Should I Become a Layout Designer?
Layout designers use knowledge of electronic and mechanical systems to create designs for equipment, print publications, and the Internet. Related professionals, such as graphic designers, drafters, and desktop publishers, often use layout design skills as well. Layout designers might be employed in the publishing, advertising, editorial, education, manufacturing, and scientific industries.
This is a very competitive field, but one that might appeal to individuals who are interested in applying creativity to technical work. More and more of these designers also find it possible to work from home.
The degree level needed to work as a layout designer would be a minimum of an associate degree. However, some employers will prefer a bachelor's degree. The field in which a layout designer should earn a degree varies by industry, but a degree in a related field, such as graphic design, graphic communications, or engineering, may be helpful or required for some positions. The amount of experience employers are looking for varies in this field of work. In some cases, 1-3 years of related experience may be needed. In addition, potential employers may be looking for someone with the following key skills: artistic ability, verbal and written communication skills, creativity, ability to work within a team, and good time management. Individuals pursuing a career as a layout designer should also gain familiarity with specialized computer-aided drafting and design software, and engineering knowledge. In May of 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median annual salary for those working in the related field of graphic design was $46,900.
Step 1: Undergraduate Degree
Depending on the industry, prospective layout designers may be required to have an associate or bachelor's degree in a design field, such as computer-aided design, graphic design, layout, drafting, or engineering technology.
A layout or graphic design associate degree program may include courses in digital layout, drawing, and graphic design. Two-year programs in computer-aided drafting (known as CAD) may cover blueprint reading and geometric design. At the bachelor's degree level, prospective layout designers gain knowledge of technical design and architectural drawing using CAD programs. Graphic design bachelor's degree programs instruct students on 2-D and 3-D design, typography, and illustration.
Students working toward a career in design layout should look for available internship opportunities. Students can find undergraduate programs that offer internship opportunities. For example, interning with a publisher or graphic designer could help students gain hands-on training in the publishing field, as well as network with industry professionals.
Step 2: Find Entry-Level Employment
Layout designers find work in many areas, from manufacturing and engineering to the publishing and marketing business. Entry-level employees may receive some on-the-job training in preparing layouts under more experienced designers. New hires may be responsible for verifying manufacturer specifications and gaining proficiency with specific CAD or design software. Other duties may include working with other departments to maintain brand consistency across various layouts. If working in a technical capacity, designers will need to communicate with engineers to confirm their technical requirements.
Step 3: Gain Skills and Experience
As new hires gain experience, they take on more challenging duties, such as creating sketches or interpreting schematics. Designers can become specialized in a single part of the design process, such as creating preliminary drawings, preparing digital files, or using software to test technical equipment. When the opportunity comes, learn to use new software or technical aides in as many fields as possible.
The career of layout designer requires an employee to keep up with design tools and software even after obtaining a job and acquiring the necessary education and experience. When considering this career, plan on earning an associate or a bachelor's degree in graphic design or a related field in order to learn the necessary software and gain skill and experience with designs and drawings that are created for equipment, publications, and the Internet.