Learn . . . and earn!

Graphic Design

TechCareers: Graphic Design

By Mike Jones

ISBN: 978-1-936603-12-1

Publication date: April 2012

$14.95 Softback

Buy now at the TSTC Waco Bookstore.

Each TechCareers book has three sections:

  • detailed career information, necessary skill sets and  potential career pathways including salary ranges;
  • overview of required degrees and/or certifications that includes sample degree plans from schools in the United States; and
  • additional information including a comprehensive listing of instructional programs, major employers and industry-related websites/blogs.

Whether you’re a high school or workforce counselor looking to steer people into a career field best suited for them, a mid-life career changer, or just want to learn more about the state of the industry, the TechCareers series has the information you need.

Design is competitive, so challenge yourself at all times. Try to be innovative.  Do not pass any opportunity big or small, because you never know who you’re going to meet or where it may lead you.”

-Stacie Buterbaugh

A cool photo. A lively, original animation. Interesting text fonts. Flashanimations. Advertisements. Just about everyone who goes online sees plenty of these digital designs on any given day. With digital media becoming a larger part of the population’s lives, those with graphic design experience can shape and change the culture through design.

Most graphic designers begin their successful journeys with a fascination with color, drawing, photography, writing or storytelling – anything that elicits emotions, ideas or memories. A career in graphic design can turn those interests into an enjoyable career in a variety of industries.

The graphic design field allows for a great amount of flexibility. Since designers work with a bunch of other professionals – like writers, photographers and videographers – their flexible range of work can swing from freelancing on the side while still maintaining a steady job, to “top dog” designer for a Fortune 500 company.

Our Healthy, Wealthy and Wise Forefather

Though you may not think of him this way, Benjamin Franklin could really be considered one of the first graphic designers. In his publications, The Philadelphia Gazette and The Farmer’s Almanac, Franklin always included advertisements with engravings or large text to catch the reader’s eye.

Back in Franklin’s day, there weren’t that many competing brands selling their product. Fast forward to the 20th century; it was only in the 1950s and ‘60s when branding became a popular way to sell a product, and graphic designers were more in demand. Of course now, people can easily remember a product with the correct branding.

Occupational Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic design is expected to grow 13 percent from 2008 to 2018, as demand for graphic design continues to increase from advertisers and computer design firms.

In 2008, the average income for a beginner graphic designer was $35,000, but there is plenty of room to grow. Senior designers at a company average $60,000 a year, and those who freelance, depending on how networked they are, can earn an average of $57,000 a year without having to be at senior level. Those who own their own graphic design business can earn upwards to $95,000 a year – probably not the same amount of money Benjamin Franklin earned in his career as a publisher.

It also depends on where you work. If you’re in a small town working for a small graphic design company, you probably won’t earn as much as those working in a big city. In July of 2010, entry-level designers in Boston, Mass., earned $50,000 whereas those in Anchorage, Alaska, earned $37,000 a year.

Career Pathways

There are two routes you can take with a career in graphic design. Both routes offer multiple job options.

If you select the diminishing, but still very challenging and interesting world of print design, your jobs may include:

  • Type design
  • Magazine and/or newspaper layout and design
  • Book publishing
  • Publications of other types
  • Brochure or newsletter design
  • Cover design for CDs and DVDs
  • Label and packaging design
  • Logo design and branding
  • Print advertising layouts
  • Photography editing and manipulation
  • Hand-drawn or computer-assisted illustrations
  • Technical drawings

If you lean more in the direction of electronic or multi-media design, you may find yourself in the following careers:

  • Creating film and TV titles or credits
  • Television graphics
  • Video games
  • Computer and/motion graphics
  • Animation
  • Website design
  • Interactive media

Some of the main industries employing graphic designers include the following:

  • Computer systems design
  • Specialized design services
  • Advertising, public relations and related services
  • Newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers
  • Printing and related support activities


TechCareers: Graphic Design explores the career potential in the centuries-old tradition of graphics, design and printing. It provides insight into what the future might be for those interested in entering the field. With sections on education and training requirements, as well as job descriptions and salary ranges, TechCareers: Graphic Design is a great resource for anyone considering a career in the business.

About the Author

Mike Jones is a freelance writer based in Waco, Texas. He is a transplant from New Mexico, where he graduated from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque with training in writing for theatre and broadcast media. He worked extensively in the broadcasting, advertising and marketing fields prior to relocating to Texas to work as a writer/producer of instructional and student recruitment videos for Texas State Technical College. More recently, he has been involved in technical instructional curriculum research and development, as well as freelance media writing and production.

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