Graphic Designer job description

What is a Graphic Designer?

Graphic designers work with other members of their marketing and creative departments to visually convey a particular message, idea or concept. They rely on their knowledge and proficiency with current graphic design programs to produce graphic art and visual materials for promotions, advertisements, websites, films, packaging and other mediums.

At Paladin Staffing, we specialize in helping professionals within this industry, as well as related industries, combine with great companies throughout the country. If you’re looking to break into the industry, or if you are looking for your next great position, browse our jobs or apply online today!

The Graphic Designer’s skill set

Knowledge of graphic design software and tools, including:

  • Adobe InDesign
  • CorelDRAW
  • QuarkXPress
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Dreamweaver
  • Ability to work with programming scripts, including XML and HTML
  • Understanding of the printing process and specifications
  • Familiarity with production and rendering methods, including drawing, offset printing, photography, interactive media
  • Creative thinking skills

Related job titles: Graphic Designer (Entry-Level, Associate, Senior), Graphic Artist, Designer (Web, Print, Creative), Creative Design Director, Production Artist, Print Production Manager, Illustrator.

Educational requirements

A degree or certificate from an accredited college or university is typically required to pursue a graphic design career. At a minimum, graphic designers should possess a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in graphic design, a four-year program. Two-year associate degree programs are also common, though a four-year degree is preferable.

Related certifications & qualifications

Today’s graphic designers must stay abreast of the latest tools and software in order to produce the best work possible. Many schools offer classes and certificate programs to help practicing professionals supplement their existing degrees and keep their skills current. Though some schools offer certificate programs in lieu of degree programs, many hiring managers and professionals strongly recommend achieving your degree from an accredited college or university first.

Three types of Graphic Designers

People working in graphic design generally work in one of the three categories: In-House, Agency, or Freelance. For both the employee and the employer, each category comes with its own set of implications, as well as pros and cons. Before accepting work, the graphic designer will have to decide if their job type will fit their lifestyle and personal preferences. One safe way to navigate this decision is to accept a few temp jobs in graphic design, so you can try out a few different work environments and see what's right for you.

In-House Graphic Designer

In-house graphic designers work in a company’s marketing or creative department. They are charged with becoming experts within the particular industry and gaining an understanding of industry norms and trends in order to produce the most effective and persuasive work possible. It’s a big responsibility, as in-house graphic designers often serve as the only designers in the department. However, it’s also a big opportunity to establish your reputation and hone your skills.

Companies employ in-house graphic designers when they have a steady stream of graphic design needs, but not enough to justify contracting with an agency. Some companies prefer in-house graphic designers to other options because such an arrangement gives the designers a chance to collaborate with other internal experts.

Agency Graphic Designer

As part of an agency, graphic designers become part of an organization dedicated specifically to marketing and creative solutions. They don’t just work within one industry or niche; they support clients from across the country and across many disciplines. It is a great environment for building connections within the field as well as building a portfolio of projects with high-profile clients.

Companies turn to agencies for expertise and "one-stop shopping" for their marketing and creative needs.

While there are many benefits that come with working at an agency, there are some drawbacks. For instance, agencies generally experience high turnover and the work is typically high-pressure.

Freelance Graphic Design

As a freelance graphic designer, you can be your own boss, set your own schedule and pursue your own projects. That’s a lot of freedom and flexibility. However, there’s also a lot of responsibility required, too.

It will be up to you to secure clients, funding and advertising, and you won’t be able to lean on your colleagues for inspiration, suggestions or support.

Prepare for these 12 job interview questions

When preparing to interview for a Graphic Design position, do your homework. Get a solid understanding of the company and the industry by exploring websites, collateral, social networks and other sources. Be ready to discuss what you like about their design efforts so far and how you can improve it.

Here are some questions you should prepare for:

  • What kinds of companies have you worked for in the past? How big were they? What industries were they in?
  • Which graphic design software are you comfortable with?
  • How long does it take you to get up to speed on new software? Can you provide an example?
  • Are there any specific programs that you want to learn more about and become more comfortable with?
  • When you receive a new project, how do you approach it? What is your thought process and your creative process?
  • Do you consider yourself to be a designer or a programmer?
  • In addition to design, what other creative elements have you contributed to your teams and your products?
  • Do you typically take creative direction or give it?
  • When creating a graphical presentation, how do you decide when "eye catching" is "overdoing it"?
  • How well do you take criticism when presenting your work?
  • Tell me about a recent project you have worked on and describe
    • The objective
    • Your role
    • Your decisions and execution, including graphic design portfolio examples
    • The result
    • The client’s feedback
  • Provide an example of a time you received negative feedback for work that you were proud of, and tell me how you approached the situation.

Brush up on your Graphic Design knowledge

Thanks to changes in technology, social media and mobile trends, graphic design is an ever-changing, ever-evolving field. So, in order to be successful, it’s important to evolve, too.

That’s why we recommend checking out these blogs and events.

Top Graphic Design Blogs:

Graphic Design Conventions & Training Events:

Apply for a Graphic Design job with Paladin Staffing

If you’re looking for the next step in your career, Paladin Staffing is ready to connect you with an excellent opportunity in your area. Launch the next stage of your career by browsing our job listings or apply online to connect with one of or recruiters today!