Graphic Arts, Communications & Printing

Graphic design plays an important role in our visual world. From websites and magazines to brochures and packaging, designers help determine how things look. As a graphic designer, you might work for a design agency, creating looks for many different firms. Or work on a company's in-house design team.

With experience, you can become an art director or design director, or advance to creative director or department manager. You might focus on a specific area, such as web design. You could even become your own boss by opening your own shop or working as a freelancer.

Find out what students and instructors say about this program.

Essential Skills and Salary Information

State and National Wages & Employment Trends

Location Pay Period 2011
10% 25% Median 75% 90%
United States Hourly $12.60 $16.06 $21.16 $28.56 $37.20
Yearly $26,200 $33,400 $44,000 $59,400 $77,400
Pennsylvania Hourly $12.48 $15.60 $19.40 $24.90 $33.06
Yearly $26,000 $32,400 $40,400 $51,800 $68,800
United States Employment Percent Change Job Openings 1
2010 2020
Graphic Designers 279,200 316,500 +13% 12,380
Pennsylvania Employment Percent Change Job Openings 1
2008 2018
Graphic Designers 10,550 10,400 -2% 280

1 Job Openings refers to the average annual job openings due to growth and net replacement.

Note: The data for the State Employment Trends and the National Employment Trends are not directly comparable. The projections period for state data is 2008-2018, while the projections period for national data is 2010-2020.

Information provided by CareerOneStop, sponsored by the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration

Tasks

  • Create designs, concepts, and sample layouts based on knowledge of layout principles and esthetic design concepts.
  • Determine size and arrangement of illustrative material and copy, and select style and size of type.
  • Confer with clients to discuss and determine layout design.
  • Develop graphics and layouts for product illustrations, company logos, and Internet websites.
  • Review final layouts and suggest improvements as needed.
  • Prepare illustrations or rough sketches of material, discussing them with clients or supervisors and making necessary changes.
  • Use computer software to generate new images.
  • Key information into computer equipment to create layouts for client or supervisor.
  • Maintain archive of images, photos, or previous work products.
  • Prepare notes and instructions for workers who assemble and prepare final layouts for printing.

Tools used in this occupation

  • Laser printers — Computer laser printers; Wide format printers
  • Notebook computers — Laptop computers
  • Photocopiers — Photocopying equipment
  • Scanners — Computer scanners
  • Still cameras — 35 millimeter cameras

Technology used in this occupation

  • Data base user interface and query software — FileMaker Pro software; Microsoft Access; Structured query language SQL
  • Desktop publishing software — Adobe Systems Adobe FrameMaker; Adobe Systems Adobe InDesign; Adobe Systems Adobe PageMaker; QuarkXPress
  • Graphics or photo imaging software — Adobe Systems Adobe After Effects; Adobe Systems Adobe FreeHand; Adobe Systems Adobe Illustrator; Corel CorelDraw Graphics Suite
  • Web page creation and editing software — Adobe Systems Adobe Dreamweaver; Adobe Systems Adobe Flash Player; Adobe Systems Adobe Macromedia HomeSite
  • Web platform development software — Adobe Systems Adobe ColdFusion; Cascading Style Sheets CSS; Hypertext markup language HTML; JavaScript

Knowledge

  • Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • Communications and Media — Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
  • Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Fine Arts — Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.
  • Sales and Marketing — Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
  • Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

Skills

  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Operations Analysis — Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Abilities

  • Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  • Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
  • Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

Work Activities

  • Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
  • Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.

Interests

Interest code: ARE

  • Artistic — Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.
  • Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Work Styles

  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.

Work Values

  • Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
  • Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
  • Recognition — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.