Can a Programmer Become a Graphic Designer?

Some career paths can overlap with other professions, which may spark an interest. The prospect would provide you with an additional revenue stream and further advancement in your career. A prime example of profession overlap is programming and graphic design, but are these fields related enough for a quick career change?

A programmer can become a graphic designer. While there is some crossover between the two professions, further education may be needed to jump from one career to the other.

Let’s look at the similarities and differences between programmers and graphic designers. Keep reading to find out how a programmer might become a graphic designer.

Programming Vs. Graphic Design

Switching careers can require a lot of change and extensive education. However, if two professions have similar job descriptions and utilize similar tools, that change can seem less daunting. Additionally, you may only need to take a few courses in your off-time to educate yourself on your new career path.

Programming Job Description

Programmers typically collaborate with designers to discuss the needs and restrictions within the project, designers develop the design blueprint, and programmers put it into action.

Most industry professionals will tell you that graphic designing requires basic coding knowledge to create apps and websites. As a programmer, having extensive knowledge of computer languages will only make the transition that much easier— one less box to check. A programmer will use those computer languages to instruct programs on how to operate.

Graphic Design Job Description

Graphic design focuses more on the creative aspect of web design. Design requires knowledge of scripting languages and design software to develop the visual elements of an app or website like typography, graphics, and logos.

As a programmer turned graphic designer, you’ll have an intimate knowledge of the entire process from start to finish of creating products and services.

How a Programmer Becomes a Graphic Designer

If you want to transition from programming to graphic design, you may be wondering where you should start. The switch is easier than you might think, but there are key factors to consider before making your final decision.

1. Study With Graphic Design Programs

With graphic design focusing on the visual elements of products and services, either online or in print, you must be acquainted with the programs and languages needed to design.

There are various design programs on the market, but industry staples tend to be applications like:

Some programs may require more extensive study to learn all the functions.

2. Learning Scripting Languages

Scripting languages are necessary for graphic design, like JavaScript and Python. You can take online courses to learn design applications and script language. While you don’t need a degree in graphic design, you do need a solid grasp of design fundamentals.

3. Develop Your Branding Skills

In addition to learning applications, you will need to garner an understanding of branding and marketing. A great deal of graphic design is developing graphics, logos, and other visual elements for brands.

Branding is integral to marketing products and services to a target demographic, not only studying or developing the branding for a business but learning the psychology of advertising products and services to the desired customer base.

4. Meet With a Graphic Designer

Conversation with a graphic designer currently working in the industry could offer indispensable insight into the profession and give you a leg up when looking for work. Meeting with a fellow professional can focus your education on the most widely-used programs, the latest techniques and strategies, and much more.

Not only can they point you in the right direction, but they can also help you avoid some of the industry’s pitfalls. Avoid pitfalls by enlightening you on the common mistakes made when trying to break into the industry or redirecting your focus away from the wrong factors of graphic design.

5. Develop a Portfolio

When you’re looking for work, employers will want to see your skill as a graphic designer in the form of a portfolio. Your portfolio is your opportunity to showcase your versatility and creative prowess. In addition to your education, it is the primary factor in getting hired for a single or full-time job.

If you’re starting in graphic design, you may need to freelance or offer pro-bono work to have work to showcase in your portfolio. You could sign on for an internship if one is available to you or if you decide to go to design school, you can use your work from school projects.


Not only can a programmer become a graphic designer, but now you know how to transition your career. If you’re still debating the idea, you can get a taste for design with a website like and see if you develop a passion.