How to Become a Graphic Web Designer: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a graphic web designer. Research the education, career requirements, and experience required for starting a career as a web developer.

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  • 0:00 Should I Become a…
  • 1:08 Step 1: Complete an…
  • 2:01 Step 2: Gain Experience
  • 2:36 Step 3: Consider…

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Should I Become a Graphic Web Designer?

Graphic web designers, also known as web developers, create the visual concepts and designs that are featured on a website. To begin formulating ideas, web developers meet with clients to determine the message to be portrayed on their website. From there, they create potential designs and website features that would best highlight services and reach the target audience.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Associate's degree; more technical positions may require a bachelor's degree
Degree Field Website design, computer graphics, or a related field
Experience 0 to 2 years for junior-level positions; up to 5 years for senior-level roles
Key Skills Creativity; complex problem-solving, critical thinking, analysis, and programming skills; proficiency in HTML, CSS, and industry-specific software such as Adobe Suite
Median Salary (2015)* $64,970

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics*, O*NET OnLine, Online Job Postings (July 2015), (August 2015)

In addition to being creative, graphic web designers should have strong problem-solving, critical-thinking, and programming skills. Developers should have proficiency in HTML, the ability to use industry-specific software, and be able to keep up-to-date with new tools and programming languages.

Graphic web designers may also perform duties, such as writing codes using programming languages, monitoring website traffic and debugging website applications. These professionals typically work full-time in an office. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graphic web designers earned a median annual salary of $64,970 as of May 2015.

Step 1: Complete an Associate's Degree Program

An associate's degree in web design or a related field is typically required for most entry-level positions in web design. Formal entry into an associate's degree program in website design may require applicants to complete some related courses in high school, such as art and design. Common coursework in these programs include:

  • Web design
  • Animation
  • Digital imaging
  • Multimedia design
  • Programming concepts

These courses can enhance a student's ability to use different tools and techniques to create the layout for a website.

Aspiring graphic web designers should take the time to create a portfolio. Although counselors and teachers can help student designers assemble a portfolio while in high school, it's important for potential designers to develop a professional portfolio of postsecondary design work that highlights their skills.

Step 2: Gain Experience

While entry-level positions may not require experience other than skills gained through a degree program, employers expect Web designers to have a solid understanding of HTML and programming languages. To prepare for employment, students can demonstrate that they have practical experience by completing an internship while enrolled in undergraduate studies. Prospective designers may also choose to start their careers by offering freelance services and getting paid by assignment. This can further help graphic web designers develop a strong portfolio to secure permanent employment.

Step 3: Consider Earning a Bachelor's Degree

Graphic website design positions that involve more technical expertise may require a bachelor's degree. Some junior-level positions may require two years of experience, while senior-level roles may require up to five years of experience, so having a bachelor's degree can help with advancement. Besides a bachelor's degree in website design and development, individuals can complete a computer science bachelor's program with coursework in graphic design and programming. This could prove to be very beneficial, since some employers prefer candidates who have a knowledge of programming languages like SQL and Javascript and experience in multimedia software such as Adobe Flash.

In summary, graphic web designers develop and create websites while focusing on the site's layout, so pursuing either an associate's or bachelor's degree while developing a strong portfolio can help expand career opportunities.

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