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Graphic Designer

by Staff Reporter
If you have a creative flair, drawing skills and the ability to communicate well then a career as a Graphic Designer could be for you.

Career Overview

Graphic Design has changed a lot in recent times with the advancement of technology and the increase of brand identity importance.  This career centres around visual commication where words and images are used to communicate a message or idea to an audience.  In general, Graphic Designers will be involved in working on various products and activities (including websites, books, product packaging etc.) where you will receive a brief from a creative director, client or account manager to develop an appropriate visual.

Required School Subjects

You will NOT need to have taken specific subjects in high school however you will need to meet the minimum requirements for the university, university of technology or private college that you would like to study at.  This is likely to include a portfolio.

Recommended subjects:

  • Visual Arts
  • Engineering Graphics and Design (EGD)
  • Design

Institution and APS

The following institutions are highly recommended for studies in Graphic Design:

  • University of Johannesburg (UJ) – APS of 23 (with Mathematics) or 24 (with Mathematical Literacy) 
  • North West University (NWU) – APS of 24
  • University of Pretoria (UP) – APS of 30
  • University of Stellenbosch – no APS requirement so you need to get the best marks you can
  • Cape Penninsula University of Technology (CPUT) – no specific APS required
  • Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) – APS of 27
  • Durban University of Technology (DUT) – no specific APS required

Required Qualification/s

In order to qualify as a Graphic Designer, you will need to have a formal qualification in Graphic Design.  You can study towards this at a University, University of Technology or Private College depending on your matric results and whether you would like to have more practical training.  In general, a degree in Graphic Design will be in the Humanities faculty and you will study a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design, Information Design or Visual Arts. 

In general, a University of Technology or Priavte College will offer a practical education.  These institutions will allow you to study towards a National Diploma in Graphic Design or a Bachelor of Technology (BTech) in Graphic Design.  With any formal qualification, you will be introduced to a variety of packages that you will need to be proficient in as a Graphic Designer.  These packages include InDesign, Illustrator and Acrobat.

Required Skills

You will need to have the following skill set in order to succeed as a Graphic Designer:

  • creativity
  • be a team player (especially when working within project teams)
  • time management
  • research skills
  • ability to work indepently
  • analytical skills

Where you can work

Most industries require Graphic Designers so you could work a variety of spaces.  Some areas you could work in inclide:

  • corporate design
  • marketing and advertising design
  • publication design
  • environmental design
  • packaging design
  • motion design

It’s a fact that companies need brand identity, marketing and other forms of visual communication.  You could work for retail companies, publishers, magazines or computer game companies to name a few.  There is also the prospect of working as a freelancer. 

Working Hours

Your working hours will vary depedning on the environment that you are working in.  On average, you should work a 37-40 hour week.  However, you might need to work longer when deadlines are approaching.  Whether you are working as a freelancer or for a company, Graphic Designers generally have to work hard and have to put in extra hours when deadlines are imminent. 

Expected Salary

In general, a Graphic Designer‘s salary varies depending on the area you work in.  However, the average annual salary for a Graphic Designer in South Africa is R134 844 with the mean entry level annual salary being R94 000.

What to expect

Here are a few things you can expect from a career as a Graphic Designer:

  • long periods spent in front of the computer 
  • working in a team on design projects
  • if you choose the freelance route, you could be working in shared studio spaces/offices
  • this is a reputation-based career where the quality of your work could define your level of demand (and your job satification)

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