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11 Careers You Can Pursue as a Graphic Designer

Did you know that there are over 270,000 graphic designers employed in the United States? A career as a graphic designer might be right for you if you enjoy creating digital art with tools such as Canva, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, to name a few. In addition to learning industry-leading software, it’s important to develop soft skills such as time management, communication, and project management.

Some might hold the misconception that a graphic design career comes with a single title: graphic designer. However, there are many roles that are available for creative professionals to consider. From a user interface (UX) designer to an art director, in this blog we’ll explore 11 exciting and ambitious careers you can pursue with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Graphic Design.

1. Brand Identity Designer

Role Overview

A brand identity designer, sometimes called a brand designer, works to help identify a brand’s identity through design strategy, creative storytelling, and fresh design assets. Typically working with startups and new businesses, a brand identity designer has the power to breathe life into conceptual ideas. It’s important to practice your skills before landing your first job or client, however. At Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, students receive real-world experience in brand identity design in the Special Topics: Design Systems Course.

Key Responsibilities

  • Design logos
  • Create brand guidelines
  • Develop a brand color palette
  • Select appropriate typography

Requirements

To excel in this role, you’ll need a solid understanding of brand strategy, excellent design skills, and good communication. A formal degree and strong portfolio are typically requirements for landing a job. Brand identity designers need to master creative software, such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.

2. User Experience (UX) Designer

Role Overview

A user experience (UX) designer’s focus is on creating an enjoyable digital experience for users. Typically working on a website, mobile app, or software, UX designers will need to utilize Sketch, Figma, and Adobe Illustrator in their day-to-day work. The role puts a strong emphasis on understanding user behaviors, conducting user research, and crafting intuitive interfaces that prioritize how users feel interacting with a site.

Key Responsibilities

  • Develop user research
  • Create wireframes
  • A/B test
  • Visual prototyping

Requirements

Many UX jobs require a bachelor’s degree and a proven UX design skills portfolio. Familiarity with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is also recommended in addition to design work.

3. User Interface (UI) Designer

Role Overview

Not to be confused with a UX designer, a user interface (UI) designer represents the visuals displayed on a screen. This role works closely with the UX designer to build a cohesive and engaging online experience. From websites to apps, this role decides visual elements such as color, typography, and shape.

Key Responsibilities

  • Create web design prototypes
  • Ensure a consistent design look
  • Utilize design software
  • Collaborate with UX designer

Requirements

Mastering Figma, Sketch, and Adobe Photoshop is essential to becoming a successful UI designer. Typically, employers look for candidates that hold a bachelor’s degree and understand advanced design principles.

4. Motion Graphics Designer

Role Overview

A motion graphics designer, also called a motion designer, brings motion to otherwise still graphics. Typically, these are often shapes, transitions, and title cards. This role is relatively new alongside the rise of video production and social media content. Software motion designers typically use Adobe After Effects, Blender, and Cinema 4D in their workflow.

Key Responsibilities

  • Animate design assets
  • Collaborate with design team
  • Select audio, effects, and typography for project

Requirements

A mastery of animation principles, video editing software, and a good eye for timing and visual storytelling will set you on the path to success in this field. “Getting a formal education is typically a more efficient way to learn the basics of the role,” explains Indeed.

5. Digital Illustrator

Role Overview

Becoming a digital illustrator is a popular career path that many artists choose to pursue. At the heart of the role, you are creating unique illustrations for your company or organization. An illustration draft might be created using pen and paper with the final product being illustrated using Procreate or Adobe Illustrator.

Key Responsibilities

  • Utilize creative software to create illustrations
  • Manage multiple projects
  • Collaborate with team on goals and expectations

Requirements

A stellar portfolio of past work or projects is sure to get you started freelancing or working in-house. Flexibility is extremely important as a digital illustrator as you might be working under tight deadlines using a variety of software to get the job done.

6. Packaging Designer

Role Overview

If you’re anything like us, you love to see a well-designed package that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Packaging designers are no different, always looking for optimal ways to design and market products through packaging.

Key Responsibilities

  • Knowledge of the packaging process
  • Product packaging design
  • Collaborate with product and marketing department

Requirements

Packaging can get quite complicated, so it’s best to have knowledge of industrial design and manufacturing processes. Additionally, learning to tell a story with limited space requires some serious creative thinking. Employers typically look for candidates with a proven portfolio history of projects or past clients. 

7. Advertising & Marketing Designer

Role Overview

An advertising and marketing designer’s focus is on creating captivating visual assets for advertising campaigns, social media, and promotional materials. Visual assets work with the campaign copy to drive action from viewers.

Key Responsibilities

  • Excellent communication
  • Provide visuals for marketing campaigns
  • Design mock-ups for marketing pitches

Requirements

You’ll need an understanding of marketing basics, a capacity for visual storytelling, and, if working with an agency, the ability to adapt to diverse brand voices and styles.

8. Environmental Graphic Designer

Role Overview

Imagine you walk into a store and there are no pictures on the wall or signs to tell you where to find a certain department. Pretty boring, right? Environmental graphic designers create the visual elements you see in any given space. Whether it’s the color of a room, signage, or graphical elements, an environmental graphic designer is probably responsible(unless it falls under the interior design category, of course).

Key Responsibilities

  • Create a visually-pleasing space
  • Understand what visual elements work together
  • Coordinate with client to understand the theme

Requirements

Having experience in industry-standard software such as Adobe Illustrator, AutoCAD, or SketchUp is essential to complete projects to a high standard. Many creatives who work in signage design hold a bachelor’s degree or portfolio experience.

9. Publication Designer

Role Overview

As a publication designer, your job is to creatively show off a publication’s story. Whether it’s a physical magazine or a digital release, a publication designer determines the look and feel of the final product.

Key Responsibilities

  • Magazine layout design
  • Managing multiple physical and digital publications
  • Cross-departmental collaboration
  • Assisting with website design

Requirements

Employers are typically looking for candidates with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, communications, or a related field. Comfortability with InDesign and Figma is a key aspect of the day-to-day job.

10. Art Director

Role Overview

The job of an art director is collaborative and expressful, often leading a team of creative professionals. This role is a mid to senior-level position that oversees the visual aspects of a project and provides creative direction.

Key Responsibilities

  • Creating a vision
  • Leading a team of creatives
  • Understanding design principles
  • Maintaining consistency

Requirements

Leadership and project management skills are in high demand as an art director and will help pave the way to a project’s success. Additionally, a bachelor’s degree is required for almost all mid and senior-level art director positions.

11. Freelance Graphic Designer

Role Overview

A freelance graphic designer requires many different skills, from logo design and illustration to typography and layout design. A freelancer will work with many clients across a wide variety of industries. Additionally, being adept at marketing your freelance work will be essential to success. Many freelance designers will find themselves working in the Adobe Creative Cloud for their clients’ projects.

Key Responsibilities

  • Project management
  • Strong client communication
  • Excellent design skills
  • Creating design assets

Requirements

Many employers looking to hire graphic design freelancers hope to see a strong art portfolio along with formal training or education, which can indicate a strong commitment to long-term projects.

Ready to Build Your Graphic Design Portfolio?

If these careers in graphic design align with your interests, then building a graphic design portfolio is an important next step in your journey. It’s evident that the job of a graphic designer allows for a flexible career path across a variety of industries. From a UX/UI designer to an independent freelancer, graphic design opportunities are not slowing down any time soon, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To learn more about a graphic degree from Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, check out our on-campus and online programs today.

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