Graphic Designer Vs Programmer

Graphic designers and programmers work with computers to produce images or software for clients and employers, although in different capacities. Find out more about the similarities and differences between these computer-centered careers.

Comparing Graphic Designers to Programmers

Graphic designers and programmers both work extensively with computer programs or systems to design visual displays. Graphic designers use software to create artwork, while programmers focus on computer languages to tell computers and programs how to operate. Further down you will find a few similarities and differences between these two careers that use computers to a high degree.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Graphic Designer Bachelor's degree $47,640 1%
Programmer Bachelor's degree $79,840 (for all computer programmers) -8% (for all computer programmers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Graphic Designers vs. Programmers

While both graphic designers and programmers utilize computers to make digital products for clients, their work comes to fruition differently. Graphic designers work in studios either for a business or themselves at home where they spend time designing and drafting digital images. They meet with clients to make sure the art they produce is on target. Programmers, on the other hand, work primarily alone, using computer code to program software. Their goal is to tell a computer or program how to function rather than to produce artwork.

Graphic Designer

Graphic designers are trained to use computer programs to create artwork, such as logos, brochures and original designs. They meet with clients or employers to make sure that the images they produce meet the vision of those who have hired them. They may design an entire layout, selecting details like the color scheme and fonts for words. Often, their work is purposed for print or websites. Graphic designers may work regular full-time hours, but they may need to work more than this depending on deadlines and workload.

Job responsibilities of a Graphic Designer include:

  • Use software for layout design or photo editing
  • Present their designs to clients or employers
  • Follow the changes submitted to them by clients or employers
  • Review their work before turning it in or publishing it
  • Stay up to date with the newest technologies and software


Programmers use computer code and languages to configure computer systems and programs. They usually know one or more computer languages, such as Java or C++. Not only can they create programs from scratch, but they know how to fix errors within existing programs or make programs run more efficiently. They may work on simple projects, such as apps for mobile devices, or complicated ones, such as a computer operating system. Programmers often work closely with software developers, sometimes performing some of the same duties.

Job responsibilities of a Programmer include:

  • Update programs that already exist
  • Use code libraries to make their work easier
  • Test new code
  • Design and confirm functionality of code using an integrated development environment (IDE)

Related Careers

Those intrigued by a career as a graphic designer might also think about becoming a computer drafter, since both use computers to design images. Someone who likes what a programmer does might also like what a Java certified web developer does, since both use computer code to influence digital programs.

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