needed. Demand also will increase as advertising firms create print and Web marketing and promotional materials for a growing number of products and services.
Graphic designers are expected to face keen competition for positions. Individuals with a bachelor's degree and knowledge of computer design software will have the best opportunities.
Graphic designers with a broad liberal-arts education and experience in marketing and business management will be best suited for developing communication strategies.
Need to know: A bachelor's degree is required for most entry-level and advanced graphic-design positions, although some entry-level technical positions may only require an associate degree. Bachelor's degree programs in fine arts or graphic design are offered at many schools.
Associate degrees and certificates in graphic design also are available from two- and three-year professional schools. These programs usually focus on the technical aspects of graphic design and include few liberal arts courses. Graduates of two-year programs normally qualify as assistants to graphic designers or for positions requiring technical skills only.
Individuals who want a career in graphic design, and who already have a bachelor's degree in another field, can complete a two– or three-year program in graphic design to learn the technical requirements.
Graphic designers must keep up with new and updated software, on their own or through software-training programs.
Graphic designers must be creative and able to communicate their ideas visually, verbally and in writing. They also must have an eye for details.
Designers show employers these traits by putting together a portfolio – a collection of examples of a person's best work. A good portfolio often is the deciding factor in getting a job.
People in this field need self-discipline to start projects on their own, to budget their time, and to meet deadlines and production schedules. Good business sense and sales ability also are important, especially for those who freelance or run their own firms.
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