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Jan 23, 12 at 2:27amRondo

My high school graduation is slowly creeping up on me and I must soon make some kind of decision on my career path and what major I would want to focus in and choose colleges.

So anyone here would like to share their knowledge and experience on Web/Graphic Design as a career path? Is it really a good career? Money-wise? Some people say it's low-stressed, is it really? Is it very competitive?

Archangel, Slumpy monkey, Ecto, ... and other people that's looking into making this into their career.

Thread Recap (last 10 posts from newest to oldest)

Aug 11, 12 at 1:08pm

My sister graduated from college as a graphic designer. In her third year, she realized that this wasn't what she wanted and that it actually RUINED her love for design :\ By that time though, she didn't switch and kept her major. After graduation, she struggled so hard to find a job. And this is in NYC, mind you. Finally after a year, she got with a nice design company and now she's happy.

I was going to go graphic design major since she taught me everything when I was like... 13. But after her experience, I backed out.

But if I look at it now, I think web design would be a bit more better. You don't have to do book binding, poster-making, or typography classes. It's more broad and I think more favorable out of the two.

If I could go back now, I would've considered web design.

Apr 27, 12 at 11:12am

Arch hit the nail on the head. In creative industries it depends very much where you end up working, as different companies vary massively. Although being in print media my experience is somewhat different, I think it still represents the overall industry to a certain extent.

I work for a small independent publishing company and was hired as a sub-editor in the production department (which prior to my appointment consisted of only 2 people). As a sub in a national paper or magazine my entire day would be consumed with editing copy, but because of the size of my company and my interest in the art side of production my role has been able to overlap massively to the extent that I have recently been given the chance to totally redesign one of our supplements, which is something I would never have expected, and it certainly isn't a job a typical sub would be given.

It ultimately depends on what side of the industry you are more interested in, and that should definitely the guiding focus in deciding which courses you want to study, but there is plenty of opportunity for further professional development at a later stage so don't feel that your current choices will tie you to one job forever, and as I mentioned, a lot of jobs overlap, giving a lot of opportunity to gain valuable on-the-job experience that can help shape your career development.

Whichever way you decide to go I hope it for a well for you.

Apr 26, 12 at 4:58pm

It all depends on where you work. Where I live the design studios have them separated into front-end and back-end, but there are also smaller companies that have a couple people doing the entire site. It's always a bonus to have the skill set for both aspects because you will have a much easier time finding work that way.

Apr 26, 12 at 1:26pm

Archangel Thanks man. I will put your tips into well consideration. The way you explained it sounds as if there are usually separate programmers and designers. What if you have the skill set to completely make a web site in the front end and the back end by yourself. What would a position like that be? Is there one?

Aranu Wo Daddy Wo Thanks for sharing guys. I really appreciate it, I think I have a better view on the career now.

Apr 24, 12 at 1:25pm
Wo Daddy Wo

I started out as graphic designer years ago but have since moved onto a sales position. For the most part, graphic design jobs are low to medium pay. Entry level design jobs are very low paying. You need to be thick skinned and not become emotionally attached to your work. Need to be able to work quickly on multiple jobs at the same time.

You will not be sitting in front of a computer listening to your iPod designing corporate logos. You will have someone you don't like tell you your work is not right and you need to revise it again, and again, and again, etc....

Biggest concern of most graphic designers is their inability to sketch or draw. You're worth twice as much if you can sketch ideas out and are not chained to your computer!

Apr 23, 12 at 4:00am


Actually, I'll be honest, as a kid coming out of high school, I didn't know what I was getting into. I'm from a small town and honestly there were so many mind blowing doors open when I came to a city and was hit with real art, and how many gifted art oriented people there are in the world. I had a very narrow view of art and what life would be. All I knew was really that Software engineering got good money, and some form of design elements could be involved. I never really knew what I was getting into, namely because my guidance counselor, who I asked for help was a small town guy who had no idea really what it was either. I basically thought of computers and thought I'd run with it. What a mistake that was, waste of time and effort of something I hated. I just didn't like the boring coding work. I didn't feel creative and it just wasn't what I envisioned so I opted to jump out of it. I was also naive and thought my self learning through the many years of playing around with "design" was all I needed and the coding/programming was the missing piece.

It's too late for me to redo more school now, but I think after I finish my B.comm degree, and I can get the time, I'd do something creative, like be a professional photographer, but at the same time try to go to a design school and learn some things that can cement what I've learned on my own into being something professional.

Mar 18, 12 at 6:05am

There are quite a few different sub-categories in this field and I can see how it can be a little confusing. It all depends on which road you want to take. Do you want to do more design or are you more interested in doing back-end work and coding? Web Design focuses mainly on the front end, either designing the website yourself, or getting a Photoshop mockup from someone else and turning that into a fully functioning website with HTML and CSS. A Web Developer is more back-end, using languages like PHP, Javascript, etc. to get the underlying functionality to work properly, like: sign-up forms, shopping carts, content management systems. So again, it comes down to what you think you'd like to do. If you want to design then naturally you should pursue Graphic Design or Web Design, and if you like the coding aspect then you should go for Web Developer or Programmer.

Things can obviously change though. I mean, I took a Web Design certificate course 5 years ago and ended up absolutely hating the coding part of it - all I wanted to do once I graduated was the design. Luckily I found a contract-work job that let me focus on the design. But now I'm taking a 2 year degree course in Digital Media Design and am really focusing and loving the coding. So really, I did a complete turn around in 5 years in what I wanted to do. Now I'm looking more into the Programming side of things, both because I love to code, and also because the starting wage for Programmers in my province are ridiculously high (bordering on 60k for basically right out of school work).

As for these courses themselves, all the ones I'm taking are full year or two year courses. Of course there are some that are part-time that you can take, but from what I've seen in my city they're mostly, like... Introduction to Photoshop, Introduction to Dreamweaver, and just basic nonsense like that that won't help you get a job.

One final thing I need to say is... Don't let your parents force you into something you will regret. It happened to me, and while it turned out not so bad in the end, it really set me back about 6 years for what I really wanted to do. It is your life, you choose what you want to do, don't let someone else tell you you need to do something you don't want. Trust me, as much as it might suck in the beginning to go against their wishes, it will work out much better for everyone in the end because you will actually be doing something you like, and not forced into something that you will end up harboring resentment towards.

Mar 17, 12 at 2:26pm

It's been a long time, and I've really put off thinking about this (I just seem to not want to grow up apparently...><), but I just wanted to give you guys my thanks for taking the time to respond, esp Ecto with the unexpected video response.

I do have a couple questions in mind right now.

My parents are set on me getting at least a bachelor in college, so I'm thinking of taking an outside course for Design certificates while attending college for another degree. Seeing how I'm so undecided right now I thought I'd try to keep my options open. My question is, are these courses like full courses that is really time consuming?

I'm still getting a little confused at why there's both certifications and degrees. How do they actually weigh against each other?

Aranu Actually, one of my other options was to pursue Software Engineering as well, seeing how many career sites rank that as one of the top jobs. I'm curious as to why you thought software engineering would have lead you to design, because to me I never really thought programming is like graphic design (besides the PHP, HTML, etc stuff). And if you don't mind answering, what was it specifically that you hated about that field that made you get out of it?

I've been looking into careers and I'm a little confused at the different kinds there are. Web Designer, Graphic Designer, Web Developer, and I see that you guys mention programming with design, is that under Computer Programmer? Or is that just a dumb question? And what's the difference between Web Designers and Web Developers?

Feb 14, 12 at 7:46pm

Definitely true with what t0a5t3r says. The most frustrating thing is that point. The worst ones are the ones that limit you to be creative. I've done so many projects its basically turning a sketch they drew into a logo on the computer.

Feb 3, 12 at 6:30pm

Oh yeah; clients want they they think is good, not what you tell them is good. And generally, the more money the client is spending on you, the less innovative they will let you be. Generally, clients think they know more about design than you do. You're just the 'mac monkey' that knows how to use the software and build their vision - so you better be a patient person!

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