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So you think you might have what it takes to become a graphic designer? Where do you go from here?

Are you a creative person with some artistic flare? Do you have the "eye" for design and art? Are you a good problem solver? A career in graphic design and becoming a graphic designer might be just the right fit for you.

The Outlook for Graphic Designers in 2018

how to become a graphic designerThe whole landscape for the graphic designer is constantly changing, but this is a good thing. It brings forth new opportunities and markets that will need graphic designers. Devices like the iPad and other smart phones are shifting print media more towards purely digital. That's not to say that print media is dead completely. It does suggest that there are various opportunities for the graphic designer. Being open to this change is essential moving forward if you plan on being a part of the industry longer term.

Qualities of a graphic designer

If you plan on becoming a graphic designer that makes it, you're going to want to have certain qualities that will help you along.

Creativity is a very important factor for those wanting a career in design. Does this mean you have to be a great artist? While it can help, it's not necessary. Being able to paint and sketch can help for sure, but the important thing is to be able to problem solve and arrange design concepts in a creative way. There are graphic designers for example that are more into the photography side of things that couldn't sketch for their lives and still are amazing designers. It's all about creativity of vision, patience and visual problem solving.

Time to get educated...

Although there may be some that make it to the industry just by talent alone, most, if not all of us (I'm talking you and me here) need some sort of certificate or degree to land a job as a graphic designer. Many employers won't even bother to look at you if you lack the piece of paper that shows that you have been trained and seasoned by some sort of graphic design related program. Getting a degree or certificate doesn't reflect your talent, but it does show that you have a good firm base of knowledge and you take the industry seriously. So what are your training options?

There are many graphic design school program options across North America, Europe, and abroad that offers graphic design related degrees and programs. The range and scope of these programs all depend on what you want, and where you want to go. There are programs in multimedia, graphic design, visual communication, advertising, animation, web development, and so on. All have much of the same principles and structure at work, but they all can have a different slant. Often people lump these categories together into "graphic design". A multimedia program for example may focus more on the TV industry. Other programs may focus more on print or website development. Often there is some overlap with all of these kinds of programs, but they can be quite different. It's important though to know what slant the program has, and if you're happy with that slant.

educationWhat kind of program?

Short term certificate programs are a good start, but don't expect high end job right off the bat. Expect an entry level position where you will have to work your way up. There is NOTHING wrong with this approach. These programs are often 1 or 2 years. Just know what to expect when you walk out with your certificate in hand (or on wall). Longer term programs like a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree are often 3-4 years, and offer a more in-depth base to work from. Graduating from these programs give you a better chance of landing higher end jobs, but don't guarantee this result.

Both short and long term programs most often offer a work placement into a related business/studio during or after your studies. This is very important for gaining experience which is often required for landing your first job. Some students get lucky, and get hired from the place they are doing their work practicum. Other students might even get hired before they even finish their program. Often schools will have good relationships with the industry in their area, and keep these businesses informed about their students. Sometimes schools will mention the businesses that they keep in contact with.

It's also important to know what percentage of grads get hired after graduation. A low hire rate can often reflect a poor program, and should bring up a red flag.

What programs are offered in your area?

You can check out these schools and colleges in the US and Canada for a start. Getting this info will give you a good breakdown of the programs, and what you can expect to learn in a graphic design program. Getting prepared by learning more about the program will help you focus and be ready for what is going to be covered. The Art Institutes offer some good options for on campus training in the graphic design field and might be worth looking into.

Would you rather take a course from home? Are you too busy to go on campus somewhere? You can get a graphic design degree online is an option as well, although being in a physical classroom interacting with other students can be quite important.


Beyond this Site:

It's probably a good idea to have a strong reference of some kind in print. Some people like to call these things books. ; ) Instead of clicking through websites each time to get information, sometimes you just need something you can sit down with read, underline, dog ear... Don't be afraid to mark your book up. (Unless you have a library copy of course!) It's something you'll probably be coming back to again and again.

Becoming a Graphic Designer: A Guide to Careers in Design (Coursesmart)

by Teresa Fernandes

Paperback - 368 pages

There are others of course. Design magazines can also be a good source of information. "Publish", or "Print" magazine are good places to look. They often give you an idea of what the industry is doing and where it might go.


Make sure to also check out:

Graphic Design Schools
Picking the Right Graphic Design School
Graphic Design Job Descriptions
Illustration Jobs
Layout Artist Jobs
The Graphic Designer Salary





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