Graphic designers use lettering and images to communicate information and ideas.

What does a graphic designer do?

This could be for all kinds of purposes, from advertisements to product packaging. Working as a graphic designer would include:

  • discussing the requirements of the project (the brief) with clients and colleagues
  • providing costs for the project
  • choosing the most suitable materials and style
  • producing rough sketches or computer visuals to show the client
  • using specialist computer software to prepare designs
  • producing a final layout with exact specifications for typefaces, letter size and colours
  • working to budgets and deadlines

This role may also involve producing 3D designs for packaging, exhibitions and displays.

What do I need to do to become a graphic designer?

To become a graphic designer, you will need to have IT and drawing skills. You'll need to be able to find practical solutions to problems. You'll also need excellent communication skills.

Most professional graphic designers have a foundation degree, HND or degree in graphic design or other art and design-based subject. You will also need a working knowledge of desktop design software, such as Illustrator, InDesign or QuarkXPress, and image-editing packages such as Photoshop. You can do courses in these at colleges, private training providers and through self-study.

An employer will be as interested in your design skills and creative ideas as they are in your qualifications. Talent and personal contacts (networking) are very important for getting work. You will need to have an up-to-date portfolio to show potential employers what you can do. Don’t be afraid to use your design skills (where appropriate) to make your CV stand out.

Unpaid work experience, holiday jobs and internships will give you the chance to develop your portfolio, make contacts and impress employers. You could also create a website to showcase your work.

Competition for jobs is strong and not all jobs are advertised, so as well as building contacts, you could approach companies and design agencies directly. A good starting point is to search for design agencies in the design directory of the British Design Innovation website.

You may be able to become a junior graphic designer through an apprenticeship scheme. You will need to check which schemes are available in your area. 

Related skills

  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • IT
  • Literacy
  • Problem solving
  • Technical ability
  • Time management

Desirable qualifications

  • A foundation degree, HND or degree in graphic design or other art and design-based subject

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

You would usually be based in a studio or office, but may spend some time visiting clients and printers.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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