Careers in Advertising Design: Job Options and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to have a career in advertising design. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and prospects to find out if this is the career for you.

Advertising design careers involve arranging the visual elements found in ads, writing commercial scripts and overseeing ad production. Graphic designers, art directors and copywriters may all work in this field.

Essential Information

Advertisements are made by teams of creative professionals, such as graphic designers, art directors and copywriters, for a variety of media. Read on to learn more about these advertising design careers and how to prepare for them.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in related field
Other Requirements Business administration skills
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 1% for graphic designers
Average Salary (2015)* $51,640 annually for graphic designers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Graphic Designers

Graphic designers often use software programs to manipulate typography, colors, images and other visual elements to compose designs that convey messages. Graphic designers may communicate with clients to determine their needs so they can effectively target the advertising. Graphic designers may also perform research to better understand the target market. They meet with art directors and other advertising design team members to go over ideas and discuss budget considerations.


Most entry-level graphic designer jobs require candidates to have a bachelor's degree in graphic design, visual communications or a similar field. The curriculum typically includes color theory and application, design elements, illustration, typography, graphic design history, production design, Web graphics, graphic design business practices and advertising principles. Many programs emphasize development of proficiency in design-related software programs and portfolio creation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that employers determine whether to hire candidates by the strength of their portfolios (

The BLS expects job opportunities for graphic designers to increase by 1% between 2014 and 2024. May 2015 data from the BLS shows that these designers earned an average annual salary of $51,640.

Art Director

Art directors formulate design concepts, create specifications and oversee advertisements through the production cycle. Supervising graphic designers and copywriters, they have the final say over all aspects of the design and ensure that they conform to specifications. In addition to acting as managers, art directors contribute graphic design work. After the design is complete, the art director may meet with the client to present the finished product and confirm the client's satisfaction.


Art directors typically start out as entry-level designers who demonstrate exceptional creative skills and leadership talents. According to the BLS, some art directors complete programs in arts administration or management to learn project management and other business administration skills.

The BLS projects a slower-than-average 2% increase in employment of art directors during the 2014-2024 decade. As reported by the BLS, art directors earned a mean salary of $101,990 as of 2015.


Copywriters compose the text within the advertisement. They work with the client to create slogans and themes that help market products in all media, including print, online and television. Copywriters consult with clients to learn about their products and their customers. Additionally, copywriters meet with other advertising staff members to discuss the copy's style, length and graphic components. They use the appropriate language and tone for the medium, the target market and the type of product. When drafts aren't approved by supervisors, they edit and revise as appropriate.


The BLS states that copywriters typically need at least a bachelor's degree. Advertising, public relations and related fields are possible majors for copywriters. Some schools offer degrees in advertising with a copywriting concentration. Classes may include persuasive writing, advertising research, visual communication, creative thinking, print copywriting and broadcast copywriting. Copywriters also need excellent computer skills and knowledge of electronic publishing, Web design and multimedia software.

The BLS reported that writers and authors could see a slower-than-average 2% increase in employment from 2014 to 2024. The mean salary for writers in 2015 was $69,130.

A career as a graphic designer, copywriter or art director requires a bachelor's degree in a relevant field. While graphic designers may study fine art to build their portfolio and develop their skills, a copywriter may minor copywriting while pursuing a major in areas like advertising or public relations. Arts directors can benefit from training in arts administration.

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