Graphic designers and illustrators create and produce images to communicate information. They structure and organize visuals to represent information through images.
Graphic designers may work in a range of areas including web and digital design, motion design, advertising, branding and marketing. Illustrators may specialize in children’s books, advertising, editorials and humour, medical, scientific and technical illustration, as well as multimedia and digital design.
Watch the video below to see what a graphic designer does in a day.
Estimated median employment income based on 2021 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))
Note:Estimated median employment income based on 2021 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))
Source: 2021 Job Bank Wage Report
Source: B.C. Labour Market Outlook
10 year expected job openings: 5,420
Graphic designers and illustrators work in many settings and on a range of projects – both long-term and short-term. They work in studios, offices or from home. Work hours tend to be Monday to Friday; however, some deadlines require overtime or working on a weekend/holiday.
People in these careers work for advertising and graphic design firms, large organizations with marketing and communications departments and digital production companies.
Many graphic designers and illustrators operate their own businesses. Some may work alone. Others may work for an agency of hundreds of designers working in multiple offices around the world.
People in these careers often work with public relations professionals on community engagement, issues and crisis communications. Visual elements – both online and printed – play a key role in making sure that information is clearly and effectively communicated to stakeholders.
Graphic designers and illustrators spend a significant amount of time, on computers at desks, doing work that requires intense concentration and hand-eye co-ordination. They may experience eye and wrist strain. Often, they face tight timelines, challenging projects or clients and stressful situations.
Source: 2016 Census
Graphic designers and illustrators typically require a university degree in visual arts, with a specialization or completion of a college diploma in graphic design, or equivalent.
Other professional requirements may include:
RGD Certification requires applicants to have a combination of seven years of relevant education and professional work experience. Applicants must take a test that is online, open book and multiple choice. A portfolio presentation is also required.
The CDP Certification through DesCan requires applicants to have a minimum of six years of combined education and professional practice experience. Applicants will be asked to submit five case studies of their work which will be reviewed by the National Certification Board review panel.
For more information about programs offered specifically for this career, visit EducationPlannerBC.
Every job calls for a certain set of skills. Knowing those skills is the first step in finding a good career fit.
Here, you will find the 35 most relevant workplace skills. Some are more important to achieving success in a certain career than others. These skills may come naturally to you or you may need to gain them through education, training and experience.
See the list of work-related skills below, ranked in order of importance for this career. You’ll also find the skill strength needed, letting you know how capable you must be in that skill.
Check out the list and see if this career matches your skills—take that first step!
Work for graphic designers and illustrators is affected when the economy slows down. However, demand in some areas remains stable. It’s helpful to know the creative industry. Research online, talk to professionals in the business and understand where you fit into this industry.
Individuals starting their careers may wish to join a professional organization like RGD, DesCan or the Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators (CAPIC). Access to workshops, peer mentoring and employment-related networking are important.
In a challenging employment field, individuals with more extensive education from credible organizations have a much greater chance of being hired.
Historically, job opportunities in design and illustration were concentrated in urban centres, but more opportunities for remote work are now available.
Many organizations, including banks and insurance companies, retailers and municipalities, now employ large numbers of graphic designers to implement and complete design projects in-house. Also, areas of specialization that are of particular interest right now are accessible design, sustainable practices, user experience (UX) design and 3D illustration.
Recent graduates can find junior positions in advertising and marketing agencies, graphic design studios, communication design firms, magazines, newspapers and in-house corporate teams.
Many entry-level graphic designers and illustrators choose self-employment as an option, building their client base straight out of school.
With experience and further education, individuals may progress to management or senior positions, such as senior designer, art director or creative director.