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Career profile Graphic Designer

Also known as Artist, Designer, Graphic Artist, Graphic Designer, Online Producer, Production Artist, Publications Designer

Graphic Designer

Also known as Artist, Designer, Graphic Artist

Interests Profile
  • Artistic
  • Realistic
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$31,720 - $93,440 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Active Listening
  • Speaking
  • Critical Thinking
Knowledge Areas
  • Design
  • Communications and Media
  • Fine Arts
Core tasks
  • Determine size and arrangement of illustrative material and copy, and select style and size of type.
  • Confer with clients to discuss and determine layout design.
  • Create designs, concepts, and sample layouts, based on knowledge of layout principles and esthetic design concepts.
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What does a Graphic Designer do?

Graphic Designers design or create graphics to meet specific commercial or promotional needs, such as packaging, displays, or logos.

In addition, Graphic Designers may use a variety of mediums to achieve artistic or decorative effects.

What kind of tasks does a Graphic Designer perform regularly?

Graphic Designers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Determine size and arrangement of illustrative material and copy, and select style and size of type.
  • Confer with clients to discuss and determine layout design.
  • Create designs, concepts, and sample layouts, based on knowledge of layout principles and esthetic design concepts.
  • Develop graphics and layouts for product illustrations, company logos, and Web sites.
  • Use computer software to generate new images.
  • Review final layouts and suggest improvements, as needed.
  • Maintain archive of images, photos, or previous work products.
  • Prepare illustrations or rough sketches of material, discussing them with clients or supervisors and making necessary changes.
  • Draw and print charts, graphs, illustrations, and other artwork, using computer.
  • Key information into computer equipment to create layouts for client or supervisor.
  • Research new software or design concepts.
  • Study illustrations and photographs to plan presentation of materials, products, or services.

The above responsibilities are specific to Graphic Designers. More generally, Graphic Designers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Thinking Creatively
Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

What is a Graphic Designer salary?

The median salary for a Graphic Designer is $53,380, and the average salary is $58,370. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Graphic Designer salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Graphic Designers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Graphic Designers earn less than $31,720 per year, 25% earn less than $40,160, 75% earn less than $71,310, and 90% earn less than $93,440.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Graphic Designers is expected to change by 2.9%, and there should be roughly 23,900 open positions for Graphic Designers every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$31,720 - $93,440
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Graphic Designers?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Graphic Designer are usually higher in their Artistic, Realistic, and Enterprising interests.

Graphic Designers typically have very strong Artistic interests. Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Also, Graphic Designers typically have moderate Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Lastly, Graphic Designers typically have moderate Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Graphic Designer tend to value Achievement, Independence, and Recognition.

Most importantly, Graphic Designers strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Second, Graphic Designers strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Graphic Designers moderately value Recognition. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Graphic Designers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, innovation, and initiative.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Graphic Designers, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.

What education and training do Graphic Designers need?

Many Graphic Designers will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Graphic Designers usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Graphic Designers

  • 1.3% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 5.4% completed high school or secondary school
  • 13.8% completed some college coursework
  • 12.3% earned a Associate's degree
  • 58.8% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 7.1% earned a Master's degree
  • 1.3% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Graphic Designers

Graphic Designers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as design, communications and media, or fine arts knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Graphic Designers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Communications and Media
Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
Fine Arts
Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

Important Abilities needed by Graphic Designers

Graphic Designers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Graphic Designers need abilities such as originality, near vision, and fluency of ideas in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Graphic Designers, ranked by their relative importance.

The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Fluency of Ideas
The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

Critical Skills needed by Graphic Designers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Graphic Designers frequently use skills like active listening, speaking, and critical thinking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Graphic Designers, ranked by their relative importance.

Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Learning
Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.