Becoming a Digital Designer: What You Need to Know

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover a career as a digital designer and learn more about what the job entails, the education required, and how you can get started.

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Digital designers combine technology and imagination  to create media meant to be viewed on a screen or digital interface. This can include web design, animation, interactive elements, or 2-D or 3-D models. Several different roles fall under the umbrella of digital design, including:

  • Web designer

  • App designer

  • User experience (UX) or user interface (UI) designer

  • Interaction designer

  • Graphic designer

  • Product designer

  • Animation designer

Digital design can be considered the next evolution of graphic design. This career takes the same skills and understanding of print design and brings those visions to life with interactivity, three-dimensional modeling, and animation.  Whether you’re creating banner ads, movies, or other interactive elements of a webpage or app, you’ll be sharing messages with an audience using modern methods that rely on data to measure your success. Learn more about being a digital designer with this article. 

Digital designer skills

Employers or clients seeking digital designers want professionals who are prepared with a wide range of technical skills. To secure a job as a digital designer, you must be able to demonstrate a mastery of both client relations and today’s most used tools.

Technical skills and common tools

Set yourself apart as a digital designer by demonstrating that you’ve mastered specific technical skills and software programmes used to create interactive designs. These technical skills require both training and application. You can present a portfolio of your work experience to potential clients and employers to show your skills in areas such as:

  • Layout and navigation

  • Colour and typography

  • Design principles

  • Mobile-first design

  • Design software

  • HTML, CSS, or JQuery

Workplace skills

A strong portfolio can demonstrate an ability to complete tasks and create beautiful designs, but employers and clients also require other skills that budding professionals can include in their resumes. These workplace skills are more difficult to measure but can make the difference in an effort to secure more work:


  • Communication: Digital designers often collaborate with larger teams. Learning to ask direct questions, listen actively, and present your designs to others can make for a better workplace environment.

  • Customer service: The most effective digital designers listen carefully to client requests and requirements, deliver professional advice, and accept constructive criticism, all in an effort to delight the client with the finished product. 


  • Flexibility and creativity: Digital design is innovative by its very nature. You’ll always be learning new tools, software systems, and new technologies. Learn to see yourself as a lifelong learner, and plan on discovering new ways of working whenever possible.

Digital designer education 

On your path to landing a job as a digital designer, you can benefit from programmes, certifications, and diplomas to help further your education. 

Degree programs

Breaking into a creative field often requires a strong portfolio of work demonstrating success, and you could gain such experience through the right degree programme. While a degree isn't always necessary to become a digital designer, earning an advanced diploma or degree in a design-related field could open up new job opportunities. Some of the offerings you’ll find in digital design courses include:

  • Diploma level courses

    • Advanced Diploma in Graphic Design

    • Undergraduate Integrated Diploma in Graphic and Digital Design

    • Diploma in 2D Animation

  • Certificate level courses

    • Certificate in Graphic Design

    • 3D Graphic Design

    • Certificate course in 3D Modeling and Animation

  • Bachelor level courses

    • BDes in Graphic Design

    • BSc in Graphic Design

    • BVA in Graphic Design

  • Maser level courses

    • MDes in Graphic Design

    • MA in Graphic Design

    • MCA in Animation/Web

Entrance exam courses

To enroll in a design course, you may need one or more of the following entrance exams. Each school you apply to may have different requirements, so be sure to check which exams you need.

  • NID Entrance Exam

  • AIEE

  • IIAD Entrance Exam

  • Pearl Academy Entrance Exam

  • TDV Entrance Exam

Freelance opportunities vs. full-time employment

Digital designers have a wide variety of work opportunities, including UI design, photography, and more. The question for many is whether it’s better to land a job with a specific company or work as a freelancer. Let’s look at some details about freelancing:

Benefits of freelancingChallenges of freelancing
Flexibility to choose projects and clientsLack of employer-provided benefits
Ability to determine the value of your timeNeed to seek new work continually
Remote working opportunitiesChallenges with balancing work and personal life
Creating your own scheduleTax implications, depending on your home country

Get started in digital design

Build job-ready digital design skills for your resume and portfolio with a course from a top company or university on Coursera. Depending on what area of digital design interests you, consider the Google UX Design Professional Certificate. When completed, you can begin applying for a position as a digital designer. 

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