Doing in-depth research on the career you are interested is vital to success and this research includes knowing how much room for growth a certain career has. Most careers have different levels of employment and room for growth, but the design career ladder is extremely complex with many levels, paths and salary types.
I recently finished reading a great book called “Becoming a graphic designer – A Guide to careers in design” by Steven Heller and Teresa Fernandes. One of the early topics of the book is going over common terminology for a career in design.
The book explains there are basically two paths you you can take, the in-house path or the freelance path, and most designers will do both in their lifetime. Below are some important terms mentioned in the book that will help you when you are searching for a job as a graphic designer.
Graphic Design Career Terminology
In-House Design Department Terms
Art Department, Art and Design Department, Art Services Department, Design Department, Design Services Department, Creative Services Department, Creative Group
Design Management Job Titles
Creative Director, Design Director, Corporate Art Director, Creative Services Manager, Design Manager
Creative/Design Level Job Titles
Senior Designer, Designer, Senior Art Director, Art Director, Graphics Editor
Support Level Job Titles
Junior Designer, Assistant Designer, Deputy Art Director, Associate, Art Director, Assistant Art Director, Production Artist, Art Associate
Entry Level Design Job Titles
Assistant Designer, Junior Designer, Intern
They Want Super Designers!
I would also recommend that designers keep and eye on design job boards such as (Coroflot, Krop, and even Cragislist) so you can get an idea of the requirements employers are looking for nowadays. Management positions will obviously require more years of experience then entry level positions, but you would be surprised at the amount of qualifications some employers expecting from entry level designers.
This is mainly a lot of businesses do not have the money for an entire design staff so they are looking for “do it all super designers” designers who are not only graphic designers, but experienced web designers and animators as well.
Many areas of design are crossing paths now a days due to advances in technology and easier access to software, which is a second reason why the amount of technical skill required for jobs is growing rapidly! Knowing Illustrator, Photoshop and Indesign still might be enough for most jobs, but having other skills such as knowing how to code valid XHTML and CSS are becoming much more sought after and can help you land a job much easier.
Build a Foundation First
While I do think its good to have experience in a multitude of areas, I believe it is important to have a strong foundation in one area first and then branch off into other areas. For example my main focus is graphic design and I spend most of my time bettering myself as a graphic designer, but I have begun to branch off into other areas as well such as blogging, web design, search engine optimization and marketing so I can pursue my long term goals, including working full time from home.
So to sum all this up, do your research on the career you are interested, keep an eye on the ever-changing requirements for jobs, build a strong foundation for yourself and then look into branching off into other areas!