Student Info & Guide

So You Wanna Be a Graphic Designer

by on March 30, 2015 | Top Stories, Career Guide

The job of a graphic designer

Graphic designers use their creativity and their artistic skills to create designs to meet a variety of commercial and promotional needs for both print and online media such as advertisements, posters, leaflets and magazines. They also create graphics for packaging needs, logos, branding and exhibition displays.

Upon receiving the design brief from their supervisors, account managers or clients, graphic designers then use their abilities to come up with visual concepts to convey a message or to captivate consumers. The design brief covers the requirements of the job, the needs of the clients and the timeline to complete the job.

Graphic designers, through their combination of art and technology, as well as images and texts, develop sample layouts or designs for their clients' review. Some designs such as logos and branding concepts may require the graphic designers to do more research. At times, graphic designers may have to change or re-work on the designs and text after discussions with clients.

Once the design is approved, with all the amendments and changes done, graphic designers will proceed to prepare the final artwork in the file format required. For instance, designs for printing require a higher quality file compared to designs for use on the website. Having knowledge of the various file formats are essential for graphic designers to avoid delays at the printers and to provide clients with the suitable files for their needs.

Is this job for you?

If you have lots of creative ideas, and you enjoy using text and images to communicate with others, this could be the job for you. Graphic designers enjoy the challenge of coming up with attractive designs to captivate their audience's attention.

The interest code for this career is (Artistic, Realistic and Enterprising).

  • Artistic - 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.
  • Realistic - 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.
  • Enterprising - 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.

Work styles

Although being creative and artistic are key factors to becoming a graphic designer, there are several important attributes that are essential to help you become a better all-round graphic designer.

  • Being cooperative with your colleagues and showing a good-natured attitude to clients
  • Being thorough in completing the job, especially with the amendments and formats required
  • Shows flexibility by being open to changes and suggestions proposed by others regarding the design
  • Able to cope well in stressful situations especially when handling several design projects at the same time and rushing to complete deadlines
  • Able to work independently and taking the initiative to come up with solutions to meet the challenges of the job

Work values

Graphic Designer Independence is a work value that graphic designers seek as they appreciate being able to work on their own and to be given the opportunity to make their own decisions. Another work value that graphic designers appreciate is achievement, which gives them a feeling of accomplishment. They feel rewarded when they see the results of their work viewed by the public. It is also important for graphic designers that their job offers advancement, potential for leadership and prestige.

Work environment

Generally, graphic designers work in a studio or office which is equipped with computers, printers and the software required to create their designs. Full-time graphic designers work regular hours. However, they would have to put in extra hours while rushing to meet deadlines or coping with heavy workloads. Sometimes they may have to see clients or make a visit to the printers. The work schedule of freelance graphic designers would depend greatly on the projects they have and their commitment to their clients.

Places of Employment

Many graphic designers work in the advertising and publishing industry. They are also employed by companies specialising in marketing and corporate communications, as well as manufacturing companies which require designs for their packaging and branding needs. As for freelance graphic designers, they choose to work on their own, seeking clients and new projects.

Job Entry Requirement

Most jobs for graphic designers require a minimum qualification of a diploma in graphic design, arts/design or creative multimedia. Although you may become a graphic designer without having a formal education, the chances of getting an employer who offers training on the job is slim. Moreover, having qualifications make your career progression easier.

As jobs for graphic designers are very competitive, having a degree in graphic design would give you an extra advantage, especially when you learn the essential skills needed for the field of graphic designing. Graduates of graphic design usually have the opportunity to build their design portfolio during their study and take up internships to gain work experience.

To stay competitive in the industry, it is vital for graphic designers to keep up with new and updated design software and computer graphics.

Education and Training Qualifications:

  1. Certificate in Graphic Design
  2. Diploma in Graphic Design
  3. Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design

Find out where you can pursue a diploma, a degree at bachelor or master in graphic design on our website.

Watch this video to find out what it takes to be a graphic designer.

You can also watch this video ‘A day as a graphic designer'.


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