In addition to embracing a career that lets you pursue your love for all things art, graphic designer job benefits run the gamut from working at home to ample specialty areas.
If you’ve ever met anyone who works in the field, you’ve probably heard them sing the praises of their career. Graphic design can be quite rewarding. You get to take something from nothing and come up with a concept that your employer or the client adores.
Perhaps you’re a naturally creative person. You want to turn your skills into something that pays money. People often advise seeking a career doing what you love, and graphic design can become just that for those who pursue it.
First, a Few Cons
Here at Designerly, we clearly believe the graphic designer job benefits far outweigh any negatives. However, in the spirit of presenting a fair representation of the work, we want to list a few things you should be aware of before you embark on this career.
- Limited growth opportunities
- Lower pay–starting positions are less than the average
- Constant updating of skills and learning new programs
- Lack of exposure to other people as you’ll sit at a desk and work alone. Note: this is attractive to some personalities, so may seem more like a benefit.
- Difficult clients
- Tight deadlines and stress
While there are some drawbacks to nearly any career, we think the pros far outweigh the cons.
What Are the Job Benefits of a Graphic Designer?
Benefits vary, depending on whether you work for a large corporation, small business or yourself. Out of the more than 254,000 graphic designers in the United States, about 19% freelance. However, even if you run your own design studio, you’ll find there are numerous benefits you might not have thought of.
Some of the obvious graphic designer job benefits include:
- Health benefits
- Retirement plan
- Paid time off (PTO)
- Good work/life balance
- Steady income
Many people start at a company, build their skills and specialty areas and then strike out on their own. Before you jump into freelancing full-time, you might want to work with a few clients as a side hustle and see if you enjoy juggling invoicing, collecting payments, and being everything from sales to follow-up.
The personality of the artist often enjoys the freedom of working for themself but not the organizational abilities needed to run their own business. You can learn any skill, though, including organization with a bit of determination. You may find the graphic designer job benefits of owning your own small agency is exactly what you need in your life.
1. Sustainable Pay
The average graphic designer makes $53,380 per year. While it isn’t the highest-paying career in the world, it’s a nice steady income with plenty of time outside the office to pursue other interests.
Unfortunately, one of the graphic designer job benefits isn’t promotion opportunities. You might earn more by becoming a creative director and taking on responsibility for a team. You won’t be able to continue your current creative work without adding anything and expect to earn more from most companies.
Another option to expand your income is to become a small business owner and open your own agency. Again, you will no longer do design work in a bubble. You’ll have to put on many hats as an entrepreneur.
There’s no universally right answer for your graphic designer career path. Knowing and embracing your strengths is important, though. Doing that will help you find the work environment and schedule you’ll like best.
2. Find a Job Anywhere
If you love adventure, you can find a graphic designer job nearly anywhere you might imagine. You can go freelance or remote and travel while you complete tasks for your employer or clients.
Consider the payscale in various areas before agreeing to move. Some locations pay more than others. If you land a remote job in Los Angeles but only have to travel there once a year for meetings, you can live somewhere that has a lower cost of living and make bank.
For example, in Columbus, Ohio, one of the job benefits of graphic designers is a higher annual salary of around $66,682 with a lower cost of living than many places. Choose where you send your resumes wisely.
As you research places to live, learn about the offerings that would make your free time enjoyable, too. Whether that means finding out about local restaurants or making a list of area museums, those things matter. You’ll also be able to have an excellent work-life balance.
3. Pleasant Work Environment
One of the best graphic designer job benefits is the ability to work in a quiet, air-conditioned office setting and not put in any hard physical labor. While some people enjoy being outside and working with their hands, others do not.
If you love art, you likely sway toward enjoying the inside and a homey atmosphere. Neither preference is right or wrong, but for those who like working in an office, the perk of being in a building at a desk is an important one.
Another advantage of a dedicated work environment is that you can personalize it. Put framed pictures of loved ones on your desk. Add a colorful rug to the floor. Choose a few potted plants for a windowsill or the corner of a room. You’ll appreciate those thoughtful details that make your space more enjoyable and inviting.
4. Sense of Accomplishment
As a graphic designer, you’ll create something from scratch for your clients. Your team will likely come up with the germ of an idea and turn to you to make something out of it. You may sketch out concepts, add a color palette, do some digital design. Over a matter of hours and days, you’ll see the idea come to life. You’ll be a vital part of the design team at any agency or company.
It’s then easy to take pride in your work in progress, as well as the finished assignments. Feeling accomplished in your career is important because it’ll encourage you to keep growing your skills and occasionally going outside your comfort zone.
5. Work Benefits
In a recent SHRM study, employers indicated they believed healthcare to be a top benefit. They ranked retirement plans at 82% and flexible work hours at 49%. As an employee, you may have different priorities, depending upon your current situation in life.
For example, a new mom is going to look at the flexible work schedule and ample PTO as the most important factors determining where she takes a position. On the other hand, someone who is single and just fell off their parents’ healthcare plan may want to make sure they have excellent medical benefits.
Should you choose to work for a company, you’ll have some type of benefits. Some standard ones you can expect include:
- Retirement benefits
- Sick leave
- Flexible schedule
- Remote options
Each company embraces different priorities, depending on the business’ culture. Pay attention to the extra perks to decide the best place to work.
6. Ongoing Training
In design, trends come and go. New methods and technology changes how you design. It’s vital to learn new things and take on new challenges if you want to grow as a designer. One of the best graphic designer job benefits is being able to write off conferences and workshops as a business expense.
If you work for yourself, you can reduce your tax burden. Always talk to your certified public accountant to ensure you’re taking only allowed deductions. Those working for a company may find their employer is more willing to pay for some things as long as it benefits the business.
Have regular discussions with your immediate supervisor about things you’d like to learn or current skills you want to improve. Then, explore the best ways to do that. Should you go to a week-long conference? Might your employer pay for a new certification or a class at the local community college? Hopefully, you can work together to find the best ways to balance continuing education and your workload.
7. Personal Leave
At some point in most people’s lives, they have a reason to take personal leave. Perhaps a parent is ill and needs help during rehabilitation. Maybe they’ve just added a new child to the home and want a few months to acclimate. If it’s always been your dream to travel to Antarctica, a leave of absence can be attractive. You may just need a break from work to focus on your mental health.
Whatever the reasons, companies often offer ample personal leave–some paid and some unpaid–for a variety of purposes. A few brands even give a few weeks off when you adopt a new puppy.
The younger generations especially value a strong work-life balance. Knowing they can take a leave and still return to their jobs provides a sense of security during hard times. Whether you work for a company or have freelance clients, taking time off is a widely accepted and encouraged option in today’s society.
8. Ability to Work for Yourself
Although you’ll lose some of the graphic designer job benefits such as a retirement plan, working for yourself offers more freedom and the possibility of higher pay. You can always start an individual retirement account (IRA) and put a percentage of your profit into it each month. There are individual and family healthcare plans you can also buy on the marketplace for a reasonable amount.
The Federal Reserve recently took a look at the reasons for the Great Resignation and the shortage of available workers. One thing they found was that many people cut back on work hours and sought part-time, temporary and irregular jobs via the gig economy. They found around 16% of adults performed gig activities the month prior. About 41% of people said they wanted to work less than they are now.
If you are tired of punching a 9-to-5 (or longer) clock, crunch the numbers and see if freelancing is right for you. If you’ve always had more-structured work arrangements, making this transition will be a bit of an adjustment. But you should find it much easier to manage if you ease into things gradually.
Another helpful tip is to get yourself into a productive routine. Working in your pajamas might seem appealing, but many people find they’re more in the mood to work when they take their workdays more seriously. It’s also wise to set work-hour expectations for your clients. Working for yourself doesn’t mean you’re available to answer their emails or calls at any time.
9. Not Boring
Many jobs are extremely repetitive in nature. With graphic design, you’ll always work on something fresh and new. You can apply new techniques and experiment. It’s an excellent creative outlet with the ability to work in nearly any industry you’d like.
If you feel a bit philanthropic, you can seek a job in the nonprofit sector. If you want a challenge, go to some tech firms. You won’t grow stagnant working in graphic design. You might make something for a local doctor’s office one week and create a project for a worldwide beverage brand the next. Mixing things up like that is also a practical way to keep your portfolio current and show future clients your capabilities.
10. Collaborating With Others
Graphic designers have to work with other people to collaborate on projects. Even as a freelancer, you’ll have to communicate with your clients and show them the process for feedback.
While you can work alone, you won’t ever really work in a box. You’ll get feedback and grow from the constructive criticism you receive. Some people also thrive on the creative process and brainstorming new ideas.
It’s also great that tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams are so widely used. Even if your collaborators are in another state, time zone or country, those specifics are no longer limitations to what’s possible. You might also use project management tools to accelerate workflows. They provide an accurate and easily accessible record of which people worked on certain responsibilities and when.
11. Opportunities for Challenges and Growth
Trends frequently become apparent in the graphic design industry. Professionals start experimenting with tools, or clients begin demanding specific color schemes, fonts or layouts more often. Keeping up with those happenings is an excellent way to stay on your toes and look for ways to grow.
Clients will also appreciate it if you take obstacles in stride, viewing them as chances to learn. You might even branch out by using your knowledge in ways you hadn’t previously considered. Maybe that means starting a design-centric podcast and using it as a platform to interview peers. It could also mean sharing your skills as a mentor.
12. Work as an In-Demand Professional
One of the best graphic designer benefits is the high likelihood of getting steady work. Even as preferences change and budgets tighten, clients will still need and appreciate your skills.
A 2023 Upwork study reinforced that fact. It ranked graphic design as the top in-demand creative skill for the year. Graphic design is often the key for helping companies build their brand images, sell products in new markets, and stay relevant with customers.
Even if the projects you do change over the years, the overall need for your skills shouldn’t fluctuate very much. That’s a welcome perk if you want to save for retirement, provide for a family or give yourself more financial stability as a single person.
Ample Graphic Designer Job Benefits
Working as a graphic designer is highly rewarding for those who love to be creative and try new things. You can easily overcome any limitations by seeking side gigs, becoming management material or learning sought-after skills.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.