Do you have a passion for visual design? Are you creative and driven to succeed?
Then knowing how to become a graphic designer could be your ticket to a fulfilling career.
Graphic designers are professionals who create and design marketing materials such as logos, website designs, brochures, and labels. Their goal is to represent a brand or an idea through the use of typography, images, and layout.
Graphic designers are either self-employed, freelance workers or they are hired by a company to complete all their graphic design projects. Despite where a graphic designer works, all must have certain skills, education, and experience to be successful.
Ready to learn about what it takes to become a graphic designer?
Read on to discover how to become a graphic designer.
1. Research the Position
Before you fully decide on becoming a graphic designer, research the position. Speak with current graphic designers about what they like and don’t like about their jobs.
You should also ask them how they found success as a graphic designer. Ask them about the skills they needed to succeed as well as the knowledge they gained over the years.
It may also be helpful to take a personality test to determine if becoming a graphic designer is a good fit for you.
2. Take Applicable Courses in High School
In high school, focus on taking art, design, computer, and business courses. Graphic designers need to be well-rounded and they need to know how to use a variety of creative tools to succeed.
Most graphic designers use design software to complete their work, but some also have the ability to complete designs using freehand artistic skills. Gain as many art and design-driven skills as possible to determine if this is a career you could see yourself doing long-term.
Taking business courses in high school will also teach you how to understand branding, marketing, and business operations. This will especially be useful if you plan on becoming a freelance graphic designer. Freelance graphic designers are responsible for their own branding, pitching, marketing, and finances, so learning more about business functions as a whole will help you to understand how to operate as a solo entity.
3. Get Your Bachelor’s Degree
Most graphic designers are required to have a bachelor’s degree. While experience can be a substitute for formal education, most jobs require every candidate to have a degree or certification of some kind. Having a degree shows employers and clients that you have experience and training and that you were able to pass important design classes.
One bachelor’s degree you could obtain for graphic design is a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts in Graphic Design (BFA). A BFA is considered a more specialized graphic design degree because it focuses on building essential graphic design skills such as typography, color theory, and computer graphics. It’s geared towards building visual art skills and gaining experience.
More generalized bachelor’s degrees are a Bachelor’s of Arts or a Bachelor’s of Science with a focus on graphic design. These degrees will also provide you with many graphic design skills, but will also focus on other unrelated courses. These degrees can broaden your skill set beyond graphic design, however, in case you decide to take another career path.
Learn more about graphic design programs and degrees at this open house reception and exhibition.
4. Build Your Portfolio
Throughout your education, it’s important to begin creating a portfolio. Your portfolio should showcase your best work. It will give prospective employers and clients an idea of what you’re capable of and your design style.
Depending on your career goals, you can include a variety of designs and styles or create a specialized style that’s unique to you. Having a wide range of design skills and abilities will make you more marketable, however.
To continue building your portfolio, you should offer to complete volunteer work for businesses, clubs, and organizations. Offer to complete graphic design work free of charge to gain more experience and notoriety.
Include your work in your portfolio and add this experience to your resume. Volunteer work can also help you to secure references for future positions.
6. Complete an Internship
Internships are either paid or unpaid, but both give you an opportunity to gain experience and get your foot in the door. This is especially true if the company you’re interning for is a company you’d like to work for full-time after your internship. Internships can be completed at any time during your college education, during the summer months, or after college.
All internship experience can be put on your resume which will make you more qualified for future positions.
7. Apply to Jobs and Gain Experience
Begin to apply for jobs before you complete your Bachelor’s degree. Doing so will ensure that you’re ready to enter the workforce and transition from college to a career. You can also continue completing internships and volunteer work to gain additional experience.
When you apply to jobs, make sure that your resume and portfolio reflect who you are as a graphic designer. It’s also helpful to learn more about interviewing skills and communication skills to ensure you’re ready to make a good impression.
8. Consider Going Back to School for an Advanced Degree
You can either go straight into a Master’s Degree program for graphic design after receiving your Bachelor’s or you can join the workforce and then return to school. Gaining a Master’s degree in graphic design will make you more marketable and more likely to receive higher pay.
You’ll learn additional graphic design skills and you’ll gain the credentials that will make you qualified for advanced positions. You could also consider becoming a graphic design professor which would require a Ph.D. in most cases.
How to Become a Graphic Designer in 2019
Knowing how to become a graphic designer is essential to your career success. Always ask seasoned graphic designers about their experiences to gain more knowledge of the field. You could also ask a professional graphic designer to be your long-term mentor to guide you through the educational and career steps necessary to becoming the best graphic designer you can be.
Want to know all about display advertising as a graphic designer? Check out our blog post to learn about display ads and why they are so successful.