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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.

Should I Become a Layout Artist?

Layout artists collect and arrange type styles and images to form a visual design for print ads or Web pages. They are one of several types of commercial artists commonly known as graphic designers. Layout artists find work in the art departments of corporations or with publications, including newspapers, catalogs and magazines. Sometimes, they are pressed for time to meet a deadline.

A degree is not necessary to become a layout artist, but undergraduate programs are available if an individual decides to pursue one. Without an academic program, prospective designers will need to find ways to get field experience and build a portfolio.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Degree not necessarily required, but most employers prefer associate's or bachelor's degree
Degree Field(s) 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; knowledge of computerized page-layout systems, such as InDesign; experience with graphic design software, such as Photoshop and Illustrator
Salary (2014) $45,900 per year (Median salary for all graphic designers)

Sources: Job postings (September 2012), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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. Courses include typography, design, layout, color, drawing, computer technology and illustration. Graduates also qualify for jobs 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 is 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.

Step 2: Complete an Internship

An internship gives students or new graduates the opportunity to gain on-the-job experience that makes them more marketable to employers. Many employers seek entry-level graduates for unpaid internships in the field.

Step 3: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Some employers seeking layout artists prefer a bachelor's degree in graphic design or a related field. This type of degree program is also helpful for those who are already employed as a layout artist and would like to advance their career. Classes include art history, photography, digital illustration, visual communication and animation.

Success Tip:

  • Keep skills up to date. A job as a layout artist 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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