How to Become a Graphic Designer.

Anyone with a passion for the visual arts, a hunger for outside-the-box ideas, and an eye for detail might have wondered, “Where can I learn graphic design?” The good news is that becoming a graphic designer is well within reach. Today’s technology has not only expanded the scope of available careers in graphic design, but graphic design certification programs online have also made it more feasible to master these skills. All you need is the drive and desire to learn.

The Adobe Certified Professional program can help guide you toward becoming a graphic designer. Whether you’re just getting started or you’re ready to get certified in graphic design and illustration using Adobe Illustrator, we’re here to help you succeed.

What’s a graphic designer?

Graphic or digital designers are industry professionals within the realm of visual arts. They blend technical skills and creative talents to design informative, appealing, and memorable content. They work with clients, art directors, and other designers to develop a project's overall look and feel. To create the final product, they assemble visual elements like text, typography, animations, images, web pages, and motion graphics.

Common graphic designer jobs include:

  • Animators create animated content for film, television, video games, and other mediums. They use apps like Adobe After Effects and Maya to bring character sand objects to life.
  • Production artists work in the print and advertising industries, creating layouts for print materials such as brochures, billboards, and magazine ads. They use apps  like Adobe InDesign and Illustrator to create these layouts.
  • Product designers create visual designs for physical products, such as consumer electronics, home goods, and toys. They use 3D modeling apps like Adobe Substance 3D, Solidworks, and Rhino to create detailed models of their designs.
  • Multimedia designers create interactive content for websites, mobile apps, and other digital platforms. They use apps like Adobe Animate and programming languages like HTML/CSS to create engaging and interactive experiences.
  • UX/UI designers focus on the user experience and interface design for digital products. They use apps like Adobe XD and Figma to create intuitive, user-friendly interfaces that make it easy for people to navigate and interact with digital products.
  • Creative/art directors are responsible for the overall creative vision and direction of a project. They lead a team of designers and work closely with clients to develop concepts and ensure consistency in the final product.
  • Brand identity designers develop visual identities for companies, organizations, and products. They create logos, color palettes, typography, and other visual elements that are used across all marketing materials. They use apps like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to create these elements.

Why is graphic design an in-demand career?

In the current job market, skilled graphic designers are in demand. Most of us constantly consume media in many forms, whether online, on TV, in books, or in the products we buy at the store. Without graphic designers, none of this media would exist as we know it.

Graphic design is a broad field, with designers working in many different areas. Most graphic design professionals understand a range of design types, and this versatility helps them market their skills. They’re essential to developing the engaging marketing campaigns that contribute to the success of almost every type of business.

With a career in graphic design, you can make a difference by creating content that shapes people’s perceptions, feelings, and actions. And with digital tools and the recent rise of remote work, you can often work from anywhere in the world.

What does a graphic designer do?

Graphic designers are thinkers and storytellers who use their unique artistic abilities to create stunning works of art. Generally speaking, they enhance the visual appearance of information or messages. However, the specific functions of a graphic designer vary based on industry.

For example, publishers need designers to create print and digital books, newspapers, and magazines that delight and support readers' interests. Within the marketing industry, designers help companies and clients connect with consumers and stand out from competitors through innovative branding of products and services. Design within advertising promotes commercial products through packaging and other visual elements.

Five steps to becoming a graphic designer.

Even if you have an aesthetic vision and a handle on design principles, becoming a graphic design professional requires that you cover all the bases. If you’re seeking more education in graphic design or information on how to succeed, explore the steps below.

1. Understand the elements of design.

Grasping graphic design theory is foundational to success in the design industry. This involves understanding how design elements and principles best interact to create clean, quality, digestible designs for a given platform.

The following design elements are the fundamental building blocks of proper design composition:

  • Line
  • Color
  • Value
  • Shape
  • Texture
  • Space
  • Form
Along with understanding these basic elements, it’s also essential to design with the user and audience in mind. Keep accessibility at the forefront to ensure that everyone — including those with visual impairments — can navigate your design and copy.

2. Gain technical skills.

It isn’t easy to truly excel in graphic design without some key technical skills under your belt. Mastering some of the best graphic design programs like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign is a great place to start. There are plenty of ways to practice these apps with hands-on learning.

Some areas in which graphic designers may need technical skills include:

  • Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Art direction
  • llustration
  • Marketing materials
  • Packaging
  • Projectmanagement
  • Social media
  • Typesetting
  • Digital design
  • Website design

3. Build an online portfolio.

If your professional portfolio genuinely showcases the type of work you can do, there’s no limit to what it can feature. It can include client work, unique designs, passion projects, and more. If you haven’t had a client yet, create a mockup or potential project on your own time.

Whatever route you choose, don’t stop crafting designs and pushing creative boundaries. Graphic design skills grow with patience and experimentation, and practice will help you establish a well-rounded portfolio for employers to admire.

4. Find your specialty.

One of the most exciting aspects of graphic design is the vast range of media and platforms to explore. From computer animation to art for physical products, graphic design specialties include:
  • Hand lettering
  • Packaging design
  • Brand identity and logo design
  • Print design for publications
  • Web and mobile app design

5. Get certified and improve your resume.

Want to level up your resume as a graphic designer? Wondering which certification would advance a career in graphic design? In addition to gaining real-world experience with client work or personal projects, back up your skills and know-how with graphic design certification programs online.

Adobe Certified Professional provides exam guides and practice tests. In collaboration with the test specialists at Certiport, we’ve identified the crucial concepts and professional skills required to master modern design apps. Discover how to get certified in Illustrator.

Once you become certified, proudly display your credentials on your resume to stand out among peers and job candidates. For dedicated and versatile designers, elevate your craft further with Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign certifications to receive a specialty credential as an Adobe Certified Professional in Visual Design.

Frequently asked questions

Will AI replace designers?

Artificial intelligence (AI) will never fully replace graphic designers. Instead, AI can assist in workflow processes and overall efficiency.

For example, if an AI tool learns an organization’s branding guidelines, it could seamlessly cross-check designs to ensure that they adhere to these guidelines.

Do I need a degree to be a graphic designer?

Not all graphic designers hold a specialized degree, and this lack of a degree requirement may be confusing when trying to determine how to succeed without one. If you’ve looked into online graphic design certification programs, you might wonder which certification would advance a career in graphic design.

Fortunately, official programs like Adobe Certified Professional enable aspiring graphic designers to become certified in Illustrator and other Creative Cloud apps through hands-on training and testing. As an Adobe Certified Professional, you can demonstrate your expertise and credibility as a graphic designer.

More questions?

Become an Adobe Certified Professional.

Certification is more accessible than ever before. Schedule an online exam or visit a Certiport Authorized Testing Center to showcase your skills.