A graphic design degree or certificate is an absolutely amazing thing to have. It will not only open your eyes to the world of design, but also opens you up to a world of fantastic creative careers. So if you’re thinking about studying graphic design, already studying or have just graduated and are now wondering what to do with a graphic design degree then here are 11 top options to get you started.
Though, did you know that you don’t actually need a degree to become a graphic designer? There are some excellent graphic design short courses and bootcamps out there that mean you can become a graphic designer or into any of the other jobs below without investing the huge amount of time and money it takes to gain a degree. The best of these courses is Shillington’s innovative online graphic design course that gets you fully prepared to work as a graphic designer in a seriously short amount of time.
If you’re wondering what you can do with a graphic design degree then this one definitely doesn’t come as a surprise. A majority of graphic design graduates go on to become graphic designers—where they can choose to work in a studio or agency, in house for a company or go into alone and become a freelancer.
What is a graphic designer exactly? Well, as we define graphic design as the visual communication of an idea or concept, graphic designers are visual communicators. They take something conceptual and turn it into something visual—with a few steps in the middle.
Graphic designers are responsible for many things that we use and see in our day to day lives—including transport maps, apps and websites, magazines, posters and a whole lot more.
Though, graphic design is not the only career option for graphic design graduates. Now you’re asking what to do with a graphic design degree? Well here’s some great options.
A lot of graphic design graduates go on to become art directors. This role is something you can do straight from graduation or a position you take as you develop your career in the design industry. Like graphic designers, art directors can freelance, work in a studio or in house for a company.
Art directors essentially direct the art of the campaign—they go to photoshoots, film shoots, work with storyboard artists and, overall, manage the art behind the project. They brief in designers and hire freelancers to work on the projects. In a design studio, they also do things like make sure brand guidelines are adhered to and the like. In summary, they oversee things from an art perspective, not a logistics perspective (that’s for the project manager).
Check out this interview with Shillington graduate Mason El Hage, who is art director at monopo, a creative agency with studios in Tokyo and London.
Though you most likely won’t learn motion design during a graphic design course, it’s a great creative string to add to your bow after you graduate—and something that many graphic design graduates do. For example, Shillington graduate Jack Seymour worked as a graphic designer before transitioning into motion design.
Motion designers, which are sometimes referred to as motion graphic designers, create moving artwork (hence the motion part) for the internet, film and television and advertising. This can include things like movie title sequences, animated adverts or adding motion to a company logo or website. They work closely with graphic designers, often bringing to life the work that their static colleagues create. Some studios and companies will have motion designers as part of their team or will bring in freelancers to animate the studio’s work.
Graphic design graduates who are thinking about what to do with a graphic design degree could think about becoming a project or design manager.
These roles require the skills and knowledge that you would gain on a graphic design course but concentrate them in the most strategic side of design, rather than the creative side.
Project/design managers are responsible for planning, coordinating and implementing design projects within a studio. They do things like assign designers to projects, develop design strategies and mentor colleagues and designers. They’re ultimately responsible for making sure that design projects stay on track and get completed and sent to the clients before deadlines.
Shillington graphic design graduates have gone on to become project or design managers. Shillington graduate Isabelle Boyd works as a project manager and designer at Creo.
Wondering what you can do with a graphic design degree? One thing that graphic design graduates can go on to do is work as a brand strategist. It’s the perfect job for designers who really love branding—and a really great way to use your branding skills in practice.
A brand strategist, like Shillington Online graduate Emma Cooley who works as a Senior Strategist at New York-based BX Brand Experience Design Group, is responsible for ensuring all elements of a company’s brand are working coherently. Using branding skills they learnt on their graphic design course, brand strategists have to get to know a client’s business inside out so they can develop a brand strategy which is then applied to the brand identity. In short, the work they do will completely shape how a brand looks.
Another job you can do with a graphic design degree is a digital designer—or more specifically a UX or UI (or both!) designer. Though all graphic designers will dabble in digital design—both in their graphic design course and their job—if you’re really into digital, you can work specifically as a digital designer. You can also specialise in UX (User Experience) or UI (User Interface) design. UX designers make products, namely websites and apps, usable and accessible whilst UI designers work on the interface—they make these products look good.
Digital designers, as a whole, design media that is viewed on screen or another digital interface. This means they design things like websites, apps and the like. It requires the same knowledge as designing for print combined with the knowledge of how to translate these to screen. They’ll work closely with graphic designers themselves, as well as motion designers and 3D designers.
Shillington graduate Rolake Ojo has been working as a UX designer since graduating for a digital marketing agency.
If you are stuck with what to do with a graphic design degree, then you don’t necessarily have to stick to graphic design or one of its related fields. Shillington graduate Peter Howell was in that exact situation–he had his new graphic design skills but wanted to combine them with his other creative skills, that included writing, illustration and working in TV. So he became a creative freelancer—and works across several different industries.
Graphic design is the perfect career to combine with any other skills you have—creative or otherwise—as every industry needs graphic designers. So, if you have other skills from before your graphic design degree or that you have picked up since then it’s easy to combine what you are able to do in a career as a creative freelancer. Designer and illustrator? Yes! Designer and director? Of course. Designer and chef? Why not! The creative world is your oyster.
Another specific area of graphic design where you are able to find a job is packaging. Packaging Designer is a great example of what you can do with a graphic design degree. There are agencies and studios dedicated to packaging design, like London’s Big Fish, where Shillington graduate Roo Cassels started as a Designer and is now Creative Director. You can also freelance as a packaging designer, working with companies who need packaging for a new product.
What does a packaging designer do? Well the clue is in the name—they design packaging. Packaging can be everything from designing boxes and cartons for FMCG (Fast moving consumer goods) to luxury wrapping for a fashion house. It’s a dynamic, exciting career where you’ll never know what’s coming next.
Another job you can take on as a graphic design graduate is creative artworker.
Creative artworkers play an essential role in design studios that will make great use of the skills and knowledge learnt on a graphic design course.
Creative artworkers are responsible for preparing designs for production or to send to a client. They will be sent designs by designers and check that everything is correct and adjust it accordingly. Creative artworkers are a hugely important part of any design studio—they effectively finish up the designs so it is the last step before it leaves the studio. The role also involves using the essential design programs—InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and Figma—that you will learn on a design course. This makes Creative Artwork a great first step into the industry as it’s the perfect opportunity to practice using your skills in a professional setting. This makes it a great graduate job, just like Shillington graduate Lois Dickson who works as a Junior Creative Artworker for THG Studios.
Marketing doesn’t seem like a job for a graphic designer, but actually marketing teams and design teams often work very closely, including marketing teams actually hiring designers. Marketing designers are usually people with a graphic design degree who work on a marketing team to help with the marketing side of things, whilst also designing the content marketing teams need—ads, social media posts and the like.
Marketing designer is a balanced job—working both on marketing strategy and on the creative side of things. You could spend one day designing ads for Instagram and other digital platforms and then the next day working on the strategy and ideas behind these ads. Shillington Online graduate Brianne Coglon works as a marketing designer for e-commerce experts Shopify so it’s definitely a great option for what you can do with a graphic design degree.
One exciting thing you can do with a graphic design degree is become a content creator.
A relatively new job in the grand scheme of things, content creation is a great way to flex your graphic design skills in the digital realm.
What is a content creator? It’s a fun, dynamic job where you can provide and make content for digital platforms, namely websites and social media—with a big focus on the latter. Content creators are mostly freelancers, who companies bring in to help them develop their digital output. Though, more companies are increasingly hiring in-house content creators to work on their marketing teams. Having a graphic design degree is a huge plus when applying for content creator jobs as these skills will be hugely beneficial in the work you’ll be doing and how the content you’re creating will look. Shillington graduate Emily Treloar has been working in Creative Content at Focusrite since graduation.
Do these jobs sound like something you’d like to do? Shillington’s graphic design bootcamp covers everything you need to land any of these (as our graduate examples above prove!)—from design theory to design programs.
Whether on campus or online, you’ll learn from experienced, practicing designers before immediately applying your skills in a studio environment. And, this all happens in just three months full-time or nine months part-time. There’s four campuses around the world—in New York, London, Sydney and Melbourne—so you can choose your nearest campus or even study graphic design abroad. Or, if you’d rather study online, there’s four different time zones to choose from so you can study whenever works best for you.
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