Job guides

How to get an entry-level Graphic Design job?

Role Basics: What is Graphic Design?

Graphic designers work closely with brand and marketing teams to design brand and marketing materials.  

Example Graphic Design projects:

  • Create a logo
  • Develop the visual elements of a brand system
  • Work with marketers to develop collateral (email marketing, sales docs, one-pagers, case studies, landing pages)
  • Create designs for a marketing website
  • Create icons for use in marketing materials

Common activities in Graphic Design:

  • Create design deliverables in a tool like Adobe Creative Suite
  • Communicate with design stakeholders, especially in Marketing
  • Present design concepts and deliverables

Graphic Design compensation:

 Entry jobs pay $40-80K. As in functions like project management, there’s a big difference between compensation and competition depending on whether you work in a tech company or not. Tech jobs are way more competitive but pay much more, too.

Graphic Design career path: 

OK or Great (if you’re the best). Graphic designers can transition to product designers, which is a much higher-value career. They can also transition to marketing roles. But the very best graphic designers can focus brand and identity and command huge consulting fees, earning $300-600K or more. 

How accessible are Graphic Design jobs?

  • Time to learn. You can learn basic design skills in 3+ months and 500+ hours, but only if you have a strong visual and artistic background.
  • Selectivity. Selective. But very transparent, so credentials are less important.
  • Ease of working remote. Good. Many designers work remotely or as contractors.

Job Requirements: What you need to be competitive for Graphic Design roles?

Key skills for Graphic Design:

  • Deep experience with Figma, Adobe creative suite, or another design tool
  • Exceptional aesthetic taste
  • Great communication skills

Professional background for Graphic Design:

Many designers are trained in design or art. Others are artists and self-taught designers. 

Prior accomplishments to be competitive for Graphic Design:

It’s all about your portfolio. 

Personal characteristics for success in Graphic Design:

  • Obsessed with detail. 
  • Creative. 
  • Visual. 
  • Great taste.

How to prepare for and get a job in Graphic Design? 

Projects to learn and prove yourself:

  • Learn to use Figma
  • Learn the principles and language of graphic design
  • Build an icon set
  • Bid on design projects in 99 designs, Upwork and Fiverr — especially logo design 
  • Analyze existing landing pages
  • Offer to redesign the landing page / website for a company, nonprofit that you like but has a really bad one
  • Create marketing collateral for a small business
  • Analyze and redesign existing startup websites to make them more compelling
  • Conduct usability testing user interviews on communication graphics to improve your designs

Key Graphic Design concepts and resources:

By Taylor Thompson

Taylor is a co-founder at Purpose Built Ventures, where he helps launch mission-driven companies. Before Purpose Built, Taylor led growth at Almanac, strategy for Curious Learning, and product at PharmaSecure. His work helps 100,000s of people collaborate at work, 4 million children learn to read, and protects billions of medicines from counterfeiting. He has hired dozens of people, helped raise more than $50 million, and contributed to as a researcher with Clay Christensen. Taylor is an Echoing Green Fellow, and he has degrees from Dartmouth College and Harvard Business School.

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