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Graphic designer: Career development

Progression from junior graphic designer is possible within two to three years, with the first few jobs acting as stepping stones. At this stage, developing a reputation, networking and making contacts are important.

Some junior designers report that their first year is tedious at times, as the work is at a more basic level than their degree work and does not fully utilise all their skills. Others - mostly those working in small, fast-growing companies - report that they have been involved in interesting and challenging projects from day one.

Successful designers may be in a position to apply for a senior designer post after three to five years. In large design partnerships, it may be possible to achieve promotion from designer to management positions, such as studio manager or creative director.

In general, career development depends on frequent job movement to widen your experience and develop your portfolio. Successful designers have to think strategically about career moves and consider the development opportunities within each role.

In smaller companies, it is rare to have any kind of career structure and ambitious designers may decide that the only way to advance is to strike out alone or form a partnership.

Many designers become self-employed within five to ten years of their first job, with the aim of opening their own studio.

Members and Fellows of the Chartered Society of Designers (CSD)  can use the affix MCSD and FCSD, which is proof that a designer operates to the highest professional standards. The CSD is currently working towards a new Register of Chartered Designers, which will be a professional accolade of the highest order for designers.

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Written by AGCAS editors
February 2014

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