How to Start a Design Career

Graphic design is one of the most relevant skills anyone can have in the market today. Nearly every business and personal brand needs the help of designers to make their business visible.

This makes graphic design not only popular but also one of the most competitive fields.

As such, it becomes harder for aspiring graphic designers to break into the market. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t start a successful design career.

On the contrary, there’s still a massive gap in the market for graphic designers. You only need to work on perfecting your craft and improve your marketing.

In this article, we’re going to show you how to start a design career and see it through to success.

What does a graphic designer do?

Before starting your graphic design career, you need to be aware of the scope of a graphic designer.

Simply put, a graphic designer is responsible for the creation and design of business advertisements, brochures, and other marketing materials.

Their role is to come up with creative, yet captivating visual concepts that’ll inspire and inform consumers. They can do this via computer software or by hand.

Creativity is the most important skill you need as a designer. Without it, the competition in the market will drown you.

Qualities of a graphic designer

Excellent communication skills closely follow creativity. Communication is crucial as it helps you convey the right message to your client’s audience. Not only that but you need good communication skills to present and negotiate your work with clients.

Other traits that come in handy include problem solving, passion, empathy, open-mindedness, patience, ability to take criticism, and curiosity.

Possessing these traits will give you the endurance you need to survive in the market long enough to see your career peak.

That said, here are five paths you can follow if you want to start a design career.

 

  • Go to a design school

 

While it’s possible to learn graphic design without ever stepping into a design class, this is probably the best and safest way to go about it.

If possible, get a university degree in graphic design. It’s not only preferred by most employers but also gives you the grounding you need in the industry.

Employers today want designers who are well-rounded academically, not just in graphic design.

And with technology on your side, learning from universities has never been easier. You can take on night classes, or better yet, online courses on the subject and complete your studies.

The best thing about it is that course work covers a wide array of topics in design. So, you get to learn different fields in design, giving you the freedom to choose whatever interests you most.

If that’s not reason enough, statistics from the US Department of Labor show that; graphic designers with a degree are more likely to land high paying jobs compared to those without.

Nonetheless, if your schedule is too tight to accommodate attending school, you can always try online courses. Credible sites such as Udemy offer comprehensive graphic design courses that are very informative and useful when starting out.

 

  • Keep up with the latest changes

 

The graphic design world is constantly evolving. The trends that were there two years ago may not be the ones in demand today. The software in use also keeps changing.

Therefore, before starting your design career, you need to be aware of what’s in use currently.

Software such as Adobe should be at your fingertips, as you’ll need it for your operations. Get to know how to use Adobe Photoshop and Adobe illustrator, and the updates on these apps.

Moreover, you also need to keep track of the latest collaborative tools in the market. Learn how to use software such as Avocode and Zeplin, as they’ll come in handy when cooperating with other designers.

Most design jobs also demand good knowledge in Sketch and Adobe XD, as they are instrumental in web design.

By working on your software skills, you’ll drastically improve your chances of being noticed in the market.

 

  • Work on a few side-projects

 

It’s not enough that you’ve gone to school, and you have a degree in graphic design, you need to start working. Before landing a job, start working on a few projects.

You can begin working on a few design posters, logos, e-book covers, app prototypes, etc. You can even try building websites on sites like Wix, Webflow and Squarespace using their web building tools.

Although doing this seems like a lot of work for no pay, it’ll be good practice, and it may form part of your portfolio.

Remember, practice makes perfect!

You may also consider seeking an internship, or join a design organization to gain some work experience. Doing this will give you a better understanding of the industry.

By interacting with successful designers, you’ll know the difference between UX, UI, motion, interaction, research, and visual designs.

As such, you’ll be more informed on your category when starting your career.

Additionally, use these groups to showcase your work. Feedback from other designers is vital as it’ll help you know what to work on.

 

  • Improve your online presence

 

Everyone today is on social media. Why not use leverage it to boost your design career?

The internet offers you a good platform to showcase your work for free. Use social media to reach out to people interested in your work, and to engage with them.

There are numerous groups on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. for graphic designers. Join them, be active, and engage with other designers.

Ask questions, answer other designer’s queries, and help out whenever you can. This way, you’ll create a stable peer network that will be key in taking your career a notch higher.

You also need an online portfolio; at least that’s what a potential employer will look for. So, be creative and use sites like Behance to create a portfolio that rocks!

 

  • Consider freelancing

 

The freelancing world is a hot-cake right now. Technology has made it easier to get clients from all over the world, without leaving your home.

So, while you wait for replies to your job applications, why not kick-start your career with some real jobs. Freelancing is a great way to not only supplement your income but also improve your skills.

It gives you a taste of what to expect once you get that job you’re watching out for and helps you apply all that theory you’ve been learning.

Moreover, you can make freelancing your full-time career. It may not pay well at first, but with time, you’ll scale those high ranks.

Freelancing sites such as Upwork, Fiver, Toptal, among others, can open up your freelancing world and maybe, your career. Try them!

Final thoughts

Starting your career as a graphic designer can be rough. There are times when you’ll love your job, and other times, you’ll wish to quit.

Nonetheless, if you are patient enough to stick to your plan, you’ll finally get there. So, don’t give up. Keep reading, networking, and applying for those jobs.

Soon, your career will take off, and you’ll get that design job you’ve always dreamed of!

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