What to Expect in Your First Year as a Graphic Designer

In college, graphic designers learn how to manipulate color, form, type, and layout to create meaningful designs. On the job, designers take those skills and use them to get their client's message across via print or electronic media. This could take the shape of consumer packaging, logos and signage, a website page, or an entire newspaper section. While college assignments prepare designers for this type of work, there is more to learn about being a graphic designer that only job experience can teach.

Work Environment

Graphic designers can be found working for the largest of corporations, or they may work for themselves as a part-time freelancer. As many as a quarter of all designers own their own business as freelancers. Working conditions will depend on the very nature of the job they are assigned to and the business environment in which they work.

A designer who sells advertising to major clients may have a nice, comfortable office, while a layout artist with the local newspaper may work in a noisy and dusty print room. Hours can range from regular 9-5 weekday schedules, while some may work through late-night meetings and toward unscheduled weekend deadlines. Graphic designers who work for larger firms will most likely have every tool they need at their disposal, while freelancers may have to work with limited supplies and computer programs.

Some designers may encounter issues with their creativity, as it is now being paid for instead of merely graded. Their work is now on public display, up for critique, and eventual sale. Despite these challenges, graphic designers can use their first year on the job as a rich learning experience. Many actually use this time to determine what design specialty they would like to focus on for the balance of their career. Most artists need to work with different media in a professional environment before knowing what excites them most.

Learning on the Job

Most jobs are an extension of education for the first year. It takes time to learn how a company operates, how they prefer things done, and how to use the proper tools to get the job done. Most designers have to work up to a position of creating from a position of observing. Designers new to the field spend much of their first year watching and shadowing other designers. They learn new computer programs, network with coworkers and clients, and perform administrative tasks that acquaint them with the office around them. Through the process of shadowing, or following and observing, new designers learn what is expected of them.

For all this experience, graphic designers can start out earning anywhere an estimated $30,000 to $40,000 per year. This will depend on whether one works for a major advertising firm, a bi-monthly magazine, the local newspaper, or a web design startup. Graphic designers may be paid well during their first year, though self-employed designers might have to work harder and longer for the same return. Typically, on the job training takes one to three years, at which time new designers might be considered for advancement. Your talent, ability, knowledge of specialized computer programs, and ability to communicate with clients all make a difference. Prove yourself during your first year as a graphic designer and soon you may be handed more responsibility.

Schools Offering Training Programs in Graphic Design

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            Graphic Design (AS)
            • Online and Bachelor's programs include B.S. in Advertising, B.S. in Web Design, B.A. in Interior Design, and more
            • Curriculum focus on preparing students for a creative career by teaching them the fundamentals of advertising and design
            • Students can choose from courses that cover areas such as advertising concepts, art direction, experience design, and online marketing
            • Over 50 locations nationwide, with a student support team dedicated to helping students grow
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Graphic Design, Bachelor of Science (Online)
            • Full Sail’s curriculum combines elements of creativity, art, business and life skills, technical prowess, and academic achievement.
            • Full Sail offers accelerated programs, so a degree that would normally take four years takes 24 months on average.
            • Students work with industry-standard tools and technologies, allowing them to gain practical knowledge and real-world experience.
            • Join us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram to interact with our community, read about grad success, and see campus images.
            • Online Courses
            Graphic Arts (AAS)
            • Offers several scholarship opportunities for students who qualify.
            • Laptop computers are issued to each student at the beginning of their program.
            • Provides programs in health care, business, information technology, and graphic arts.
            • Respiratory Therapy program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).

            Our family of non-profit colleges admits students of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin.

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            Graphic Design/Desktop Publishing
            ABCO Technology , Los Angeles
            • An accredited computer training academy preparing students to enter the IT industry as Network Engineers, Software Engineers, Web Apps Developer, Website Designers, Programmers, Database Administrators since 2000.
            • Holds A+ certification from CompTIA.
            • Located in Los Angeles, approximately 10 minutes away from LAX.
            • Flexible class schedules offered during day times, evenings and weekends.
            • Helping students start a career in technology within 3 - 9 months.
            • Educates with the mission to serve the needs of the local community and graduates by matching opportunities to skills.
            • Military friendly school.
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            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            Bachelor of Science, Animation & VFX
            • Located in Hollywood, CA, offering degrees in film, music production, business, animation and more.
            • Scholarship, financial aid and military benefits are available for students who qualify.
            • Programs taught by award-winning industry professionals in real-world working environments.
            • Features industry-standard facilities including recording studios, soundstages, green screen, movie theatres and more.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            Show more [+]
            • Financial Aid

            Latest Graphic Design Articles & News

            Designers to submit artwork to wine label contest
            Graphic designers and artists are now able to enter the annual Artist Series Wine Label Design contest for The Capital Grille, and can submit their creations until October 7, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

            Graphic designers fighting against new design opportunity at Huffington Post
            The Huffington Post has recently issued a contest, asking graphic designers to create a new logo. However, the winning individual will not be paid for their design - they will only be recognized by name, rather than compensation, according to AdWeek.

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