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Graphic Artists: Job & Career Info

Learn about the job duties of a graphic artist. Explore educational requirements, employment outlook and salary data to see if this is the right career option.

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Career Definition of a Graphic Artist

A career as a graphic artist includes job duties like composing the layout of graphic and printed materials and developing design and color concepts for materials. Additional duties often include monitoring production timelines for projects and analyzing techniques used in the production process. Graphic artists also need to collaborate with other staff in major divisions of a company such as marketing, sales, and business operations.

Field of Education Graphic, visual or commercial art
Duties Graphic design, layout and development for materials
Median Salary 2015* $46,900 (all graphic designers, including graphic artists)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 1% growth (all graphic designers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

For most entry-level positions, required education for a career in graphic art is a bachelor's or associate's degree in graphic, visual, or commercial art, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It usually takes a minimum of 24 months and 48 months to complete an associate's or bachelor's degree program in graphic art, respectively. Coursework for this career can include courses in digital photography, graphic illustration, digital imaging, and web design.

Skills Required

Graphic artists need to be detail-oriented and creative thinkers. They must also be able to plan, organize, and analyze ideas, as well as have experience with graphic art software, like Adobe InDesign and Photoshop.

Career and Economic Outlook

The BLS reported that the median annual salary among graphic designers, with whom graphic artists are included, was $46,900 in May 2015. The Bureau also projected employment growth of about 1% among graphic designers from 2014-2024. The type of graphic design an individual does will be a significant factor in job availability. For example, designers in publishing could see a decline in employment of 35%, while those working in computer systems design and related service companies will see growth of about 21% during the 2014-2024 decade.

Alternative Careers

Other careers within this field include:

Art Director

Art directors perform similar work as graphic artists, but they specialize in the layout and design of images and text for commercial packaging, newspapers, magazines and entertainment industry projects. A bachelor's degree in fine arts and entry-level experience in related design fields is usually necessary to move into this line of work. Although the BLS only predicts a 2% increase in employment of art directors from 2014 to 2024, those who can transition to online publication and website work will find more job opportunities. The median salary for this career was $89,760 in 2015, as reported by the BLS.

Multimedia Artists and Animators

For artists who want to expand into the digital realm, multimedia art and animation is a career option. Multimedia artists create visual elements and effects for video games, movies, television and other digital media. Although a strong art portfolio is a major asset when entering this field, many artists also earn a bachelor's degree in computer graphics or fine art.The BLS only predicts a 6% increase in employment of multimedia artists and animators from 2014-2024. While only about 64,400 of these artists and animators were employed in 2014, according to the BLS, they did earn a median salary of $63,970 that year.

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