How to Become a Graphic Designer

graphic designers discussing a project

Are you a creative person? Creativity is an in-demand skill that can lead to a rewarding career path. Becoming a graphic designer is a wonderful option if you’re interested in using your creativity and eye for design to make the world a better place. But how exactly can you become a graphic designer? Along with finding the right school to get your graphic design degree, you can take some steps now to become an appealing candidate when it’s time to start looking for graphic design jobs.

Start as Soon as You Can

If you’re still in high school, start looking for ways to hone your graphic design skills now. Does your school have a newspaper, blog, social media feed or website? Find out how to become a part of these projects – or start your own – so you can gain experience. Enroll in some art, photography and computer classes. If they’re not offered at your school, many art centers and community colleges offer short courses in these basic skills. They’ll help you build a strong foundation before a graphic design program and broaden your social network, which can help with your graphic design future.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Most job listings in graphic design require a bachelor’s degree, so you’ll want to find a graphic design degree program to deliver the skills and knowledge to pursue this exciting career. You might study creative concept development, creative copywriting techniques, image creation and manipulation and the core principles of design. You’ll also gain experience using the same graphic design software that you’ll likely encounter on the job, and soft skills like the art of persuasion and pitching a concept. In just a few short years you can develop the graphic design skills that will make you stand out from other applicants when you start your job search.

Look for Internships

While you’re earning your graphic design degree, you can look for internship opportunities to gain real-life working experience. You can look online to find opportunities with various local organizations and companies, but you’ve probably heard that it’s not what you know that counts, it’s who you know. Your professors, classmates, program alumni and guest critics are all great sources for internship leads. While internships can be both paid and uncompensated, it’s important to remember that you’ll gain more than just financial rewards—internships typically provide valuable experience and networking opportunities that can further your advertising design career.

Find Local Communities for Designers and Artists

It’s helpful to join a community of graphic designers and other artists, whether this community is in-person or online. While you’re still earning your degree, you can look for clubs and professional organizations made up of your fellow students. Volunteering at local design community events is a great way to give back and promote your personal brand. Even after graduating, these types of communities can provide countless benefits. You’ll be able to meet others in the industry and learn about job opportunities that might interest you. You can share your skills with others and learn from those who are on the same career path as you.

Build Your Design Portfolio

Potential clients and agencies will look at your portfolio to determine whether or not you’re a good fit for them. It’s never too early to start working on your portfolio, so start noting which pieces you want to include as you complete them. Show off your very best work while also showcasing a variety of styles so that potential clients can see your entire skill set. Your portfolio can include personal projects, unpaid work or work you have created for clients in the past. Ask your internship supervisor if you may include the work you created for them, and how it should be credited if it was group work. Try to include five to seven pieces and update your portfolio to reflect current technology, trends and your career interests. Local design organizations frequently hold portfolio review events where you can get unbiased feedback about what to include and how to best present it.

Apply for Jobs

After earning your graphic design degree and building a strong portfolio, you’ll be ready to start applying for jobs. First, you’ll need a website, blog or various social media profiles to help brand yourself and showcase your skills to potential clients. Then you can use the internet to look for graphic arts job opportunities or even start out on your own with freelance work. Work the social network you built up during school to find out about hot new leads. Keep applying for any positions you’re qualified for until you find one that you love. Lastly, keep learning and pay it forward. It won’t be long before you might be supervising an intern of your own!

Consider pursuing a graphic design program at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona! Our College of Fine Arts and Production offers a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Graphic Design, which can help prepare you for a career as a professional graphic designer, art director, production artist, creative services specialist or a variety of other careers relating to graphic design. Click the Request Info button at the top of this page if you would like to learn more about our performing arts and digital arts degree programs.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.