What Does a Graphic Designer Do? And How Do I Become One?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

A graphic designer creates visuals for various projects, from websites to print ads and more. In this article, you will learn about skills, salary, requirements, and why you should consider a career in this field in India.

[Featured image] A graphic designer sits at their computer in an office with a notebook and a coffee cup.

Combining art and technology, graphic designers use various design elements to create distinctive visuals for clients and companies. A graphic designer can work with print or digital media, and they can create their designs by hand or using computer software. Staying on top of cutting-edge technology and design trends makes working in this evolving industry an exciting and challenging career choice.

What does a graphic designer do?

Using various technologies, a graphic designer creates useful, meaningful, and functional visuals. The work depends mainly on a client or company's needs, but general designer responsibilities may include:

  • Developing visual assets to support a marketing campaign

  • Designing a graphic overlay for social media posts

  • Formalising a print ad layout and retouching photos for digital signage 

What is graphic design?

Graphic design is a form of communication that uses colours, shapes, images, and words to create visual content that surrounds us in many forms—namely, print and digital media. Effective designs communicate information that inspires and informs consumers, making it critical for any business' success.

Graphic designers create images and layouts for some of the following:

  • Company brand identity (logos, typography, and colour palettes)

  • User interfaces on apps and websites

  • Books, magazines, newspapers, and other publications

  • Product packaging

  • Advertisements and commercials

  • Signage for stores, transportation, stadiums, and event spaces

  • Video games

Where do graphic designers work?

Graphic designers can work in many settings. You may work in-house at a company or agency or home as a freelancer. Graphic designers often work in:

  • Ad agencies

  • Web design firms

  • Marketing firms

  • Print and online publishers

  • Online and brick-and-mortar retailers

  • Non-profit organisations

Skills needed to become a graphic designer: A to Z

If you’re naturally creative and have a good eye for visually compelling design, a career in graphic design may suit you well. Nurture your talent as a graphic designer by spending time building a few key skills.

  • Audience targeting helps you identify and analyse who the design is intended to appeal to and why. 

  • Colour theory is a series of rules and guidelines you’ll apply to your work to create aesthetically pleasing visuals. This involves choosing an appropriate colour palette for a project and understanding how people perceive colour in various situations.

  • Communication skills help you communicate, actively listen, problem-solve, and understand what clients and stakeholders need when collaborating on a project. 

  • Computer-aided design (CAD) software helps you create complex two- and three-dimensional designs. Some computer software programs used in graphic design include Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Paintshop Pro, and Corel Graphics Suite.

  • Computerised sketching gives you creative flexibility that sketching and colouring by hand cannot offer. Sketching software also allows you to implement changes to a design quickly.

  • Layout helps you to effectively manipulate the visual space of a print page or screen to attract readers or visitors.

  • Typeface design helps you tell appropriate, pleasing, and easy-to-read stories using the right font and typeface categories.

  • Website development gives you the knowledge to design on various content management platforms. Although it may only sometimes be necessary, understanding multiple programming languages, such as HTML and CSS, can go far. 

Why pursue a career in graphic design?

When you pursue a career in graphic design, you get to flex your creative skills and put them to use while learning and implementing new technologies in your work. If you want a critical hand in shaping how a company, brand, or product comes across to the world, it’s worth pursuing a career in graphic design. 

How much do graphic designers make?

The average graphic designer's salary in India is ₹3,05,905 per year as of October 2023 [1]. Many variables can make a difference in earnings, including your experience level. For example, the average salary for a graphic designer with less than one year of experience is ₹2,41,343, while the average salary for a late-career graphic designer with 20 or more years of experience is ₹4,69,843 [1].

Job outlook for graphic designers

The global graphic design market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4.5 per cent through 2029, and India should be no exception [2]. Demand can depend on locations. Larger cities, such as Bangalore, may have more need for graphic artists.

How to become a graphic designer?

While everyone’s path to becoming a graphic designer may vary, below is a common and straightforward way to get into this exciting career. 

Educational background

Many graphic designers need a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field to work at a top company. Earning a degree helps you build foundational skills for a career and gives you opportunities to begin building a portfolio of work to show potential employers.

Freelance graphic designers can benefit from a strong portfolio to show to potential clients. Certificate programmes in graphic design can also boost your credentials.

Some public colleges offer graphic design programmes, however, private schools offer most programmes. 

Make the most of a graphic design education

Though enrolled in a design programme, there are some things you can do to make yourself more competitive when you’re job-hunting for a graphic design position.

  • Consider an internship that will allow you to work with more experienced designers in a real-world setting.

  • Volunteer your design skills to local charitable organisations.

  • Pursue certification in popular graphic design products like Adobe.

  • Join a design organisation. Membership often comes with access to networking and professional development opportunities. For example, you can join the Association of Designers of India (ADI) as a student, professional, or affiliate. 

Career paths in graphic design

Being a graphic designer can open doors to numerous careers and industries. You can advance into managerial positions within a company's design department, like a creative director or project manager. Many graphic designers have expanded into new and exciting fields, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), where visuals make up interactive experiences. 

Get started with Coursera

Choosing a graphic design career empowers you to use your creativity to help companies communicate their messages to customers. Get started in the creative world of graphic design with the Graphic Design Specialisation from the California Institute of the Arts. Complete a Guided Project to enhance your professional portfolio in less than two hours.

Article sources


Payscale. “Average Graphic Designer Salary in India, https://www.payscale.com/research/IN/Job=Graphic_Designer/Salary.” Accessed October 18, 2023, 2023.

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