Show Me the Money - What You Need to Know to Find Your Dream Job as a Graphic Designer or Web Designer
By Lois Knight
Graduation day has come and gone, leaving a sense of stark reality in the form of a stack of monthly bills, student loans and the need for some form of monetary stability. But where do you start looking? Are you looking for something with benefits and job perks, or are you in need of a little more flexibility? Do you already have a job and just need an upgrade or are you considering a cross country move to a warmer climate? All of these things have to be considered carefully to survive in the world of graphic design. Some will be fairly simple decisions and some will not, depending on your own circumstances.
Most colleges offer job placement assistance, and a good place to start is the job placement counselors. These counselors can assist you in polishing a resume or helping you write one for the first time. They can offer job seeking tips, and point out potential businesses looking for qualified applicants to fill jobs of all sorts. Most colleges now require you have a completed internship before allowing you to graduate as well. This will enable you to offer hands on experience to compliment your credentials. And, because it is done close to the end of the program, many are paid internships leading to full time positions after graduation. However, there are no guarantees in life and no one is going to drop your dream job in your lap as a general rule. You have to earn it or at least find it.
But how do you figure out what your dream job is? If you have gotten a degree in graphics, there is a pretty good chance you’ve gotten the opportunity to try out a variety of possibilities but if you plan to do this for the next twenty years or more, you might consider looking a little deeper. This means taking a good hard look at your strengths and weaknesses. Are you an average designer with an eye for spotting flaws in layout or spelling? Do you enjoy working with preflight output or getting up close and personal with a printing press? Some of these jobs may not be in demand as much as they used to be, therefore, they command a premium wage, but you need to be aware they may be phased out somewhere down the road. Simply make sure you are multi faceted enough to adapt as your industry changes. The more you have to offer, the more choices you will have. And last but not least, consider the kind of money you need to make to survive. If you are used to living on a million dollar budget, you might not want to take a job that pays twenty thousand.
It all seems a little scary when you have to make career decisions that will impact your life and the lives of your family for years to come, but if you take it one step at a time and stay honest with your objectives, you may surprise yourself by landing the job of your dreams, just like I did. Let’s take a look at some of the things you need to consider.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to know what your talents are. Sit down and make a list of what you think you’re good at. It can be something as simple as spelling or as complex as preflighting. When you’re done, is it a long or short list? Now go ask your instructors, classmates, current employers and mentors what they think your strengths and weaknesses are. You may think you are the greatest photographer to hit the scene in twenty years, only to find out from your peers you actually shine at layout. And you may think you are a genius with advertising campaigns, but your peers say you are never quiet long enough to know what the client wants. By asking the hard questions you will be much more aware of what your clients perceive. You may not be able to see something because it is too close. It’s kind of like not seeing the forest for the trees.
Once you know what you’re really good at, you can start narrowing down the field of possibilities and focusing in on those talents you would like to emphasize. When I created my own list I indicated I enjoyed working on layouts and creating compelling ad campaigns, but I loved to write. So I chose to become a writer. If you find your niche, then you will find a job that will stick.
But how do you know if your niche will be profitable for you and where money is to be made. I decided to take a closer look at three distinct career choices and where in the United States they are most profitable. I chose New York, NY, Houston TX, Los Angeles CA and Des Moines IA. I have a working knowledge of Des Moines and Houston but wanted to make sure we covered a wide enough range to give a more accurate viewpoint. Here’s what I found out when I compared entry level jobs in all four cities against what the national average is at CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com
As you can see there is quite a bit of difference depending on where you choose to live and work. The more demand there is for a particular profession and the fewer people that are training for these jobs creates a higher salary. The opposite effect will take place in an area that has a large work base of similarly qualified people. The wages go down and the competition for what is available goes up. It is for this reason you need to do your homework. Make sure the area you are in or are considering being in will be profitable for you. If not, make sure you are adaptable to your surroundings.
Stay current with job trends as well as education requirements. Just a few years ago the software programs used by professional graphic designers were CorelDraw, Quark, and Dreamweaver. But as the industry has evolved these have been replaced by many with Adobe CS3 and similar programs designed to increase efficiency and speed. However, if you go to work for a smaller company you may still find these programs in daily use purely for economic reasons as well as it is what they know and trust. You have to ask the right questions going in and be adaptable to any situation once you are there.
No matter what choices you make along the way make sure they are what you love to do. Accepting anything else would be second best and will eventually fall short of your dreams. If you are truly passionate about what you do it is not longer a J-O-B, it is a career choice. Make sure your choice a worthy one.
[tags]find graphic design jobs, graphic design jobs, find web design jobs, finding design jobs, find design jobs, dream graphic design jobs, dream web design jobs, graphic designer salaries, web designer salaries, designer salaries, national averages for designers, designer wages, designer salaries by state[/tags]
By Lois Knight - You can also see Lois Knight’s Articles on Freelance Folder
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