Skills to get a successful career in graphic design

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Graphic designers find work in virtually every industry. There is no shortage of need for graphic content, especially in the current online landscape where it’s important to have high-quality images for websites and online properties. A background in skills for career in graphic design can translate to a long-term career in numerous highly visible fields. There are also fields that you may never have thought of that need graphic designers.

 Entry into this field often needs a bachelor’s degree, as well as experience in the field, at minimum. In some cases, you may need a teaching degree and certification. In order to have a thriving career as a graphic designer, though, you need the right set of skills. Here is a list of the graphic design skills employers are looking for today.

Creativity and innovation

Any designer can create a design based on an established design pattern or the work of others. But the best graphic designers can come up with unique, creative ideas for their projects. Having a visual eye is essential no matter what medium you work in. Graphic designers should do as much as they can to improve their creative and innovative thinking capabilities.


Collaboration is about give and take, and requires good communication skills. Designers who are new to working with a team should practice giving and receiving constructive feedback. They should also take time to learn more practical skills like how to use collaborative software.  Thus, being able to listen well, process feedback, and explain design elements—without getting technical—will give you a big advantage.

Adobe’s creative apps

Knowing how to use Adobe’s creative software—specifically Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop—is a base requirement for many graphic design jobs.  If you aren’t looking to grow on a continuous basis, you’ll be stuck implementing the same old design patterns that everyone has seen before.


Though you don’t need to be an expert at coding for most graphic design jobs, “having at least a basic understanding of HTML is important, since it teaches you how to understand what goes into creating a website.  Learning the fundamentals of Java and C++ will make you even more marketable.

Delivering presentations

Graphic designers are essentially storytellers, says Jenkins. So, having the ability to take complex data and present it in a clear, digestible way to customers or clients will make you a more valuable employee.


Storytelling might seem like an odd soft skill for a graphic designer. The best designs, though, often tell stories to those viewing them. Going even further, the best brands absolutely tell a story.  A brand story doesn’t necessarily need to have a beginning, middle, and end, with narrative ups and downs. What it does need to have is something that causes its customers to react in an emotional way, and to want to take action to achieve a desired outcome.

As a skill for career in graphic designer, you know how important a clean, clear layout is to nabbing someone’s attention, and this holds very true for your resume. Your skills should be properly displayed to make sure hiring managers move you to the top of the pile.

Here are four  industries where a graphic designer can find fulfilling work:

A degree in graphic design opens the door for a wide variety of career options. Many graphic designers begin their studies with one particular industry in mind. A list detailing every industry where graphic designers can put their skills to use would be quite long and would definitely not be exhaustive. . What you may not realize is that there are other industries outside the mainstream where graphic designers can find their true calling and flourish.


 Some graphic designers desire to teach right from the start and may work toward a teaching degree with a minor in graphic design. Depending on the type of teaching certificate, you might find a position in a high school or college. There is job growth for those in this field, and depending on the level of teaching and school district, tenure and other benefits may apply. For those whose career path is teaching, a background in graphic design can help with creating coursework for students and meeting needs within the school and various organizations.

User Experience

User experience, or UX, is a specialty corner of web design is an important skills in Graphic designing. While many web designers also perform UX functions, this niche can develop into an exceptionally rewarding career path for graphic design. For those with a graphic design background, UX can be an exciting field. You have the skills in design and knowledge of best practices to help assess the user experience of a website. This massive niche is one that continues to flourish.

Mobile App Design

Many graphic designers contemplate using their degree to design games, but mobile app design uses the same skills —  giving the graphic designer yet another career option. Skills for career in Graphic designers are in high demand here because mobile apps need to be both agile and user-friendly. The median wage in this field is around $100,000 per year, but that can fluctuate.

Packaging and Manufacturing

Packaging and manufacturing are industries that have a huge need for graphic design. Graphic designers often are tasked with creating branding and messaging that will come to identify products for their clients. Manufacturers need graphic designers to aid in selling products and other tasks specific to what they create. For some products, this might include user instructions or a user manual.

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