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Graphic Design as a Career

Graphic design is a creative process, combining art and technology to communicate ideas visually. If you have the ability to think in pictures and have an interest in software design programs, graphic design may be a great career choice for you.

A career in graphic design can be a highly flexible option for you if you have an interest in digital art and a strong desire to think creatively. Graphic designers typically need a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field; however, those with a bachelor’s degree in another field may pursue technical training in graphic design to meet most hiring qualifications.

Certification programs are often available through software product vendors. Certification in graphic design software can demonstrate competence level and may give you a competitive advantage over other job seekers.

Categories of graphic design

Graphic design work typically falls into two major categories that require varying skill sets.

Print design. Graphic designers create designs for marketing materials including logos, brochures, posters, websites and more. They typically create the initial design and often manage the project to completion, incorporating work from photographers, illustrators and copywriters. Editorial designers also work in the print realm, teaming with writers, editors and photographers to create a balance between text and graphics for newspapers, magazines, book covers and promotional materials.

Digital and web design. Digital designers create digital versions of traditional print-based marketing materials and because of the internet, many graphic designers specialize in creating designs for websites and have experience with HTML and CSS programming languages. Digital designers also create animations for advertisements or videos.

Finding employment as a graphic designer

Graphic design can be a flexible and portable career option for military spouses because of the variety of graphic design services. You can find a position working as an employee, or you may choose to freelance or contract your design services to employers or individuals. As a graphic designer, you can also start a business designing T-shirts, wedding invitations, logos, websites or a wide range of other applications. Whatever route you decide to take, it is critical to build a portfolio of your work to sell your services to corporations and clients.

If you are searching for employment as a graphic designer, the Military Spouse Employment Partnership Job Search is a great place to start. The MSEP partner companies and organizations are interested in hiring military spouses to fill their open positions. Below are a few of the partner companies and organizations with open graphic design positions on the MSEP Job Search:

Other good sources of job opportunities and information on companies that hire graphic artists are My Skills, My Future and the CareerOneStop Job Bank for your state.

Don’t forget to connect with associations of graphic designers. These associations are excellent sources for networking opportunities and allow you to search for job openings and post information about your graphic design services.

Starting a graphic design business

One of the challenges when starting your own business is finding clients willing to pay for your work. Networking is critical, so learn to communicate with others in the business, including other graphic designers. They may be able to use your talents on assignments or refer you to others who need your skills. You may want to visit Blue Star Careers to investigate freelance or contract graphic design assignments to help you jumpstart your business. Don't forget about government contractors looking for small business participation as potential partners or clients.

Having your own graphic design business may make sense to you because it gives you the flexibility to do the following:

  • Determine the hours you work
  • Accept the work you want
  • Create a referral network
  • Grow your business at a pace that fits your mobile military life

Use your available resources to help you start and build your graphic design business. The Small Business Administration and SCORE offer information, resources and mentorship to people interested in small business ownership. You can also visit the Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment section of the Employment Readiness lifecycle stage of MySECO to explore what it takes to start your own business. 

If you are considering a career in graphic design, use the Research Occupations on MySECO tool to find additional information on careers. Search for the keyword “graphic design” and then research schools using the College Scorecard. You can also use the Scholarship Finder to locate funding for your education. Speak with a SECO career coach or use the Live Chat feature on MySECO at 800-342-9647 to discuss your questions or concerns.

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