What can I do with a design degree?

If you’ve just graduated, or are still studying for your degree in design, you may be wondering just what kind of job you will end up with. If this is the case, then this guide is for you.

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Design students are typically creative and full of ideas. They’re likely to watch movie credits with interest and a critical eye, own Apple products and laugh at people who use Comic Sans – and they're also likely to have a range of skills that are highly valued in the graduate jobs market.

Skills for your CV

The skills that design graduates are likely to have to offer include:

  • logical thinking and problem-solving
  • project management
  • research and editorial skills
  • presentation and other communication skills
  • computer skills
  • hands-on project management
  • creativity
  • software skills
  • an eye for detail.

Job roles and career areas you could work in

Career options for design graduates include interactive media and video editing, landscape gardening, interior design and the following:

Job roles open to design graduates include the following:

What do design graduates go on to do?

Here’s what creative arts and design graduates who finished their degrees in 2018 were doing around fifteen months after graduating, according to the graduate outcomes statistics reported by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in 2020.

Destination Percentage
Full-time employment 47
Part-time employment 25
Voluntary or unpaid work 2
Working and studying 9
Further study 4
Unemployed 5

Source: HESA's higher education graduate outcomes statistics, 2020

Key areas of employment for design graduates

These are the top five areas of work taken up by 2018 creative arts and design graduates around fifteen months after graduating, according to the graduate outcomes statistics reported by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in 2020.

Areas of employment Percentage
Wholesale and retail trade 18
Arts, entertainment and recreation 17
Education 14
Professional, scientific and technical 12
Information and communication 11

Source: HESA's higher education graduate outcomes statistics, 2020

Which careers attract design students?

Media and advertising was the most popular career choice for creative arts and design students identified by a 2020 survey of more than 71,000 undergraduates carried out by Cibyl, a research business owned by the same company as TARGETjobs. Just over a tenth ( 10.9% ) of creative arts and design students who participated in the survey said they were interested in this area. The most popular career sectors for design students identified by the survey were as follows:

Career Percentage
Media and advertising 10.9% expressed an interest
Retail 10.5
Hospitality, leisure and tourism 8.7
Public service 7.2
IT and technology 6.2

Source: Graduate Survey 2020

What salaries can creative arts and design graduates earn?

Want to know what graduates in your degree discipline typically earn in different locations? The Pay Index has provided TARGETjobs with a handy graduate salary tool showing just that.

Famous people with design degrees

Plenty of design students have taken the subject in different directions. Consider these examples:

  • Alan Rickman – famous as the Hogwarts potions teacher, but actually set up his own design agency before becoming an actor.
  • Freddie Mercury – studied art and graphic design, later becoming the lead singer of Queen and designing the band’s logo.
  • Peter Capaldi - studied at the Glasgow School of Art before pursuing an acting career that has included playing the twelfth Doctor in Doctor Who .

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