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What Qualifications Does A Graphic Designer Need?

Qualifications Needed to Become A Graphic Designer

Qualifications for being a graphic designer are constantly changing. For many years you needed at least an undergraduate degree to be able to get a job as one. These days you can take certain classes and be able to use the required programs and start doing graphic design work in no time at all. Read more to find out how long it takes to become a graphic designer and what qualifications you need for this career.

Graphic designers employ a wide range of digital tools, such as design and editing software. However, they may also utilize hand-drawn methods based on their style or preferences. If you’re interested in this profession, you might want to find out what qualifications you’ll need.

What qualifications does a graphic designer need? Some of the qualifications required to become a graphic designer include a high school diploma or GED and an updated portfolio. Additionally, further education or certifications can make you more marketable in this very competitive field.

Keep reading to learn more about becoming a graphic designer!

Education Requirements for Graphic Designers

The education requirements to become a graphic designer change with the constantly changing technologies and needs. Keeping a heads up on the requirements will help you stay ahead of the game.

What Qualifications Does A Graphic Designer Need

A High School Diploma Or GED

In order to get into a degree program for graphic design, you have to have your high school diploma or GED. Many graphic design programs are available to high school students.

Some community colleges offer associate degrees when you complete two years of study in this field. You can also become a graphic designer if you have good grades in art courses, but don’t necessarily need an art degree.

Completion of several certificates or diploma programs in graphic design. Many of these programs are available at community colleges. It may be possible to get financial aid if you’re planning to enroll in one of these programs, so look into that option too.

Many employers prefer hiring new graduates because it’s easier for them to train new designers than it is for them to work with someone who has experience.

Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree

A post-secondary degree from an accredited program is generally required to pursue a career as a graphic designer. An associate’s degree, which takes two years to complete, is available.

Individuals can look for these programs at both community colleges and four-year institutions. A bachelor’s degree program often includes a more extensive curriculum than an associate’s degree program.

Students who want to pursue a bachelor’s degree in graphic design should expect to study more than simply graphic design throughout their education. They may also be required to take courses in humanities, sciences, or mathematics themes in order to earn their diploma.

Master’s Degree

Most of the time you do not need to get a master’s degree for graphic design jobs, it can help candidates advance their careers and abilities. Online and in-person options are available, as well as a master’s program that takes about two years for full-time students to finish.

To specialize within the field, they can also pursue a master’s degree in a specific area of graphic design, such as multimedia, digital or print media, interactive media, or other areas. Graphic design is a field of study that offers students the opportunity to earn a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree.

An MA program focuses on more advanced graphic design and art theory. MFA programs focus on studio work and portfolios. These programs’ curricula are frequently linked to bachelor’s degrees in the fine arts.

Graphic design is a creative and ever-evolving field, and as such, many different types of people can find success in it. In general, graphic designers have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college or university.

Doctoral Degree

A doctoral degree is needed to work in research and development because it’s highly likely that you’ll need a doctorate if you want to make changes to the design industry. A Ph.D. program takes about four years and requires a dissertation at the end of the coursework.

What Qualifications Does A Graphic Designer Need

Current Experience Needed for Graphic Designers

Employers are looking for applicants with graphic design experience that is relevant to the position. They may prefer people with at least three years of expertise, for entry- or mid-level jobs.

Advanced, managerial, or directorial positions may need at least six years of experience. Students can get started contributing by working as interns or part-time employees at graphic design agencies or companies that hire designers for freelance projects.

Volunteering is also important with companies that give back to the community. It can be difficult for graphic designers to get their first jobs, and if they take internships, they may end up working for free at first.

Those who are committed to entering this field will need perseverance and patience as they work toward completing their degree program or gaining experience in the workforce.

An Updated Portfolio

Employers and clients usually require candidates to submit a portfolio when looking for graphic designers. A portfolio is a sampling of their most significant work. Applicants frequently upload their portfolio on a website and provide the link on their CV, as well as on social media sites like LinkedIn.

Individual pages on your website design may contain additional information about the candidate, such as “about me” or “frequently asked questions” sections. During the job-hunting process, there is a need to frequently update their portfolios to demonstrate recent and excellent work.

They may display work they’ve done for high-profile clients or earn accolades. They might also utilize their portfolio to show the breadth of service they can perform, displaying a bird’ eye view of their diverse talents and methods available. Graphic design professionals can also use their portfolios to show how they would approach specific projects if hired.

Graphic Design Certifications

To practice graphic design, you don’t need any certification or licensing. These specialists may seek certifications to demonstrate their abilities and competence to potential employers or clients.

Employers may seek applicants with substantial expertise in a certain design program, for example. Earning software vendor certification might indicate that you have the technical knowledge needed to utilize the application effectively. Certifications may also demonstrate that graphic designers are capable of working in accordance with industry best practices.

Graphic designers can typically get industry-specific qualifications from organizations like Abode or Autodesk. They might, for example, seek Abode, Autodesk, or Microsoft certifications. It would be beneficial to inquire about a candidate’s connections in the industry, as well.

Memberships to Certain Professional Associations

Belonging to professional organizations can assist you in improving your credentials and employment chances. Members of these associations receive a number of advantages and resources.

These may include training, education, certification, and networking opportunities. They may also post job openings or conduct research about the sector to assist individuals to develop their skills. Associations may differ depending on your interests or expertise in the field of graphic design.

While you may join these groups after working in the industry, some also have chapters on school campuses for students. The following are examples of relevant professional associations for graphic designers:

  • American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA)
  • Society for Experiential Graphic Designers (SEGD)
  • Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD)
  • Graphic Artists Guild (GAG)
  • Art Directors Club (ADC)
  • National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP)

Some of these associations might choose to list themselves in such categories as design, art, and technology. They may also describe themselves as having a mission to improve society. Many of these associations have local chapters that promote networking among graphic designers.

What Qualifications Does A Graphic Designer Need

Graphic Deisgner Salary Expectations

Graphic designers in the United States made a mean salary of $58,050 as of May 2017. The top 10 percent earned more than $100,000 each year. The median income for first-line supervisors was $70,260.

Entry-level applicants may start at around $20 per hour. Candidates with previous experience and doctorates might start at a higher rate. Salary ranges do differ, depending on the exact industry professionals work in.

Designers with extensive knowledge of relevant programs and design software can expect to earn more than those with rudimentary skills in this area. A candidate’s location may also affect his or her pay scale.

Work Experience Makes A Difference

This can indicate professionalism, however. Graphic designers who receive steady work for several years may demonstrate that they are reliable workers. An applicant’s portfolio of work may also reflect his or her abilities better than a resume.

Graphic design training and work experience qualify applicants for entry-level positions in this specialty. They can expect to compete for jobs at art schools, printing companies, or ad agencies. Graphic designers who are willing to relocate may need less formal training.

A Bachelor’s Degree Is Helpful

Having a bachelor’s degree in graphic design is often required for mid-level positions. Applicants can expect to face competition from experienced professionals if they wish to pursue management roles with greater responsibility.

Expertise in a specific type of design, such as medical or web design, is generally preferred. Graphic designers should show employers their abilities in design software when they apply for jobs.

A portfolio is also essential to demonstrate artistic talent and originality of thought. Applicants who have graduated from top schools are more likely to be hired than students with lower GPAs.


Graphic designers may need to invest time and effort in improving their profiles on social media, career websites, and professional networks. They might also seek certification or membership with particular associations that help them build their careers. Since technology is constantly changing, it can be important for graphic designers to keep up-to-date with the latest trends.

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