What Is a Graphic Designer? And How You Can Become One

Updated 10 September 2023

Graphic designers work in the visual communication field. Most of the visual elements we see in everyday life come from graphic design. By understanding the role and responsibilities of a graphic designer, you can decide if this career field is suitable for you. In this article, we discuss what is a graphic designer, explore their duties, salary and work environment and explain the steps for how to become one.

What Is A Graphic Designer?

What is a graphic designer, can be described as a design professional who creates visual graphics in various mediums and printed and electronic forms for different purposes. They are required to have artistic, conceptual and technological skills. They generally follow the client design brief and work with art directors and other designers.

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What Is The Role Of A Graphic Designer?

The role of a graphic designer is to create visual graphics to communicate specific messages effectively to an intended audience. They assemble images, fonts and photographs into eye-catching static or interactive layouts. They may design advertisements, publication covers, publication layouts, newsletters, brochures, leaflets, banners, logos, web application layouts, product packaging and animation graphics.

Related: Top Jobs in the Arts (With Duties and Earning Potential)

What Are The Educational Qualifications Of A Graphic Designer?

The educational qualifications of a graphic designer may include certification, diploma, bachelor's degree, master's degree or doctorate. An advanced degree is often not necessary for a graphic design job, but it may help to enhance your knowledge, skills and job prospects. Some employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree for senior graphic designer positions, and teaching positions may require a master's degree or a Ph.D. The education covers visual design training, design history and use of design software.

Related: What Is a Fashion Designer? Qualification, Salary and Skills

What Skills Does A Graphic Designer Require?

A graphic designer can benefit from having the following skills:

  • Artistic skills: drawing and illustrating in different mediums

  • Creative skills: ability to be creative and develop exciting and innovative ideas for visual communication

  • Conceptual skills: capability to follow design briefs and think up original concepts for creating eye-catching visuals

  • Communication skills: excellent verbal and written communication skills to work effectively with art directors, other artists and clients

  • Computer skills: proficiency in various design software programs for completing digital projects

  • Time management skills: ability to prioritise tasks

Related: What Is a Web Designer? (With Duties, Salary and Skills)

What Are The Eight Types Of Graphic Design?

The eight types of graphic design are:

  1. Visual identity design: It comprises visual images and graphics that represent a brand.

  2. Marketing design: It communicates and promotes a brand's products and services.

  3. User interface design: It focuses on the look and style of a device's interface.

  4. Publication design: It is used to create the layout and graphics for printed materials.

  5. Packaging design: It involves selecting materials, graphics, fonts and colours for exterior packaging.

  6. Motion graphics: It is a combination of animation and audio used in multimedia.

  7. Environmental design: It is about designing spaces, environments, backgrounds and layouts.

  8. Art and illustration: It helps create visual images for commercial purposes.

Related: Graphic Design Tools For Professionals (With List And Tips)

What Is The Work Environment For Graphic Designers?

A graphic designer's work environment may vary depending on whether they are self-employed, independent contractors or an employee of an agency or company. Self-employed and independent graphic designers may work from a home office or rent an office space. They may interact with clients via phone, email and video calls. Graphic designers who work for agencies or companies may work in teams on the company premises and have daily interactions with colleagues from different departments and meetings with various clients.

Graphic designers may require to adjust their schedules to meet project deadlines. Many of them may work for very long hours to complete projects on time.

Related: What Does a UI/UX Designer Do? (With Salary and Skills)

How Much Graphic Designers Make?

Graphic designers earn a national average salary of ₹2,44,152 per year. Your exact pay may depend on your employer, location, talent, specialisation, skills and experience. Senior graphic designers with extensive industry experience are likely to earn higher salaries.

How To Become A Graphic Designer?

You can become a graphic designer by following these steps:

1. Clear 10+2

While you can take some graphic design courses after class 10th, most courses require a higher secondary certificate. Some schools may have stricter criteria for enrollment. For instance, you may be required to secure at least 60% marks in your 10+2 exam to get admission to the top graphic design schools. It may also help if you have cleared the elementary and intermediate drawing exams in school.

2. Improve design skills

To improve your design skills, create designs daily, experiment with new ideas and work in different mediums. You might follow design blogs and social media accounts, view designs in books and magazines and study designs by leading graphic designers. It may help to pay attention to currently trending designs and try to understand why they are effective.

Related: Top Skills For A Graphic Designer Resume (With Tips)

3. Create an online portfolio

Upload your best design works online on your blog, website or online portfolio. Depending on your career goals, you can focus on a specific area like illustration, packaging design, typography or UX design, work in particular mediums or create more varied works in different areas. A well-presented online portfolio can help bring attention to your graphic design skills.

4. Get a certification

Many colleges and online course providers offer short-term online and offline certification courses that you can do after class 10th or 10+2. They are paid or free and generally cover basic and professional-level applications of graphic design. You can pursue a certification in graphic design and communication, advertising, web design, user interface (UI) design, user experience (UX) design, computer animation, 3D modelling and Photoshop.

5. Earn a diploma

You can enrol in diploma courses after your10th, 10+2 or graduation. Depending on the programme and institution, the course duration can be between eight months and three years. You can pursue a diploma in graphic design, visual communication, digital design, interactive media, desktop publishing, game design and web design. These courses typically offer practical training to prepare you for professional work.

6. Pass college entrance exams

Many successful graphic designers have advanced degrees, so you might want to consider further studies. Passing various competitive college entrance examinations is essential to get admission to design colleges. Some of the exams you can take after 10+2 for graduate, postgraduate and diploma courses are:

  • All India Entrance Examination for Design (AIEED)

  • NID Design Aptitude Test (NID DAT)

  • Pearl Academy Entrance Exam

  • The Design Village (TDV) Entrance Exam

  • MIT Institute of Design Aptitude Test (MITID-DAT)

  • Common Entrance Examination for Design (CEED)

  • Undergraduate Common Entrance Examination for Design (UCEED)

  • Symbiosis Entrance Exam for Design (SEED)

  • School of Fashion Technology Common Entrance Test (SOFT CET)

  • National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) Entrance Examination, which requires passing Creative Ability Test (CAT) and General Ability Test (GAT)

  • Indian Institute of Crafts and Design (IICD) Entrance Exam

  • University of Petroleum and Energy Studies Design Aptitude Test (UPES DAT)

7. Acquire a bachelor's degree

A four-year bachelor of design (B.Des.) in graphic design or a three-year bachelor of arts (B.A.) in graphic design may enhance your career prospects in this field. You are required to pass 10+2 and the relevant college entrance exams to be eligible for these courses. The syllabus usually covers design fundamentals, history of art and design, design process and thinking, visual identity design, advertising design and brand communication design.

8. Obtain a master's degree

A two-year master of design (M.Des.) in graphic design can offer more in-depth study and lead to better job and salary prospects. The admission eligibility is a B.A. or B. Des. in graphic design or a bachelor's degree in any stream from a recognised college. You are also required to have at least 50% marks and a passing score in various college entrance exams.

The course syllabus covers design thinking and methods, design research methods and design philosophy and critique. You may also study brand communication, information design, strategy design management and sustainable systems and craft studies. Additionally, you can specialise and get an M.Des. in fashion designing, interior designing, industrial design, communication studies, jewellery design, textile design and game design.

Related: Places To Get An Online Graphic Design Degree (With Jobs)

9. Get a doctorate

If you are interested in teaching graphic design at college or university levels, you might want to consider getting a three-year Ph.D. in design. To be eligible for admission, you need an M.Des. in design or an equivalent degree from a recognised college with a minimum of 50% marks. You may also need a passing score in relevant competitive college entrance exams or in the qualifying exams and interview rounds that each college may conduct separately. Some courses may require at least 10 years of professional work experience.

The research-based design course may require you to work with a supervisor and cover various design, management and technology subjects. You may be required to complete a thesis and pass a viva-voce examination to get your Ph.D.

10. Find work

You can find graphic design jobs on online job sites like Indeed, agency websites, professional networking sites and social media. Prepare a cover letter, resume and online design portfolio and apply to jobs that interest you. Depending on your career goals, you can work freelance, part-time or full-time as a graphic designer.


  • How To Become a Graphic Designer: A Complete Guide

  • What Is A Motion Graphics Designer? (And How To Become One)

  • How To Become An Advertising Designer (With Jobs And Salary)

  • 41 Graphic Designer Interview Questions (Plus Answers)

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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