Graphic designers create visual designs for materials that are seen by a company’s customers or audience (such as websites, advertising material and shop displays)
From logos and menus, to product packaging and display adverts, they use computer-aided design software, photographs and drawings to create eye-catching images in line with a brief set by a company or client.
This detailed guide features a complete graphic designer job description and everything else you need to know about graphic designers, including average salaries, skills, qualifications and more.
- Graphic designer job description
- How much do graphic designers earn?
- What does a graphic designer do?
- Requirements, skills and qualifications
- Who employs graphic designers?
- Which junior jobs progress to graphic designer roles?
Graphic designer job description
Graphic designer | Click Creative
About Click Creative
We’re an award-winning agency of 50 digital marketing, design and development experts who help brands of all shapes and sizes realise their potential online through results-driven, bespoke solutions.
About the role
We’re looking for a creative and passionate full-time Graphic Designer to join our creative team. Reporting to our senior designers, you will create a variety of internal and client facing visual designs, concepts and content, in a fast-paced and collaborative environment.
- Meeting clients with account managers to discuss objectives, requirements and required outcomes of every design project
- Designing a wide range of campaign materials for online and offline client campaigns such as logos, product packaging, websites and menus
- Creating initial design concepts through brainstorming, sketching and computer design software
- Finalising design work with design software such as Illustrator and Photoshop
- Advising clients on best practice design features, colour schemes and user experience
- Seeing projects through from initial brief to finished artwork, always meeting agreed deadlines
- Providing high quality retouching, cleaning and editing of client images and photography
- Supporting client’s brand consistency through the development and implementation of brand guidelines and stylistic guides
- Designing and developing a range of digital and creative visual content to support the marketing and advertising activities of Click Creative
Location & commitments
- Permanent, full-time role based at our modern office in Brighton
- 5 hours per week, Monday-Friday with flexi-time available
- Overtime may occasionally be required to meet project deadlines
- Option to work from home 2 days per week after probation period
- 2+ years experience in graphic design — agency side, in-house or freelance considered
- A complete portfolio of graphic and digital design work
- Experience of using varied design software and technology, including Adobe InDesign, Reader, Photoshop, Illustrator and Dreamweaver
- Strong ability to work at pace whilst still achieving a high level of accuracy
- A relevant higher education qualification in design will be highly advantageous
Contact us to apply
Send your full CV, a cover letter and a link to your online portfolio to our recruitment manager, Sarah Smith, at firstname.lastname@example.org, as soon as possible.
How much do graphic designers earn?
The average graphic designer salary sits just under the national average at £29,000.
Graduate and junior designer salaries are generally low — averaging at £19k — but can increase quickly with experience and with promotion into senior designer roles.
Graphic designer salaries in the UK
- Low: £25,000
- Average: £29,000
- High: £37,500
Graphic designer salaries will vary hugely depending on:
- The type of employment – Graphic designers can work in-house for a company, as part of a marketing or design agency, or as a freelance contractor, which inevitably brings large variations in salary
- The size of the employer – In-house designers for large global brands are likely to earn a more generous salary than designers working for a start-up brand or agency
- Candidate experience and portfolio – With more experience, recommendations and testimonials, as well a well-developed portfolio, salaries and day rates increase
For example, a senior graphic designer working in-house for a global commercial brand in London, will normally earn more than a junior graphic designer working for a small local agency outside of the capital.
The average figures above are taken from job advert samples, so do not include extra benefits like bonuses and overtime and non-financial benefits, such as flexible or remote working options.
What does a graphic designer do?
Graphic designers create a wide range of visual designs and their job descriptions typically include a range of the following task and duties:
- Developing brand guidelines – Developing a set of brand guidelines (a set of design rules to help ensure consistency) and driving the wider creative direction for the company or client
- Taking briefs – Understanding and interpreting briefs set by clients which determine the project requirements, timescales and budgets of design projects
- Developing concepts – Developing suitable design concepts, styles, layouts, fonts and formats to clients/managers, in line with the brief – via hand drawing or computer design tools
- Preparing drafts – Developing rough drafts of work, via hand or computer, and presenting to clients/managers for feedback before finalising designs
- Using CAD tools and software – Using a range of photography, graphic, illustration and multimedia software packages and tools to develop designs
- Presenting final outcomes – Refining finalised ideas, designs and concepts and presenting them to clients or managers
- Amending designs – Gaining feedback from clients/managers and adjusting designs to their needs
Some of the most common design tasks include:
- Logo design – Designing eye-catching logos (a small image that identifies a business) for clients
- Typography – Picking or designing suitable typefaces (fonts) for websites, graphics and marketing materials
- Print media – Creating layouts and graphics for publications such as books, newspapers, magazines and catalogues
- Marketing materials design – Working with marketing staff to create designs for marketing strategies and campaigns, such as posters, brochures and signage
- Product packaging design – Designing and developing product packaging, such as boxes, bottles and bags
- Website design – Designing layouts, images, graphics and banners for use on websites
- Social media design – Working with social media managers to create images, animations, gifs, profile pictures and cover images for social media
- Photo editing – Editing, cleaning and manipulating photographs for use on graphics
What do graphic designers need?
In order to gain a graphic designer role, a range of skills, software knowledge and, sometimes, qualifications are required.
The specific requirements will depend on the job level, as well as the type (in-house vs agency) and industry (e-commerce, corporate, charity etc) of the employer, but typically, here’s what is needed:
Junior/graduate graphic designer jobs vary in terms of experience requirements.
Many employers will consider applicants without formal full-time experience, but most will still expect to see a complete portfolio of graphic design work.
Some employers will expect applicants to have gained experience via an internship or placement, or at least had exposure to a live design project in a freelance/voluntary capacity.
Mid-level graphic designer jobs will normally require candidates to have 2-3 years of graphic design experience, either in an agency or in-house, along with a varied portfolio of work.
Most employers will also consider designers from a freelance background, as long as they can showcase an excellent portfolio and recommendations.
Senior-level graphic designer jobs will normally require applicants to have gained around 5 years of experience in the graphic design field, alongside an exceptional portfolio.
If the role is specialist (typography, print media, packaging design etc), candidates will be expected to have gained significant experience within the specialism. Additionally, sector-specific experience (for example, design for the fashion industry) may be required for in-house roles.
Graphic designer skills
In order to succeed in the role, graphic designers should possess the following skills and competencies:
- Communication: Confidently communicating and articulating ideas to a range of companies, clients and colleagues
- Creativity: Having a visual eye and generating unique and innovative ideas and designs for clients
- Design software knowledge: Using a range of design and photo-editing software to create designs, such as Adobe Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator
- Design principles: Knowledge of the five design principles — alignment, repetition, contrast, hierarchy and balance
- Colour theory: Knowledge of how to contrast, mix and utilise different colours for maximum impact
- Branding: Understanding how to make a brand recognisable and memorable through colours, typography, logos and design
- Typography: Understanding how to effectively make and utilise fonts and font families
- Photo editing: Carrying out photo cleanup work, image manipulation and enhancements for designs
- Attention to detail: Pinpointing design mistakes and thoroughly examining every element of each design
- Time management: Juggling multiple assignments at once whilst meeting all deadlines
- Presentation: Presenting ideas and findings to clients and colleagues in a clear, digestible way
Graphic designer qualifications
Qualifications are generally favoured, but not always essential, to gain employment as a graphic designer.
The majority of roles do require a degree, HND or other higher qualification in graphic design. However, for those without formal training, it’s still possible to gain an entry-level role after developing a portfolio of work and gaining some experience of working on live projects.
There are many recognised graphic design courses across the profession, which will put applicants in good stead to achieving a role and progressing within the industry. These include:
Design degree or HND
While not always essential, many graphic designers hold a masters, bachelors or HND degree in a design subject.
As well as teaching students a broad range of graphic design skills and allowing them to develop a varied portfolio, degree courses also provide the chance to work on a range of live client briefs and projects — setting graduates up well for employment and progression within the industry.
While graphic design is the most logical route, the following subjects can also help to kickstart a career in the sector:
- Fine art
- Art and design
- 3D design
- Visual communication
- Digital media
Short graphic design courses
For those who don’t want to take the degree-route, or for career-changers looking to move into the sector, vocational graphic design courses are a great way to hone the necessary skills to become a graphic designer.
Popular options include:
- Graphic Design For Beginners (Online Short Course) by the University of the Arts London
- Graphic Design by Alison.com
- Graphic Design Specialization by CALARTS
- Graphic Design Short Course by Shillington College
- Intensive graphic design foundation course by The Graphic Design School
Short design software courses
Employers normally expect candidates to be familiar with the Adobe Suite, including InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and Dreamweaver, so gaining a technical certification or qualification can be a huge advantage. Additionally, honing these skills can help graphic designers to boost the quality of their portfolio.
Popular options include:
- Adobe Training and Tutorials by Lynda.com
- Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver or InDesign by Alison.com
- Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator & InDesign courses by CityLit
- Photoshop or Illustrator for beginners by Nottingham Trent University
- Adobe Training Courses by Certitec
What is expected of graphic designers?
Graphic designers will generally be expected to commit to the following:
- Full-time hours – Graphic design roles are generally full-time, at 35 – 40 hours per week — part-time roles are rare
- Occasional evening work – In order to meet project deadlines, occasional evening work outside of standard office hours, may be expected
- Office-based work – The job involves working in front of a computer, at a desk, for very long periods of time
- Possibility of travel – Travelling to meet clients may be required, especially for freelancers or those who work within agencies
Graphic designer benefits
As graphic designers can work in such a broad range of companies and industries, benefits packages will vary. However, they generally including things like:
- Pension scheme
- Generous holiday allowance
- Flexible or remote working options (especially for those in agencies)
- Company Mac or PC
- Company discounts (generally for larger, in-house brands)
- Training opportunities
Who employs graphic designers?
Graphic designers are typically employed in creative agencies who specialise in design, marketing, PR, website development, branding or advertising. Creative agencies carry out design work for other companies, who they refer to as their clients.
They can also work as part of in-house creative teams for larger brands and businesses, who need graphic designs for their marketing materials, advertisements, and websites. In-house design teams work within a single company and are devoted to that company and the products or services they sell.
Typical graphic design employers include companies within:
- Motion graphics
- Film and media
- Technology & digital
- Games design
However, companies across countless sectors and industries need graphics and design, meaning opportunities are available across the board.
Between 2011 and 2018, employment in the British creative industries increased by 30.6%, in comparison to just a 10.1% increase for UK sectors as a whole. Due to a growing demand for digital skills, tech-savvy graphic designers are in high demand.
While graphic design jobs are available across the country, employment is known to be fairly city-centric, predominantly in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.
Which junior jobs progress to graphic designer roles?
Graphic design is technically an entry-level role in itself. With the correct skills and knowledge, combined with a portfolio, it’s possible to gain employment as a junior designer without any prior full-time experience.
With that said, the industry can be competitive, meaning experience gained via an internship, placement or apprenticeship is highly advantageous in the hiring process. Alternatively, completing projects on a freelance basis is a great way for aspiring designers to build a portfolio, gain testimonials and, ultimately, increase their suitability for a junior designer role.
Which senior jobs do graphic designers progress to?
After a few years of graphic design experience, it’s possible to move into a senior, higher-paying role. While routes can vary, typical promotions include:
Senior graphic designer
With a few years of experience gained, graphic designers can gain a senior post within an agency or in-house team. At this level, designers are expected to work with minimal support and may train and mentor junior designers. However, with the added responsibility comes greater salary potential.
Often, graphic designers discover a passion for a certain discipline and decide to specialise within that area. This might be logo design, typography, packaging or marketing, though the highest salaries tend to fall within UX, UI and website and app disciplines. As specialists hold advanced skills within a certain area, they generally command higher wages and rates.
Creative leadership roles
In larger creative agencies and design partnerships, promotion into leadership positions, such as studio manager, creative director or art directors, may be available. These positions generally include leading an entire creative team and can be stressful, but offer a high annual salary or day rate.
Freelance graphic designer
With experience, many graphic designers decide to take the freelance route. Freelancers work for themselves and offer their services to several clients or companies at once. As well as providing a more flexible work schedule and, often, a better work-life balance, graphic designer day rates within city agencies can be generous.
Graphic designer job description – conclusion
For those with a creative eye, a love for visual communication and a knack for technology, a career in graphic design can be highly fulfilling.
Employment is available in creative agencies and in-house creative teams across the country, though opportunities are more widely available in the cities.
While salaries typically start low, progression into senior or specialised roles is available, which often brings higher salaries. Additionally, freelance graphic design opportunities are vast and normally offer competitive day rates.