There are a few careers that need only dedication for you to be successful in them. A sound education, willingness to learn and the ability to work hard can lead to reasonable success in these areas. There are others that you should consider only if you are passionate about them, a case in point being medicine or nursing. Then there are professions that not only need passion and dedication, but a generous dose of talent. All creative professions, including graphic design, fall under this category.
For those who dream of becoming a graphic designer, the seeds were probably sown way back in childhood when they got their first A in art class.
From drawing pictures in your childhood that still adorn the walls of your home, if you’ve now reached a stage where your idea of fun involves tinkering with design tools on your computer creating fine works of art, then you’re the perfect candidate for a career in graphic design.
Graphic design is defined as visual communication by a combination of text and pictures. In other words, graphic design is the visual expression of a message, idea or concept. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then graphic designers are among the most prolific writers we know.
So if graphic design is what you want to do for the rest of your life, then it’s time to start the action. Here’s a three step approach on how to become a graphic designer.
Step 1: Get Informed
The first step to becoming a graphic designer is collecting relevant information – and lots of it – about the profession. Some questions you might want to find answers to include:
What is the nature of work?
What kind of career opportunities do they have?
What is their earning potential?
What kind of training is needed?
Some research on the Internet will yield answers for most of these questions. You can also interview industry experts for first-hand insights. Career counselors and admissions consultants may also be able to provide helpful information about the profession.
Step 2: Get Qualified
The second step towards becoming a graphic designer is acquiring the necessary qualification for it. There are a few things you must know about this profession before you apply for a suitable program. Creativity alone is not enough to succeed in this field. You need to combine it with computer skills and business knowledge.
Expertise in using different design tools and computer software programs is as important for a new age graphic designer as talent. Since the job of a graphic designer involves understanding client requirements and the target audience, business knowledge is also desirable.
That’s why it’s vital to choose a graphic arts degree that will provide you a solid foundation in web design techniques, computer skills, and business principles.
Although many professionals are able to get their foot in the door with short-term professional certifications in graphic arts, getting a college degree will definitely boost your marketability. Most colleges and universities offer two graphic arts programs – an Associate’s degree and a Bachelor’s degree in graphic arts and design.
An Associate’s degree qualifies graduates for assistant graphic designer positions from which they can work their way up. A Bachelor’s degree is the minimum credential required for most entry-level and advanced graphic design jobs.
Step 3: Get Experienced
Gone are the days when your academic achievements alone could get you plum positions in big organizations. Employers these days look for hands-on industry experience along with academic credentials, especially if you belong to an applied field like graphic arts.
Becoming a graphic designer will take more than a degree or a certificate. The sooner you start building a portfolio, the better will be your chances in the job market. Some graphic arts programs may provide externships for students to get their hands dirty with design while still in college.
If your school doesn’t have such a provision, then you can approach a media or software company for a free intern position. Not only will you get some valuable on the job lessons in graphic arts, you’ll also be able to make contacts for future use. Once you’re fairly comfortable working independently, try and get some freelance assignments even if you’re not paid for them. Having an impressive portfolio of work will do for a graphic artist’s career what getting straight A’s in school cannot!