Is Being a Graphic Designer a Stable Career?

There was a time not too long ago when graphic design was more of an esoteric talent than a vocation. Now, it is a highly marketable, in-demand skillset with a broad range of applications that seemingly widens by the day. Online schools and digital content have made it easier than ever to learn graphic design in a class or on your own. Which begs the question, is being a graphic designer a stable career?

Being a graphic designer is a stable career simply because there are so many jobs that involve graphic design skills. From product packaging to corporate branding to software design, there is an ever-growing number of applications that call for the unique skillsets possessed by graphic designers.

Graphic design is about visual communication effected through expressive forms. In a world where so many things are consumed visually, this equates to a seemingly limitless number of applications. And there is much more to being a graphic designer than simply having artistic talent. In fact, modern graphic designers are more problem-solvers than artists and that puts them in high demand. Here’s the how and why.

Is Graphic Design a Stable Career? Here is the Answer

Thanks to the sheer number of different ways that graphic design skills can be utilized on a professional level, the short answer to this question is yes, graphic design is a stable career. Ours is a world where visual consumption of every imaginable form of expression is increasing at an exponential rate, particularly with the prominent roles that social media and digital content play in our everyday lives.

In fact, now more than ever, visual messaging not only needs to be impactful, but it also has to convey intended messages to target audiences as efficiently and effectively as possible. This makes graphic designers valuable additions to any company or organization for the broad range of skills that they bring to the table. Here are some examples of the unique and diverse skillsets  that modern graphic designers possess and which employers seek:

  • Creativity – one of the skills that are the most cherished by employers and clients alike is the ability of a graphic designer to come up with fresh ideas and innovative design concepts
  • Communication – the best graphic designers are effective communicators – able to transform clients’ ideas into visual concepts while constantly processing their feedback
  • Typography – fonts and typographical styling has a greater impact on overall visual messaging than most people realize and this is one of the many skills in graphic designers’ toolboxes
  • Design software – graphic designers today are aided by powerful design software and certain platforms like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign, are indispensable
  • Interactive media – as modern society transitions from printed media to interactive forms of communication, graphic designers will often be called upon to bridge the informational gap between target audiences and the companies that want to connect with them
  • Website design – one of the most powerful ways for companies and organizations to get the word out is through their online presence, consisting primarily of their website and digital collateral like landing pages, and graphic designers often collaborate with web designers to achieve the desired look and feel
  • Branding – this is one operational aspect where graphic designers prove their worth, by capturing the essence of a company’s or organization’s purpose and converting it into visual assets that are purposeful, memorable, and actionable
  • Storytelling – graphic designers are not only visual storytellers when it comes to developing content for the public eye, but they may also be called upon to interact directly with clients to collaborate on refining the message itself

In many ways, graphic designers are the Swiss army knives of the business world, particularly when it comes to matters that are in the public eye, such as marketing, and consumable content. As more companies and organizations progress toward digital communication and online platforms, the need for graphic designers to skillfully conform clients’ visual messaging to these new avenues figures to grow.

What Career Choices are Possible in Graphic Design?

While opportunities for graphic designers in industries involving traditional forms of media like printed publications may be waning, the opposite is true when it comes to the expanding reach of technology in the business world. As more and more companies embrace the need to establish a digital presence and adopt various forms of digital marketing, graphic design skillsets will be in higher demand.

One of the major reasons why being a graphic designer provides career stability is that rather than being a one-dimensional specialist working in a specific field, a graphic designer is a multi-faceted professional whose skill sets apply broadly to the ever-expanding realm of visual communication.

Put another way, a graphic designer’s primary function is to execute a client’s messaging through whatever visual means are necessary and most effective. This is a sampling of the types of positions held by graphic designers:

  • Advertising designer – influencing consumer opinions or behaviors through visual messaging
  • Brand designer – shape and influence the ways that the public perceives a company or organization and the products and services that they offer
  • Design manager – oversee the creative activities within a business or organization
  • Design researcher – make design-related decisions based on observations of end-user behavior
  • Experience designer – guide the consumer journey from start to finish through User Experience (UX) platforms
  • Exhibition, display, and wayfinding design – develop purpose-designed signage for placement in public spaces
  • Illustrator – convert ideas into visual assets that can be utilized for branding, marketing, and outreach purposes
  • Interface designer – develop and improve the ways that consumers interact with various forms of communication through User Interface (UI) platforms
  • Package designer – design the way that product packaging communicates with the end-consumer
  • Web designer – develop, design, and create the look and feel of a company’s or organization’s online presence

It is worth noting that while many graphic designers work as integral parts of in-house design teams, many professional designers work independently, either offering their services on a freelance basis or operating their own graphic design business.

Freelance Graphic Design

For graphic designers just starting out or looking for a path toward professional independence, freelancing is a viable career choice. But building a marketable portfolio that is representative of the polished and versatile skill sets you bring to any project is the first step toward success and one of the best ways to demonstrate your talents is through mockups, be they website re-designs, product packaging, or corporate branding collateral.

Passive Income Graphic Design

Another great way to make your graphic design more stable is to use your graphic design skills to create passive income streams.

There are plenty of opportunities to do this, however the most popular seems to be creating and selling t-shirt designs with print on-demand websites. Essentially, you create a bunch of catchy t-shirt designs with your design skills, and upload them to “print on-demand websites” (like Merch by Amazon, which is owned by Amazon) and customers can purchase your design on a t-shirt.

The “passive” part of this is due to print on-demand websites physically printing, shipping, and handling customer service of the t-shirt when a customer orders one. This means you only have to create the designs, upload them to the websites, and sit back and collect paychecks! Okay… it’s not that easy, but here’s a full tutorial on how to create and sell t-shirt designs online.

Final Thoughts

Graphic design is an exciting and rewarding field but one that requires the ability to meet challenges head-on. Graphic designers have versatile skill sets ranging from artistic to managerial and this makes them valuable members of any team tasked with the responsibility of shaping and delivering an organization’s message to its audience.