Similar Occupations to a Graphic Designer

Looking for career options in similar occupations to a graphic designer? This guide explores several paths where your design skills can thrive. From UX design to product design, learn how you can pivot your expertise into these rewarding roles.

  • Graphic designers have a wide array of career options to transition into, including roles such as product designer, UX designer, UI designer, digital designer, frontend web developer, motion graphics designer, illustrator, art director, multimedia animator, brand identity designer, and freelance graphic designer.
  • Transitioning from graphic design to these related fields often involves building on existing visual design skills while acquiring additional expertise in areas such as coding, user experience design, animation, and branding.
  • Many of these roles are in high demand across various industries, including tech, automotive, advertising, entertainment, and e-commerce, offering diverse opportunities for professional growth and creativity.

Product Designer

Product designers, with their essential contribution to the creation and development of new products, stand at the forefront of innovation. Their responsibilities encompass a wide range of tasks, including:

  • UX/UI design
  • Coding
  • Project management
  • Creative problem-solving

Companies such as HubSpot have product designers who delve into user research, identifying problems, designing prototypes, and testing solutions through feedback sessions. This iterative design process ensures that the final product meets user needs and expectations.

In dynamic environments such as startups and major product-based corporations, the demand for product designers is skyrocketing. They are also highly sought after in software companies and the automotive industry. This role requires a blend of creativity and technical skills, making it an ideal career path for those with a background in graphic design, as well as other designers who enjoy tackling complex problems and bringing innovative ideas to life.

Transitioning from a graphic designer to a product designer can be a natural progression, especially if you have experience with UX/UI design and a knack for coding. Many product designers start as graphic designers or digital designers, leveraging their design careers to pivot into this multifaceted role. If you enjoy creating designs that not only look good but also function seamlessly, product design might be the perfect next step in your design career.

Graphic Artist vs Graphic Designer

Graphic Designers are the architects of visual communication who harness typography, photography, and illustration to solve problems and convey ideas clearly. They are heavily involved in creating advertisements, corporate branding, and web layouts.

On the other side of the spectrum are Graphic Artists. These professionals thrive on the freedom of artistic expression, creating original content that might not have the direct purpose of promoting or selling. Graphic artists often find themselves in the realms of media production, fine arts, and entertainment, crafting everything from book illustrations to conceptual art in films.

The core difference lies in the intent behind the work. Graphic designers focus on strategic communication, aiming to influence consumer behavior or communicate a brand’s message. Conversely, graphic artists focus on aesthetic appeal and artistic innovation without the confines of commercial goals.

Furthermore, while both may use similar tools like Adobe Creative Suite, the techniques and outcomes can vastly differ. Graphic artists may venture into more experimental art techniques, whereas designers might prioritize functionality and brand consistency.

UX Designer vs Graphic Designer

Graphic designers captivate and communicate through visual concepts, while UX designers prioritize the user’s experience and satisfaction. Their primary goal is to ensure that users have an exceptional and intuitive interaction with a product. This involves designing wireframes, creating customer journey maps, and developing high-fidelity mockups that guide the development team. UX designers act as the user’s advocate throughout the product development process, constantly seeking ways to enhance the overall user experience.

Opportunities for UX designers are abundant in various sectors, including web applications, mobile apps, software projects, and electronic devices. They are particularly valuable in simplifying and improving the purchasing process for software products. In contrast, graphic designers often focus on creating compelling visual elements for print and digital media, such as advertisements, magazines, and websites. Both roles require a strong understanding of design principles, but UX designers place a greater emphasis on user interaction and usability.

Transitioning from graphic design to UX design can pose challenges, but it’s also rewarding. It requires an understanding of user experience design and the ability to think from the user’s perspective. However, the foundational skills of creating visual elements and understanding design theory can provide a solid base for this transition. If you’re a graphic designer who enjoys delving into the psychology of user behavior and creating seamless user experiences, a career as a UX designer could be an exciting path to explore.

Visual Designer vs Graphic Designer

Graphic Designers might work on a project from a brand logo to a complete advertising campaign, requiring a broad skill set and adaptability. In contrast, Visual Designers specialize more narrowly in the look and feel of digital projects. They focus on creating visually appealing and user-friendly interfaces for websites, apps, and other digital media.

Visual designers merge the foundational skills of graphic design with user experience principles to optimize digital interactions. Their work often involves creating wireframes, choosing color schemes that enhance readability, and ensuring that all visual elements are engaging and accessible.

UI Designer

In shaping the user journeys for apps, video games, websites, and software, UI designers play a crucial part. They are responsible for designing the screens that users navigate, creating visual elements like images, buttons, menus, and forms. This role requires a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of how visual elements impact user interaction and engagement.

The demand for UI designers is particularly high in the tech industry, where they are crucial for developing intuitive and visually appealing interfaces. However, their skills are also increasingly sought after in non-tech industries such as:

  • banking
  • retail
  • healthcare
  • manufacturing

Retail giants like Lowe’s, Tesco, Ikea, and Walmart are hiring in-house UI designers to optimize their mobile shopping apps and websites. This expanding demand highlights the versatility of UI design skills and the broad range of opportunities available.

To transition from a graphic designer to a UI designer, it’s necessary to:

  1. Expand upon your existing visual design skills and learn how to apply them in a digital setting.
  2. Understand user experience design and familiarize yourself with design software used in UI design, such as Sketch or Figma.
  3. If you’re a graphic designer with a passion for creating interactive digital experiences, a career in UI design might be a perfect fit.

Digital Designer vs Graphic Designer

Focusing on the development of customized digital solutions for a variety of platforms, digital designers work on websites, product graphics, email templates, and social media assets. They also work on brand campaigns to ensure a comprehensive digital presence. They work on a variety of tasks, including client management, presentations, concept creation, and designing deliverables. Their role requires a strong understanding of design theory, including typography, color composition, and design thinking.

The qualifications for a digital designer often include a bachelor’s degree in design, art, marketing, or a related field, such as a graphic design degree. However, a substantial portfolio showcasing your skills can also open doors in this field. There is a high demand for digital designers in various industries, including marketing, e-commerce, fintech, and tech hardware. They play a crucial role in creating visually appealing and user-friendly digital experiences for customers. These industries rely heavily on innovative digital content to engage their audiences and drive business growth.

Comparing digital designers and graphic designers reveals many similarities, as both roles require creativity and a keen eye for visual elements. However, digital designers often specialize in creating content specifically for digital platforms, whereas graphic designers might work across both print and digital media. If you’re a graphic designer looking to focus more on digital content and explore new creative challenges, a career as a digital designer could be an exciting avenue to pursue.

Frontend Web Developer

As architects of the digital world, frontend web developers:

  • Create layouts, interactive features, and responsive web design for websites using HTML, JavaScript, and CSS
  • Ensure that website visitors can easily interact with the page by combining design, technology, and programming
  • Play a crucial role in optimizing user experience and developing user interfaces that are both functional and visually appealing.

The technical skills required for a frontend web developer include proficiency in HTML for structure, CSS for styling, and JavaScript for advanced interactivity. They also use code editors like Visual Studio or Eclipse and CSS preprocessors like SASS to add functionality and scalability to their code. Frontend developers ensure that designs are implemented correctly on mobile devices and across different browsers, making responsive design a key aspect of their work.

Graphic designers aiming to transition into frontend web development need to:

  • Expand upon their design skills
  • Learn the technical aspects of web development
  • Understand user experience design
  • Familiarize themselves with coding

Doing so can open up new opportunities in this indispensable role.

If you enjoy combining creativity with technology and creating seamless digital experiences, a career as a frontend web developer could be a fulfilling path.

Motion Graphics Designer

Using animation, audio, and visual effects, motion graphics designers breathe life into static designs. They create engaging moving content for various media, including television, the internet, and film. This role involves working with design programs, selecting audio and visuals, and collaborating with creative teams to produce two-dimensional and three-dimensional animations.

The tools used by motion graphics designers often include computer software programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, as well as more advanced 3D modeling tools like Cinema4D. They create content for social media platforms, advertisements, apps, and games. Motion graphics designers are in high demand in industries such as advertising, public relations, and entertainment.

Transitioning from graphic design to motion graphics design requires building on your existing skills in visual design and learning to work with animation and visual effects. A background in graphic design can provide a solid foundation for this creative and technical role. If you’re a graphic designer who enjoys bringing visuals to life and creating dynamic content, a career in motion graphics design might be the perfect next step.

Illustrator vs Graphic Designer

Creating images to express ideas or tell stories, illustrators often focus on specialized areas such as children’s book illustration or editorial illustration. They work on projects for books, magazines, greeting cards, and advertisements, using their creativity and artistic skills to produce engaging visuals. Key skills for illustrators include creativity, communication, attention to detail, time management, and research.

A strong portfolio is essential for illustrators, showcasing their ability to create unique and compelling images. While specific qualifications are not always required, attending art school can help build the necessary skills and provide valuable experience.

In contrast, graphic designers create visual concepts for various media, focusing on layout, typography, and overall visual communication. For those looking to transition from graphic design to illustration, the journey involves honing your drawing and painting skills and developing a distinct artistic style. If you’re a graphic designer who loves creating detailed and imaginative images, a career as an illustrator could be an exciting and creative path to explore.

Art Director

Leading teams to develop cohesive and impactful artwork and layouts, art directors are the visionaries responsible for the visual style of media. Working closely with a creative director, they oversee the visual styles and imagery for:

  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Product packaging
  • Movie and television productions

This role requires strong leadership and communication skills, as art directors work closely with a team on multiple projects, managing budgets and setting appointments.

Advertising agencies, public relations firms, publishing houses, and the entertainment industry all have high demand for art directors. They play a crucial role in these fields. They often start their careers as graphic designers, gaining experience and building their portfolios before moving into leadership roles. The median annual wage for art directors was $106,500 in May 2023, with employment projected to grow 6% from 2022 to 2032.

Transitioning from graphic design to art direction involves gaining experience in the field and developing strong communication and leadership skills. If you’re a graphic designer with a vision for creating cohesive visual styles and leading creative teams, a career as an art director could be a rewarding and fulfilling path.

Multimedia Animator

By blending creativity and technical skills, multimedia animators:

  • Develop animations for advertisements, video games, and films
  • Work with a team of artists to brainstorm and develop projects
  • Create sketches and models using computer animation or modeling software
  • Use storyboards to demonstrate animation sequences and illustrate key scenes.

The tools used by multimedia animators include computers, film, and digital cameras. They edit animations based on feedback from other animators, designers, and directors. A Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts or a related field is typically required, along with proficiency in using animation software.

For graphic designers looking to transition into multimedia animation, the journey involves building on your existing skills and learning to work with animation software and visual effects. If you enjoy combining creativity with technology to create engaging visual content, a career as a multimedia animator could be a perfect fit.

Brand Identity Designer

Brand identity designers are tasked with:

  • Developing visual concepts that resonate with a brand’s identity and meet client needs
  • Working closely with clients and marketing teams to ensure that the brand’s image is accurately reflected in all visual materials
  • Presenting their concepts to clients and stakeholders and making revisions based on feedback

Communication and presentation skills are crucial for this role.

This role is in high demand, particularly in industries where consistent brand identities are essential for consumer-facing projects. Brand identity designers often start their careers as graphic designers, leveraging their skills in visual design and communication to create cohesive brand images.

Transitioning from graphic design to brand identity design involves building on your existing skills and developing a deep understanding of branding and marketing. If you’re a graphic designer who enjoys creating consistent and impactful brand visuals, a career as a brand identity designer could be an exciting and rewarding path.

Freelance Graphic Designer

As a former graphic designer, freelance graphic design provides the opportunity to:

  • Select clients and projects, enabling work on a diverse range of tasks across multiple industries
  • Work on logos, webpages, infographics, and other visual elements for clients in publishing, non-profits, and more
  • Handle multiple projects at once, working with different clients
  • Manage various brand identities

This role offers a lot of flexibility and the chance to work on a variety of creative projects.

The freedom of freelancing allows many graphic designers to focus on projects that interest them and build a diverse portfolio. Advertising and branding are major employers of freelance graphic designers, providing opportunities to create visual concepts and production designs for marketing materials, internal graphics, brand assets, packaging, and website graphics.

For those looking to transition to freelancing, the journey involves building a strong portfolio, developing communication and project management skills, and learning to navigate the business aspects of freelancing. If you’re a graphic designer seeking flexibility and variety in your work, a career as a freelance graphic designer could be a fulfilling and versatile path.