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Graphic Designer: Choosing an Alternative Career Path

— February 28, 2020

There are so many alternative paths graphic designers can take, and it’s all about finding something you enjoy doing.

Being a graphic designer isn’t easy – clients are usually very demanding, bosses expect you to get everything done perfectly, and the hours can be long and stressful. If these are the problems you face on a daily basis, chances are you thought about quitting your job and doing something else. But before you do it, it might be a good idea to think about some alternative paths in graphic design. Sometimes, a change of scenery like this is all you need to get your career back on track. With that said, let’s take a look at some of the other options you can choose from.

Become a freelancer

Some graphic designers feel like they don’t have enough control over their work. If this is the case with you, going freelance could be the perfect solution. As a freelancer, you get to make all the big calls and choose what kind of projects you’ll work on. Plus, freelancers can create their work schedules, which can be a huge plus. Just bear in mind that taking this path means you’ll also have more responsibilities than you have at your current job. As a current bachelor of arts degree in visual design explains, contemporary visual designers are creative professionals who are also capable of coordinating the skills of a team specializing in a variety of disciplines. 

Once you start freelancing, you’ll have to deal with emailing, accounting, and most importantly, finding clients to work with. Things may seem a bit difficult in the beginning, but once you find regular customers, working on your own will be amazing. Luckily, there are websites such as Upwork and Freelancer where you can look for your first job. 

Take on the role of a project manager

Project managers are unsung heroes of every creative studio design. If you’re experienced enough, landing a job as a project manager might be easier than you think. If you opt for this idea, you’ll be tasked with working behind the scenes and making sure entire projects go as planned. Also, your job will include pitching ideas to clients and working with them even after designs have been made. 

Project management is a crucial role in every studio but there’s also a lot of stress involved. Also, your work hours may even be less flexible than they were when you were operating as a graphic designer. On the bright side, the salary matches responsibilities project managers have, so expect to earn more than you did before.

Give print a go

When talking about graphic design, people usually think about working on digital campaigns. Although the job includes a lot of web-based projects, the print industry is doing great as well. There are plenty of companies that need you to provide them with print material. So, if you’ve been looking for a change of scenery, specializing in one particular subset of print might be exactly what you need.

The best part is that you don’t necessarily have to focus only on print design. There are experts who work on both digital and print designs, and doing the same might help you hit the refresh button on your career. For example, certain pros work on designing both digital and print catalogs which many companies need in order to get closer to their customers.

Start working with words

Being a copywriter isn’t the same as being a graphic designer but there are a lot of similarities you may like. You’ll still be tasked with offering service to clients and helping them create content that’ll help them build their brand. The creative part is a bit different as instead of all the software and an infinite array of colours, you only have letters of the alphabet and grammar rules to work with.

The good news is that depending on the job you land, you might also be able to use your graphic design skills to deliver the best service to your clients. Sometimes, including graphics in content is exactly what brands need in order to get noticed and this may really be your new career hit off. Working as both copywriter and graphic designer is also possible if you opt for freelancing.

UX Work: Woman's hands drawing a wireframe; image by Kelly Sikkema, via
UX Work: Woman’s hands drawing a wireframe; image by Kelly Sikkema, via

Work as a web developer

While operating as a graphic designer, you probably developed the eye for detail that it takes to design good websites. Picking up code is now easier than ever, and you might even be able to learn on the go. However, if you want to start growing your career as a web developer from day one, taking a course in web design is recommended. Most importantly, you’ll be able to use the skills you already have to deliver exactly what clients ask from you.

Hybrid designer/developers are quite in demand right now as more and more businesses put an emphasis on building attractive websites. With every business now being online, it’s safe to say there will never be enough web developers out there, making this a legit option for your career. You can also choose to either get a full-time job or try to operate as a freelancer.

The bottom line

There are so many alternative paths graphic designers can take, and it’s all about finding something you enjoy doing. Each of the five options covered in this post might be exactly what you were looking for as they require the same amount of creativity and can be extremely fun.

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