What does an entry level graphic designer do?

A graphic designer turns ideas into visual designs. They construct posters, billboards, logos, magazine layouts, social media graphics, motion graphics, marketing materials, and videos.

Not only do graphic designers do the designing, but they have to explain why they did those designs.

Most graphic designers will major in graphic design and realize their passion for it. Many work in and major in related fields like digital marketing, journalism, and social media.

Junior graphic designers are problem solvers that communicate through visual mediums. In other words, they create and employ type, images, animations, and other design elements to help communicate ideas, advertisements, products, interfaces, and more. Another related, potentially confusing term is “visual design”. While graphic and visual design have subtle differences, they are very similar design disciplines in the current employment market.

What is an Entry-Level Graphic Designer?

It’s common for entry-level graphic designers to go 1 of 2 routes: join an agency, or work for a company that produces a product (in-house).

Agency designers typically work on a multitude of projects for a diverse group of clients. The beginning roles are often production related, requiring a designer to spend their days in Photoshop or Illustrator churning tweaking mockups, photos, and minute illustrations.

In-house designers typically work on a single company’s product, marketing or advertising teams. They are often responsible for the visual communication of the company’s product or service on their website, in written publications, on social media, and most other channels.

It’s easy to get confused by all of the different types of design jobs available to recent grads. Here is a good guide

  • To help you differentiate between the available careers.
  • Common Responsibilities of Entry-Level Graphic Designers
  • Some primary tasks include things like:
  • Creating or editing illustrations in Illustrator.
  • Building compositions with type and imagery for advertising.
  • Developing brand language and guidelines for companies to use to communicate their brand.
  • Creating a visual system to convey emotion and feeling through an interface (UI).
  • Implementing visual designs in CSS on the internet for clients / companies.

Types of Entry-Level Graphic Design Jobs

As long as you stick strictly to the terms “Entry-Level Graphic Designer”, you’re not going to find too many different types of jobs. The primary differences you’ll notice are agency versus in-house (as mentioned above), and the medium on which you’ll produce your work. Some companies are purely digital (e.g. tech startups) and will have you working fully digitally. Other companies will still work at least partially in print (e.g. publications) and you’ll be spending time in InDesign or similar programs as well.

If you step outside of the strict search terms, you’ll find there are several ways to search for relevant roles, for example:

  • Visual Designer
  • Production Designer
  • Digital Designer
  • Designer
  • Agency Designer

Salary Expectations

The median salary for entry-level graphic designers is $39,645.

The range is $29,674 – $54,421.                               

Location is one the largest factors in calculating salary, so it’s particularly helpful to consider the entire salary range.

The Bureau of Labor expects the number of graphic design jobs to grow by only 1% over the next 10 years.

Who Typically Gets These Jobs

Every year, we survey over 20,000 students and recent grads in an effort to understand the internship and entry-level job market. Based on the results of our State of Hiring report, the students or recent graduates that apply to these entry-level jobs have several things in common:

While many students are willing to look at jobs unrelated to their major, graphic design majors are not. 80% of them only want to consider design jobs. However, getting a full-time design job is hard. 43% of recent graduates currently employed are not working in a design role.

New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle are the most popular destination for graphic design grads.

  • Graphic design majors often work side jobs during course graphic design. Over 80% have had a paid side job. Employers see this as a major benefit when looking to hire a new employee.
  • Only 26% of graduating seniors majoring in graphic design have no internship experience.
  • 54% have taken a computer science course.
  • Most graphic design students expect to have between $25,000 and $75,000 in debt when they graduate.
  • Almost 40% of seniors majoring in graphic design have taken an online course related to their major.

Portfolio and Websites for Graphic Design

To showcase the best graphic design work, a graphic designer can create both a portfolio and a website. Some opt for one or the other but having both is optimal.

To create a website, use software like WordPress and Wix. They offer upgrades for better features. Some go with a paid service right away such as Squarespace and Format. By building this website, it shows a graphic designer’s ability to be a web designer and utilize the website design software.

Some opt for more creative portfolios such as Pinterest boards to showcase their work, but others put it together in a pdf in Adobe InDesign or Canva.

Another form of showing off graphic design work is through LinkedIn.

General tips for portfolios and websites are to use the best and most important work you have. Show and do not tell but also show the process.

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