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Graphic designer

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Summary of occupation

Graphic designers specialise in any of a number of artistic and professional disciplines which focus on visual communication and presentation. They work in a range of visual media, including drawing, painting, photography, digital media or a combination of all these to create and combine symbols, images and text. These are used as visual representations of ideas and messages, often for magazines, advertisements, product packaging, websites or public display. They also prepare comprehensive layouts of designs, liaise with clients about a desired design, prepare designs for print and supervise the printing.

ANZSCO description: Plans, designs, develops and prepares information for publication and reproduction using text, symbols, pictures, colours and layout to achieve commercial and communication needs with particular emphasis on tailoring the message for the intended audience.
Alternative names: Graphic Artist
Specialisations: Exhibition Designer, Film and Video Graphics Designer, Publication Designer
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

Graphic designers need:

  • a strong visual focus and creative flair
  • the ability to think laterally and come up with creative solutions
  • competency in a range of design programs
  • knowledge of art history, various design styles and their rules
  • the ability to work well under pressure
  • to be able to work to tight deadlines.
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Working conditions

Graphic designers work in an office or studio space, depending on their employer or, if they are self-employed, can work from home. They usually work with computers and need to be proficient with a range of specialist design software. Their work environment should have excellent lighting.

Graphic designers may be required to work long hours if they are on a strict deadline and may be required to produce designs within a quick turnaround period. Graphic designers may either work as part of a larger design team, specialising in one particular aspect of design, or they may work alone, covering all aspects of a design project. As is the case in many creative industries, demand for these designers can vary according to client need.

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Salary details

On average, graphic designers can expect to earn between $865 and $1 250 per week ($45 000 and $65 000 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a graphic designer develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Graphic designers require a strong visual sense, and depending on their specific role or the type of design in which they specialise, they will usually need to know how to use drawing and possibly drafting tools. These tools may include drawing boards, rulers, protractors, compasses, metric templates and other drawing tools, and possibly computer-aided design (CAD).

In addition, graphic designers will also require a working knowledge of design software such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Corel Draw, Painter, FireWorks, Flash or 3D Studio Max. Increasingly, graphic designers are also required to be familiar with code used to develop web pages such as HTML and CSS.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a graphic designer, you usually need to complete a formal qualification in graphic design.

The Certificate IV in Design (Graphic Design), the Diploma of Graphic Design and the Advanced Diploma of Graphic Design are offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.

You can complete a degree majoring in graphic design or creative advertising and graphic design.

Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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