Job descriptions and industry overviews

Graphic designer: job description

21 Jun 2023, 15:38

Graphic designers create visual communications such as adverts, branding, publicity materials and magazine layouts.

The picture shows an iPhone, sketchpad and design textbook, highlighting the graphic design skills needed for a job.

Graphic designers (who may also be known as graphic artists) utilise graphic design skills to create media products such as magazines, labels, advertising and signage.

Typical responsibilities | Salaries | Typical employers | Qualifications and training required | Skills required

Graphic design skills usually include the use of software such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign but many can also draw and design by hand and use these skills to create rough sketches and mock ups.

Typical responsibilities include:

  • liaising with clients to determine their requirements, timescale and budget.
  • managing client proposals from typesetting through to graphic design, print and production.
  • working with clients’ ideas and managing their expectations.
  • developing concepts, graphics and layouts, including making decisions about fonts, images, readability and readers’ needs.
  • determining size and arrangement of copy and illustrative material, as well as font style and size.
  • preparing rough drafts of material based on an agreed brief.
  • keeping clients up to date, listening to and acting on feedback, and explaining the rationale behind graphic design decisions.
  • reviewing final layouts and suggesting improvements if required.
  • keeping up to date with design and software trends.
  • liaising with external printers or production teams to ensure deadlines are met and material is printed or presented to the highest quality.

In-house graphic designers work mainly typical office hours but may need to work longer when deadlines are approaching. You can also work as a freelance graphic designer and set your own hours but again, these are likely to be longer when projects are due.

Graduate graphic designer salaries

Junior graphic designers are likely to earn between £15,000 and £20,000, according to the Shillington graphic design bootcamp although you’ll earn more in London. As you progress, you could earn up to £50,000 as a senior graphic designer, according to the job survey website Glassdoor.

Typical employers of graphic designers

  • Advertising agencies.
  • Architectural and interior design practices.
  • Large print houses.
  • Brand agencies.
  • Signage companies.
  • Book, magazine and newspaper publishers.
  • Multimedia companies.
  • Television and broadcasting companies.
  • The packaging industry.
  • In-house graphic design services of major national and international organisations and companies.

Graduate graphic design jobs , marketing graduate jobs and media graduate jobs are advertised on, on specialist sites such as and and on general job sites. You can build experience through gig work via sites such as upwork .

    Qualifications and training required for graphic designers

    While entry is open to non-graduates, preference is given to those with relevant degrees, which include art and design subjects as well as graphic design. A postgraduate qualification could help you build specialist graphic design skills.

    Employers will expect a good working knowledge of design software such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop.

    You will need work experience and a portfolio to show employers during the application process. Use gig work, holiday jobs, involvement in clubs and societies, voluntary work and internships as opportunities to create examples to include in your portfolio, aiming to showcase the software you can use and your skill in using it.

    Key skills for graphic designers

    • Excellent IT skills, especially with design and photo-editing software.
    • Exceptional creativity and innovation.
    • Excellent time management and organisational skills.
    • Accuracy and attention to detail.
    • An understanding of the latest trends and their role within a commercial environment.
    • Professional approach to time, costs and deadlines.

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