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The graphic design industry is extremely competitive in all senses. After all, there are more than half a million graphic designers contributing to the industry on a global scale. So, landing a fantastic graphic design job can be challenging, especially if you’re looking for a long-term opportunity.
In this step-by-step guide, you’ll find everything you need to know on getting a job as a graphic designer including valuable tips on finding a job for multiple environments, whether it be a traditional office job, remote job, or hybrid environment.
Finally, you’ll find information about getting your first graphic design job, pitching your skills in an interview, some frequently asked questions, and where to find the most profitable opportunities.
Let’s dive in!
Landing a Graphic Design Job With Our Step-by-Step Guide
Before going over the steps to landing a graphic design job, it’s important to note that all designers are different. From the qualifications you have to the style you bring to the table, there are many elements that make you a unique professional.
Consider your own circumstances and the types of design you gravitate towards then decide the best course of action based on your specific requirements.
1. Sharpen Your Skills
Like all other professionals, graphic designers are expected to demonstrate their skills.
Instead of waiting until you’re on the spot, take the time to practice and hone your craft beforehand. Pay close attention to areas you’ve struggled with before.
Some areas you can work on include creating your own vectors, maintaining congruency in a design, and capturing emotions with the right graphics.
2. Consider Formal Training
Nicholas Moegly, Andre Barnes, Jessica Walsh — many of the world’s best graphic designers have taught themselves everything they know. It’s entirely possible to learn from non-accredited graphic design courses online.
Yet, it’s also worth considering formal training as this can cut your learning time by a significant margin and give a boost in credibility when it comes to employment.
Formal training can be either completing a four-year degree or learning from reputable online programs that are used by employers to help advance the skills of their own graphic design employees.
Today, you can find short and long-term design courses created by official institutions, experienced designers, and other reputable entities. Evaluate each course and choose one that meets your personal requirements, like timeframe and budget.
3. Monitor New Trends & Leading Designers
The graphic design industry is in a constant state of flux. From the technology that powers design tools to the styles implemented in each piece, all of the elements within the industry are always changing.
As a graphic designer, it’s vital to stay updated with the latest trends. Besides following our blog Line25, it’s a good idea to review leading publications and see what the influencers and professional leaders in graphic design are working on.
4. Create the Right Setup
Graphic design is a relatively new career option in our advancing world of technology that requires advanced tools. Without them, it’s hard to gain inspiration and even harder to put designs together.
This means that you need to have the right setup, especially if you’re applying for a job remotely. Here are some of the basic elements you’ll want to acquire before filling out any applications:
- A powerful computer with enough memory
- One or more ultra-high-definition monitors
- Pen and paper
- Design apps and software like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
- A quality stylus and graphic design tablet
- A reliable smartphone with a decent camera
- A color space reference
- Plenty of cloud and desktop storage
5. Put Together a Stellar Portfolio
Here’s how to make the best first impression – put together a portfolio that features your best work. This can be challenging for any designer, especially professionals with little to no experience in the field.
If necessary, take the time to create pieces specifically for your portfolio. This is a common practice, but you should avoid cutting corners or taking shortcuts during this process. For inspiration and example portfolios, you should see what other designers are doing currently with their own graphic design portfolios displayed online.
Remember, in this digital age, a website must showcase your portfolio and many companies prefer to view your work online first. You can use a website builder that’s free to start like Editor X or WiX.
Try not to get caught up on the technical part of creating your portfolio, but just get it started. Keeping things simple and minimalistic can be better so that your work can shine.
There are both free graphic design portfolio website templates as well as premium options. Just make sure that your online portfolio does not have clutter and advertising distractions or branding from the website builder you choose. This can come across as unprofessional looking with the assumption that your future work will display these distractions.
6. Apply for Jobs & Practice for Interviews
Now that you have everything else covered, it’s time to look for jobs and fill out some applications.
Opportunities for designers can be limited based on their location. Instead of limiting yourself to the local market, you can change IP with a VPN and check out the job posts in other cities.
This is a great option for designers who want to work remotely. At the same time, a VPN can help you search for jobs in a new city before you move there and help you decide whether you should consider relocating or working remotely.
Getting A Graphic Design Job Without Prior Experience
Breaking into any scene and landing your first graphic design job without prior experience or some form of help is a massive challenge.
Even so, countless designers manage to emerge from anonymity and establish themselves every year. Here are some tips to help you get into graphic design without any prior experience:
- Polish your skills well before you start promoting yourself
- Create a portfolio you are proud of, and don’t stop updating it
- Stay patient, and don’t feel discouraged by your initial interviews
- Maintain a positive attitude in interviews
- Don’t oversell yourself or your skill set.
Professionals in the graphic design industry have mixed backgrounds. Some received formal training, while others develop their skills on their own time as DIY designers.
Access School Resources & Benefits
Some educational institutions provide assistance with job placement. After completing a formal course with an accredited school or course provider, designers usually receive resources to help them find jobs (aka; job placement) in agencies and other businesses.
This leads to a traditional hire path, which includes an application, interview, and contract-signing process.
Seek Design Opportunities With Current Employer
Self-taught, or DIY designers don’t always have the resources available to assist with job placement. But, many choose to branch out from their careers, sometimes getting opportunities to take on design work in their current workplace. This is can fast-track the work experience needed for your resume and portfolio.
Find Side Gigs to Rack Up The Experience
There are always opportunities to work as a freelance designer with small local businesses that need professional design work at competitive prices. This is can be a great way to get some experience while keeping your design skills fresh as well as earning some money.
How to Pitch Yourself as a Graphic Designer
Here is where you can make yourself shine in the interview, and not just by showing your portfolio, but by how you carry yourself along with your attitude.
Your Portfolio Will Do Much of The Work
As mentioned already, your portfolio is your introductory card, so pay close attention to detail and make sure it lays the foundation for a great interview. This is where you’ll show “proof” of your abilities and special talents.
Be Positive & Confident in Your Design Skills
During the interview process, pitch yourself as a positive asset, mention the importance of collaboration, and highlight the fact you’re a team player. This will reassure potential employers that your intangible skills match the strength of your portfolio.
Be confident, but don’t come across as arrogant or overconfident. This can turn people away. Also, smile. It’s a fact that smiling can be contagious and draw people toward you. A nice smile also displays characteristics of being trustworthy and positive.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s always a good idea to reach out to other designers who have been through the steps you have for some helpful advice. In the meantime, implement the guide points we’ve outlined in this post. Also, take a look at these frequently asked questions.
Do graphic designers get paid upfront?
Graphic designers get paid upfront in some instances. For example, it’s common when working directly with clients. When a designer has a direct contract, this professional may require a prepayment or retainer. This depends on the agreement.
However, when working for an agency, it’s common to establish a conventional business relationship. In other words, designers get paid a salary periodically after working a certain number of days. This varies from one to four weeks in the vast majority of cases.
Which country pays the most for graphic design?
From the images on packaged goods to the visual elements found on websites, designers are responsible for a huge number of the elements we see every day. But, it’s important to note that the revenue of these professionals varies tremendously based on their location.
- Switzerland $17,000 – $90,000
- United States $30,000 – $67,000
- Finland $20,000 – $40,000
- United Arab Emirates $2,000 – $40,000
- Germany $35,000 – $45,000
Do graphic designers have to be artists’?
Having an artist’s eye will definitely give you a step above other designers. Many design jobs require a good working knowledge of graphic design tools such as programs, apps, and software. If you can master the tools, there will be more opportunities to get into the industry and work on your artistic and creative understanding of shapes, dimensions, colors, shading, lighting, patterns, fonts, and typography.
What are common problems graphic designers face?
There are some common challenges that designers face, but there are ways of overcoming these with some practical solutions you can read about in our post on Common Problems Graphic Designers Face and How to Solve Them.
Here are just a few problems designers face:
- Keeping up with current design trends
- Understanding what the design requirements are
- Inefficient communication and workflow
- Understanding typography and fonts
- Creating designs that convert to sales and leads
- Keeping up with all areas of design (print, digital, packaging, website design, and so on)
Becoming a graphic designer is a unique journey for each professional and can be very rewarding and fulfilling. There are many variables you need to pay close attention to in order to land a design job, especially if you’re applying at a distance.
Nevertheless, you should be able to achieve your goal as long as you take an organized approach and consider the tips we’ve shared with you here.
All the best on your journey to landing a graphic design job and please leave a comment below to let us know how it all turns out!