Become a Layout Artist: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a layout artist. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required to start a career in the graphic design field.

Do I Want to Be a Layout Artist?

Your job as a layout artist will involve collecting and arranging type styles and images to form a visual design for print ads or Web pages. A layout artist is one of several types of commercial artists commonly known as graphic designers. You may find work in the art departments of corporations or with publications, including newspapers, catalogs and magazines. Sometimes, you'll be pressed for time to meet a deadline.

Job Requirements

To become a layout artist, you might not have to earn a degree, but undergraduate programs are available if you choose to pursue one. If you don't enter an academic program, you'll likely need to find ways to get field experience and build a portfolio. The following table contains the core requirements that employers listed in job postings for layout artists in September 2012:

Common Requirements
Degree Level Degree not necessarily required, but most employers prefer associate's or bachelor's degree
Degree Fields Graphic design, art or related
Certification Not required
Experience Experience requirements vary by employer, but many request prior work in the field, along with a portfolio
Key Skills Creativity, teamwork, communication skills, ability to meet deadlines
Computer Skills Knowledge of computerized page-layout systems such as InDesign; experience with graphic design software such as Photoshop and Illustrator

Step 1: Earn an Associate's Degree

Numerous colleges offer 2-year associate's degree programs in graphic design, which can lead to a career as a layout artist. Typically, courses include typography, design, layout, color, drawing, computer technology and illustration. Graduates of this type of program may also qualify for a job as a Web design technician or graphic design assistant.

Success Tips:

  • Develop a portfolio. Some schools offer students opportunities to develop portfolios of their work during their studies. It may, however, be necessary to present a portfolio prior to admission into an associate's degree program. This portfolio can be given to prospective employers to demonstrate an applicant's technical and artistic abilities.
  • Volunteer for student organizations. Some colleges offer students the opportunity to volunteer as layout artists for school publications such as newspapers or yearbooks. Work performed in these organizations can go in a portfolio for admission into an undergraduate program or for an internship.
  • Complete an internship. An internship gives students or new graduates the opportunity to gain on-the-job experience that could make them more marketable to employers. Many employers seek entry-level graduates for unpaid internships in the field.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Some employers seeking layout artists prefer a bachelor's degree in graphic design or a related field. There are many colleges that offer this type of degree program. It may also be helpful for those who are already employed as a layout artist and would like to advance their career. Classes can include topics in art history, photography, digital illustration, visual communication and animation.

Success Tip:

  • Keep skills up to date. A job as a layout artist generally uses technology and visual trends that are constantly evolving. Many cities offer user groups for professionals to get together on a regular basis and share current information about their field. The Worldwide InDesign User Group Community, for example, has several chapters around the United States and is free to join.

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