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What can I do with my degree?: Graphic design

From working for a design consultancy to setting up your own studio, a degree in graphic design opens the door to a range of creative careers

Job options

Jobs directly related to your degree include:

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here. To find out what jobs would suit you, log in to My Prospects.

Work experience

Only a few graduates obtain jobs as a result of their final degree shows. Internships are a more common way of finding work and building up experience, making contacts and increasing your portfolio. The design world is small and design agencies will recommend interns who have impressed them, or contact them if there are suitable opportunities in the future.

Courses often provide the opportunity to work on projects with leading businesses and organisations. There may also be opportunities to take an optional work placement in industry or to work abroad as part of the Erasmus+ programme.

Participating in relevant competitions and exhibitions can help you to promote yourself and build up your contacts. You could try and get some work experience, for example working for a film production company, television channel or even a magazine, or do some voluntary work on local projects.

Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.

Typical employers

In the private sector, you can work for a variety of businesses such as design consultancies and studios or branding specialists. You may be part of a team specialising in advertising design, including identity and event branding or corporate communication.

Advertising and PR agencies are another possibility, where you'd be involved in the process of creating positive images of organisations, individuals and products, and delivering imaginative solutions that generate sales or an increase in business interest.

Publishers also employ graduates with a graphic design degree. Concerned with the design, production and marketing of books, magazines, newspapers and journals, many publishers are moving into interactive and online products.

In the public sector, employers include museums, local authorities, schools, colleges and hospitals.

Some graduates set up their own studios and work as exhibiting artists or work as part of a studio collective.

Find information on employers in creative arts and design, marketing, advertising and PR, media and internet and other job sectors.

Skills for your CV

During your course you'll develop a good mix of subject-specific and technical skills, as well as transferable skills:

  • design skills and methods - drawing and sketching, printmaking, photography, typography, moving image and digital media;
  • creativity - learning to be open to new inspirations and techniques;
  • teamworking - collaborating on a range of creative projects with other graphic design students and those from other creative courses, e.g. film makers, fine artists, dancers, philosophers and writers;
  • time management;
  • analytical skills;
  • technical skills - you learn a variety of computer packages and skills such as illustration, printing and web design;
  • research skills;
  • capacity to work independently - in order to produce your own work and build your portfolio;
  • entrepreneurial skills - your portfolio has to be creative, imaginative and commercial.

Further study

A Masters degree can help you develop in-depth knowledge of a specialist topic, e.g. typography or illustration, or move into a related area such as multimedia, landscape architecture or interior design. Some Masters allow you to collaborate, either formally or informally, with other creatives such as fine artists or film makers. Additionally, a Masters gives you time to enhance portfolios and build a bigger network of contacts in the industry.

Short, further education courses to learn or polish skills in different computer packages are also an option.

For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see Masters degrees and search postgraduate courses.

What do graphic design graduates do?

Just over 85% of graphic design graduates are working in the UK six months after graduation. Half of these graduates are working as graphic designers. A further 3% are undertaking further study or combining work and study.

Graduate destinations for graphic design
Destinations Percentage
Employed 85.4%
Further study 1.8%
Working and studying 1.3%
Unemployed 8.1%
Other 3.5%
Types of work entered in the UK
Arts, design and media 60.5%
Retail, catering and bar work 15.9%
Marketing, PR and sales 5.4%
Secretarial and numerical clerks 3.3%
Other 14.9%

Find out what other art and design graduates are doing six months after finishing their degrees in What Do Graduates Do?  

Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Written by AGCAS editors
June 2014

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