So You’re a Graphic Designer…What Do You Do?

When you hear the phrase “graphic designer”, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Do you envision someone arranging images and text on a page?  Do you imagine logos, drawings or digital illustrations? Maybe you picture signage, business cards and letterhead designs.The truth is, the graphic design profession encompasses all of those and more! With so many different types of designers within the graphic design field, some times saying you’re a graphic designer just isn’t enough. Graphic design is a complex field that branches out into many, different creative specializations. It’s important to know a little about each branch so you can choose an occupation that fits you best as a graphic designer.


Editorial Designer
These designers are all about design and layout. To be an editorial designer, it’s important to have strong InDesign skills, an eye for typography and a love for typesetting. In this area of graphic design, the focus is all about creating layouts that are visually pleasing and selecting fonts that are best for legibility. These designers are skilled in arranging elements on a page in a way that is functional and easy to read.  A graphic designer in this field is likely to freelance or work in-house creating layouts for magazines, newspapers, books, publications and online media.
Salary Range: $29,000-$75,000 | Median: $43,000


Web/Mobile Designer
Creating web pages and mobile apps requires designers to have a balanced combination of creative and technical skills. In web design, it is important to create websites and apps that attract their target audience in efforts to drive more traffic to the site. These designers are pros at building aesthetically pleasing pages, and paying careful attention to colors, font choices, layouts and images. They also focus on the usability of sites and applications, to ensure their designs are user-friendly and functional. Adobe Photoshop and Dreamweaver are common programs for these graphic designers and HTML/CSS is their specialty. You’re likely to find them working as a developer or UI/UX designer at an agency or company, or remotely as a freelancer.
Salary Range: $31,000 – $68,000 | Median: $45,000


This specialization is ideal for designers who enjoy, and are highly skilled, in drawing. These designers are all about visually communicating stories in two-dimensional form. The type of projects an illustrator can work on will vary depending on their branch in illustration. There are a variety of career paths to choose from: editorial, product, storyboard, fashion, technical, medical, and advertising. As for design tools, nothing tops the old-fashioned pencil and sketchbook, but programs like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop are extremely helpful for creating and digitizing artwork. Typically, these designers work for magazine companies and publishers, but it’s not unlikely to find an illustrator that works in the advertising industry, or simply freelances on their own.
Salary Range: $25,000 – $74,000 | Median: $44,000


Similarly to the illustration field, animators are skilled in visually communicating stories but they work to bring their illustrations to life…literally. These designers are also known as multimedia artists and create illustrations for movies, video and computer games, tv shows and commercials. It is important that they have technical skills that are just as strong as (if not stronger than) their ability to draw. So, in other words, if you want to be a successful animator, you should be able to create using both sides of your brain – the right for creativity and the left for technical design. Programs often used in this field include  Adobe Flash and AfterEffects, Maya and 3D Studio Max and you’re likely to find these designers working for video game and television companies, or as an independent artist.  
Salary Range:
$34,000 – $ 79,000 | Median: $50,000


Brand Identity Designer
Brand identity designers focus on creating visual elements that represents a company’s image and values. They approach their designs holistically, creating logos and establishing brand guidelines for typography, color schemes, imagery and other key visual elements. These designers know a successful brand is consistent across all platforms and always keep their brand in mind when designing business cards, packaging, advertisements, websites or any other types of marketing materials. Maintaining a consistent visual identity helps consumers recognize and trust the brand, which in turn, helps generate more business for the company. Having well-rounded graphic design skills is key for those in this industry, seeing as these designers work on a wide range of projects using the Adobe Creative Suite. Often someone in this field works as an in-house designer for a corporation or agency. 
Salary Range:
$29,000 – $59,000 | Median: $40,000


Package Designer
While you may not realize it, the packing of a product can greatly affect your decision to buy it. Package designers know their target audience and aim to create packages that appeal to them while still successfully containing the product. The types of packaging these designers work on can vary from bags and bottles, to boxes and wrappers. There are even times when the product is a unique shape and needs a custom container. No matter what the medium, these designers focus on creating legible and innovative design. Working in this field requires you to think in 3-D, and is ideal for those interested in 3-D modeling and working in a design firm or as a freelance designer.
Salary Range:
$34,000 – $72,000 | Median: $47,000


Advertising Designer
These designers can be compared to brand identity designers because they also focus on the brand of the company and how it is perceived by the consumer. With various projects in both print and digital design, designers in this field have projects such as tv and radio commercials, print ads, packaging and web banners. This field also ties into marketing since advertising plays such a huge role in what the consumer thinks about the brand. Someone in this field is well-rounded in graphic design as well as other skills such as time management and leadership. Advertising designers are responsible for meeting tight deadlines and directing the overall project. These graphic designers often work with on a team of designers, copywriters and marketers at an agency or corporation.
Salary Range:
$27,000 – $61,000 | Median: $41,000




Print or share the Graphic Designer Infographic to reference whenever you need to. Which graphic design field interests you the most?

Ariana Nicole
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