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5 Essential Skills for Graphic Designers

5 Essential Skills for Graphic Designers

Working in graphic design is a dream job for many creative individuals, but there are a few key skills you will need to develop before you can successfully work in graphic design.

According to PayScale, the average salary for a graphic designer is $40,238 per year, with a reported salary range of $25,844 to $59,454. If you work your way up the ladder, as a senior graphic designer you could earn between $38,000 and $82,000 per year. The top of the ladder for many graphic designers is the role of creative director, which boasts an average salary of $81,692 per year, with a reported salary range of $43,032 to $154,488. While the entry level salary may be on the lower side, there is a lot of potential for a lucrative career in graphic design if you can earn promotions.

Before you can get those promotions, however, read on for 5 of the most important skills for graphic designers.


First and foremost, graphic designers need creativity. It’s hard to come up with new ideas and innovative designs if you don’t know how to tap into your creative resources. Figuring out ways to keep your mind sharp and your ideas fresh will help you succeed in a design career. You don’t necessarily need artistic skills to land a job in graphic design, but you’ll want a general understanding of basic artistic elements to help translate that to the computer.


If you’re in design, you probably already know the running joke about Comic Sans. And there is a similar growing loathing of Papyrus for the design-savy. That’s why typography can make or break your design. Fonts go beyond just fun names and interesting scripts; a lot goes into the technical design behind each letter. You’ll need to understand terms such as kerning, line height, tracking, leading, white space, and more. Understanding how to find the right font – and knowing how to create your own – will go a long way in design success.


Having artistic skills on paper might help you with a career in graphic design, but most of the action takes place behind a computer screen. Understanding how to use the industry standard software will be crucial in landing your dream graphic design job. The most popular and well-known graphic design software comes from Adobe, with an entire creative suite including Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.

Web Design

These days, it’s not uncommon for graphic designers to also be web designers. Much of what you see on a website was designed by someone with graphic design skills, and plenty of designers also hold enough knowledge to work with HTML and CSS. Adding web design to your portfolio will only increase your chances of landing a graphic design job.


Understanding what a client wants from a design is the key to creating a successful product. It might be hard to talk to clients who don’t understand limitations or the right terminology, so you will have to be patient and learn how to really understand what a client wants for their design.

Don’t forget to check out openings on Monster to find graphic design jobs in your area. 

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