4 Types of Graphic Design Careers (With Salaries and Duties)
Graphic designers can work in marketing and advertising, publishing, game development or digital communications. There are different specialisations within the field of graphic design, with each requiring particular skills and knowledge. Learning about the different graphic design careers available can help you decide on which to pursue. In this article, we provide a list of different graphic design careers, including their national average salaries and primary duties.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
4 types of graphic design careers
Here are four types of graphic design careers you can explore with lists of jobs and their salaries and primary duties:
1. Product design
Product design involves identifying market opportunities and blending user needs with business goals to enable companies to create successful products. Here are some careers you can pursue if you're interested in creating attractive and useful products:
Computer-aided design (CAD) designer
National average salary: $52,673 per year
Primary duties: CAD designers use CAD software to generate designs for complex projects. This may involve creating technical drawings to develop prototypes and modifying and generating digital models for physical objects. They also run simulations and stress tests on 3D models before prototyping. CAD designers establish timelines for product development and budgets and collaborate with various departments to select the appearance of a product. They typically work in the automotive, manufacturing and aerospace industries to assist with product development. For example, they may design parts of an industrial machine.
National average salary: $79,314 per year
Primary duties: A product designer oversees the design process of a product from start to finish. They conduct A/B testing and use surveys to study customer needs. Product designers then use their knowledge of colour, space, typography and other design elements to create a product. This may involve creating sketches, models or blueprints before producing more detailed and complex designs using online tools. Product designers also work on existing products in the market to make them more attractive and user-friendly for consumers. They determine current pain points, run tests and add features and updates.
2. Web and multimedia design
Web and multimedia design involves designing visually attractive designs that are also user-friendly and functional for websites, apps and video games. Graphic designers in this field may also have basic coding knowledge to understand the capabilities and limitations of code. Here are graphic design careers that involve web and multimedia design:
National average salary: $45,881 per year
Primary duties: Multimedia designers combine graphics with animation to create multimedia content for websites, television, film and advertising displays to improve a company's audience engagement. They may design multimedia content, such as video animation, educational software and interactive websites and create artwork for digital image processing. Multimedia designers also transfer audio and video files and edit them digitally. After meeting with clients and management to determine the project scope and requirements, they do research on different techniques and design ideas. They collaborate with other designers to develop content ideas and create mock-ups and meet with clients regularly to provide updates.
National average salary: $55,023 per year
Primary duties: Web designers create the design and layout of websites or web pages, focusing on the visual aspects of sites and their usability. They consider how to design the navigation of a site to provide the best user experience. They meet clients to discuss their requirements, research user journey needs and produce sample sites. They also test a site's functionality and usability and receive feedback about draft sites and implement them. Web designers also create graphics and logos and perform digital retouching and image editing. To produce innovative designs, they stay updated on the latest design trends and technological developments.
Video game designer
National average salary: $57,751 per year
Primary duties: Game designers create and design the overall concept and structure of a video game. This entails conceptualising new game ideas or designing concepts for existing games and creating engaging storylines and characters. They also develop the game mechanics, which include the gameplay, level design, challenges and rules. These designers ensure that the game has an appropriate difficulty level, confirming that it's challenging enough to engage users to continue playing but not overly difficult to the point of frustration. They collaborate with developers, artists and programmers to create games that meet a vision, develop timelines and budgets and address technical constraints.
User interface (UI) designer
National average salary: $65,785 per year
Primary duties: UI design entails the look, feel and interactivity of a digital product, such as websites and mobile applications. A UI designer designs all the screens that make up a digital UI and the individual elements that those screens feature. They also create visual design elements that make the movement from one page to another possible. They consider both the overall layout of each individual screen and how all the separate screens fit together so that the UIs are visually appealing, accurately convey the brand and are enjoyable for a user to navigate.
User experience (UX) designer
National average salary: $77,566 per year
Primary duties: UX designers create products or services that are user-friendly, enjoyable and accessible. They work on digital design for websites and applications and handle the end-to-end journey of a user's interaction with a product. They understand a user by conducting research into their behaviour, motivations and needs. UX designers may conduct surveys, user interviews and focus groups to collect data. They also identify the opportunities in a specific market for product solutions. After analysing their research, they build user personas and design site maps, wireframes and prototypes. They track how users interact with the product, identify problems and develop solutions.
3. Art and illustration
Illustrators and artists typically use traditional mediums, such as pen and paper, but they're also adept at using digital tools to create original artwork. Here are some careers to consider:
National average salary: $37,609 per year
Primary duties: Graphic artists develop a unique style and create artwork for advertisements or publications. Employers usually commission them to create art for a specific project. Depending on their personal style and preference, they use various techniques and media to create their work. To stay competitive in the field and produce innovative designs, they may experiment with unconventional design principles and incorporate different stylistic elements into their work. They typically collaborate with writers, editors, managers, marketers and art directors to create artwork that meets a client's requirements.
National average salary: $43,222 per year
Primary duties: Illustrators create artwork that clients may commission for a variety of purposes, including books, newspapers, advertisements and catalogues. They liaise with editors, authors or designers to understand what emotions and messages to convey through the artwork. They usually negotiate prices and deadlines according to the complexity of the designs and the scale of the project. Illustrators then do research, brainstorm ideas for the design and exchange ideas with the client. They produce rough sketches and present them to the client, reworking concepts and designs until the client is satisfied. Illustrators then create final illustrations before a discussed deadline.
4. Fashion design
If you're passionate about fashion and art, you can pursue a career in fashion design. Here are more details about this profession:
National average salary: $40,989 per year
Primary duties: A fashion designer designs ready-to-wear clothing and accessories. They may work as a specialist and choose to focus on a certain area, such as children's shoes or activewear for women, or work as a generalist. They work closely with a fashion design and brand team to produce all-over prints, placement prints and graphics for clothing. Fashion designers also create designs for labels and swing tags. They conduct research into fashion trends and new dye and printing techniques and share their findings with their team.
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