How Competitive Is The Graphic Design Industry?

Twenty years ago, school career advice didn’t even list it as a possible occupation. Graphic design has grown up a lot since then and has become a large part of the creative industries which, in turn, are now the second largest industry in the UK after finance. Consequently, it’s much easier to find information on the subject. Google can give you 53 million entries on “graphic design” in a fraction of a second.

There are plenty of perceptions that people have when they hear the words β€˜graphic design’ or β€˜graphic designer.’ Most are perceptions that don’t depict the profession very well. According to Global graphics, anyone who’s ever wanted to become a graphic designer knows that the way you look at it, in the beginning, is not the same as the way you view it once you have worked within the graphic design industry for a while. It’s just how it is, and I think that is unfortunately how it will always be.

Many people believe that being a graphic designer is a free and quite laid back profession, which will enable you basically an unlimited amount of spare time. The truth is a whole different story. The stress and the long hours can easily have you looking for another job in less than a year of getting started. Clients are usually not very coherent, and more than often they change their minds over and over before a project is done and paid for. And, that is if you even get paid enough for the job you just did.

There are currently 2.1 million graphic designers in the United States alone. 81% of them have a bachelor’s degree, which of course makes finding a position a competitive endeavor, if you know what I mean. 54% of all graphic designers are women, and the average salary is around $50,000. There are currently around 12,380 new jobs within the graphic design industry, which is something that further makes job hunting quite a competitive task.

Have a closer look at this infographic to see what you can expect when treading into the graphic design industry. If you have the dedication and creativity, being a graphic designer can be quite a rewarding profession. However, don’t expect it to be the freedom most people think it is. You will be slapped with long hours and ungrateful clients more times than n

What is graphic design?

Graphic design is about solving problems using design to communicate the solution. The solution can be subjective and there is always more than one option, but selecting the right one can make a real and positive difference. If a picture can say a thousand words, imagine how many words a well-designed poster could communicate. It could convey a message that will stay in the mind for years.

What are the first steps into graphic design?

Schools, rightly, focus on information not creativity. Once you get to art college there is more time and better facilities to explore your creativity. If possible you should do a one-year art foundation course before college, as it is a wonderful step to opening your eyes to creativity generally and other forms of art and design. This valuable time should also help you decide which subject you are most passionate about; passion is key, as most creative jobs require a great deal of personal involvement, time and dedication. In fact, for many, design is less a job and more a vocation.

Graphic design at college is a catch-all term, but the course usually helps you to develop your strengths before specialising in graphic design, advertising, illustration, editorial, web, information design or photography.

How do you get a job?

The UK has some of the best agencies in the world which, unsurprisingly, makes them extremely hard to get into, but there are some things you can do to give yourself a better chance of getting noticed.

One of the most important things – that is often forgotten – is to work hard and produce great work at college. Quality is still the best way to get noticed for all the right reasons.

Find a great design book and study it intensely. Look at what designers do and how they approach a great piece of design. Industry magazines such as Creative Review, Design Week and Eye are great for current news and work that is being noticed in the industry. Every agency is different, so identify the ones that are producing work that you respect and you would like to work for and learn things from, and start applying.

Try to get placements at respected agencies. Take the opportunity to get yourself noticed (do great work, be keen and definitely make tea). It’s amazing how many placements become full-time.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic design jobs are expected to increase by 13 percent between 2010 and 2020, but they will remain competitive because of the popularity of the position. This indicates there will be plenty of clients in the market for your services, but you will have to work hard to distinguish your company from the competition.

Lack of Regulation

There are no government regulations regarding the graphic design field, so it can be difficult for clients to recognize the difference between a skilled graphic design professional and a person who is not skilled. As a talented graphic design professional, you may have a difficult time getting clients to pay fair fees for your services, as less talented individuals likely charge less for the same jobs. You must work to distinguish customers who want high-quality work from those who seek a cheap product.

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