Each month we take a look at one of the 650 career pathways featured within Indigo. This month, we explore the role of a graphic designer.

Designer Matt Doherty shares his insights with this video career profile from the Indigo Careers module.

So what is a graphic designer?

Graphic designers produce original images and designs for use in publications and other materials such as leaflets, brochures, websites, logos and stationery. Most work is now done on a computer, although manual techniques are occasionally used.

You will need a thorough understanding of clients’ needs in order to develop appropriate designs for specific projects.

You will be responsible for producing time and budget schedules and ensuring that they are adhered to.


The majority of graphic designers work 37 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You will be expected to work overtime in order to meet deadlines. Part-time work is available and many experienced designers become freelancers.


Most of your work will take place at a computer and drawing board within a studio. However, you may undertake external research in order to gain inspiration for a project and you will also be required to attend client meetings to present your ideas.

Type of work

You will form part of a creative team.

Things to consider

Creating original work and seeing your ideas being used in the public eye is satisfying.

Very competitive
Competition is becoming increasingly fierce as the number of available qualifications in this field rises.

Exciting projects/opportunities
If you are highly successful you could have the chance to re-brand household names and logos.

Some work outside regular hours
You will have to work overtime to complete projects to the client’s deadline.

Most people have an undergraduate degree and you will need previous experience/passion for the field

The majority of entrants have a degree in a visual arts subject such as graphic design, fine art, illustration or 3D design. Entry without a higher education qualification is possible if you have an exceptional portfolio but progression is difficult without formal training. The minimum requirements for a degree are usually 2 A levels/3 H grades, including an art-related subject, and 5 GCSEs/National 5s. It is also recommended to complete a Foundation diploma or BTEC National in art and design, as entry to an undergraduate art degree without these qualifications is rare.


Salary progression
A junior designer can expect to earn £15,000–£19,000 at the start of their career.

As you gain experience in the field, your salary could increase to £20,000–£35,000.

Senior graphic designers can earn £35,000–£55,000 and creative directors can make in excess of £60,000 per year. Earnings vary according to the type and size of employer and geographical location. Salaries tend to be higher within in-house design teams than in design agencies.

Top Tip

The Chartered Society of Designers advertise courses and competitions via their social media accounts, as well as publishing useful articles.

Click here to explore the full library of over 650 career profiles, including multimedia content and LMI data for students to interpret and discuss.