Print Ad Designer: Job Description, Outlook and Requirements

Sep 23, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a print ad designer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and skills required to find out if this is the career for you.

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The age of Mad Men may be over, but print advertising continues to form a part of many marketing campaigns. To achieve a career as a print ad designer, you can earn a certificate, an associate's degree, or a bachelor's degree in graphic design, though a bachelor's degree is the standard requirement. Your degree can prepare you to work in electronic media as well as in print.

Essential Information

Print ad designers are graphic designers who create print advertisements based on a client's commercial goals. They can work as employees for advertising firms, public relations agencies, or as independent contractors producing ads that appear in newspapers, magazines, and other types of print media. A bachelor's degree is usually required for positions in graphic design; however, other types of educational programs are also available.

Required Education Bachelor's typically required
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 3% for all graphic designers
Mean Annual Salary (2018)* $55,750 for graphic designers in advertising and public relations

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for Print Ad Designers

Print ad designers use various font types, color palettes, photographs, and illustrations to create print advertisements. These designers often work as part of a creative team and report to a company's creative director. They might also collaborate with a copywriter to compose text for the ad, or they may write the copy themselves.

Print ad designers are often involved in meetings with a client, during which they assess the best way to promote a client's business or product to a particular consumer audience. Using elements of text and layout design, they create several mock-up advertisements with either design software or through simple sketches. These samples are then presented to the client, who chooses the design that will be used in the advertisement.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted the employment rate for graphic designers to increase by just 3% between 2018 and 2028 (www.bls.gov). Competition for employment in this field was expected to be high, with most of the jobs going to designers who have additional training in animation and website design. Due to the growing prevalence of electronic media use, many graphic design jobs include both Web and print design responsibilities, leaving fewer opportunities for those who have experience and training solely in print advertisements.

The BLS reported that the mean annual salary among graphic designers was $54,680 in May 2018. Those working in the advertising and public relations industry earned a mean annual salary of $55,750 a year.

Education Requirements for Print Ad Designers

A bachelor's degree is typically required for entry-level positions in this field. Most employers prefer designers who have formal training in design; because print ad designers utilize many different types of design elements. Many graphic design programs focus on working in electronic media, rather than print. However, most programs also cover design basics, type design, design software, typography, or commercial advertisement production, which could prove invaluable to prospective print ad designers.

Students can also pursue an associate's degree or certificate in graphic design. Programs typically take two to three years to complete, and are available online and in traditional classroom settings in design schools and colleges. Some programs require prerequisite high school design classes before candidates are considered for acceptance. Coursework usually includes text layout, color and illustration techniques, design fundamentals, and design software.

The highly competitive field of print ad design gives preference to those who can work with all kinds of formats, including print, electronic, web and animation. An associate's degree or certificate may be adequate for some jobs, but a bachelor's degree is the most common academic requirement.

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