How To Jumpstart a Career in Graphic Design

Graphic design is the perfect career for anyone who is self-motivated and can create original designs for the Web or for print. Whether you are currently in graphic design school or don't even know where to begin, here are the steps you need to take to jumpstart your career in graphic design.

 

Educate Yourself
The first step in your graphic design career is to get a proper education. Without an education, you'll have a hard time convincing clients of your level of skills and professionalism. Here are some educational options:

  • Associates Degree - This is the fastest way to get a formal education under your belt, and if you need more, you can always continue your education in the future.
  • 4-year Degree - Although a 4-year takes twice as long as an Associates, the extra tools you'll acquire is worth the extra time spent. Some companies may not give you that muchly desired promotion until you complete a 4-year degree.
  • Online and night classes - There are many colleges that offer online and/or night classes to make getting your graphic design degree much more convenient. You'll still finish within the 2 or 4 year time frame, but you'll take classes year-round as opposed to traditional fall and spring semesters.
  • Teach Yourself - This is not recommended if you desire a professional design career, but teaching yourself new information once you are out of school is a definite must. Keeping up with new graphic design tips and tricks as well as trends for web pages, brochures, posters, and business cards as an example keep your skills competitive.

Build Your Portfolio
It is always important to keep a current portfolio handy so that clients can see what you are capable of, but building your portfolio is especially crucial during your education as well as early in your career.

  • Assignments in Classes - Keep the designs that you create while in graphic design school so that clients or hiring companies can see your unique creativity.
  • Free/Minimum Pay Work - Many businesses or even college clubs look to graphic design students for free or at least cheap work. The time that you put into these first projects will definitely not be worth the pay, but be sure to put your all into each one, regardless of compensation. You don't want a poor quality design to come back to haunt you when looking for a job later. Also, if your work will be published, by all means take the job. Published work early in your career looks impressive to prospective employers and clients.
  • Current Work - Always update your portfolio with your latest and greatest so that clients will see your most recent improvements.

Choose Your Path
The world of graphic design involves many different options for jobs. You could become a print designer or a web designer, you could create magazines or catalogs, or maybe you'll design corporate packages and brands for companies, and the list goes on. Whatever niche you decide on in your graphic design career, you can choose between two different career paths: become an employee or a freelancer.

  • Work for a Company - Many companies today are hiring their own graphic design artist to keep on staff for any advertising, marketing, branding, other design needs that companies face everyday. You may have to begin on a small salary before moving up the payscale, but this is usually the case for any career.
  • Be a Freelancer - Freelance work can be more difficult to build, simply because you have to create your own work, as opposed to a company creating the work for you. Freelancing is much more doable than in the past, though, because of websites created for the purpose of bidding on graphic design jobs. You simply have to sell yourself and outbid the next freelancer. Start low with your bids until you establish yourself as a professional and build an impressive portfolio; eventually you'll be able to place high-end bids and build loyal clients that come to you every time they need graphic design services.

 

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