What Does a Creative Designer Do? (With Average Salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 10, 2022

Published May 2, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Creative designers are experts who create prominent logos, advertisement posters, and other marketing materials for their clients and have a diverse set of abilities, including time management, communication, artistic skills, and creativity. While some creative designers have natural creative abilities, others develop them through education, job training, and work experience. Learning about the key roles and responsibilities of a creative designer can help you determine if it's the right career choice for you.

In this article, we answer the question "What does a creative designer do?", describe the skills you may need for the role, list the steps you can take to start your career, and discuss tips to help showcase your skills.

What does a creative designer do?

Understanding the answer to, "What does a creative designer do?", can help you decide whether you want to pursue this career path. Creative designers create visual content for print and digital platforms, like advertisements, magazines, product packaging, digital media, film, newsletters, interior design, and online application design. Typically, a client provides a message or concept for the designer to express creatively. The creative designer then creates the visual element by combining images, text, and colour.

Their responsibilities typically vary according to their employer and their job role. Their typical duties involve meeting customers to determine their needs, completing projects using design tools, and modifying products in response to client feedback. Their common responsibilities include:

  • Deciding how to communicate messages and ideas visually

  • Establishing and implementing an artwork style guide

  • Meeting with clients and ascertaining their needs and specifications

  • Assisting in the selection of design elements for layouts, such as fonts, colours, and images

  • Establishing design guidelines

  • Supervising design changes during the development process

  • Designing logos

  • Using software to create digital drawings

  • Generating images from data and concepts

Workplace environment for creative designers

Creative designers may work for a company's marketing department or individual clients on a project-by-project basis to fulfil their design needs. Creative directors who are not self-employed typically work full time in an office setting, or may even work from home. As a creative designer, you can expect frequent and close collaboration with other artists, photographers, marketing professionals, editors, and advertising departments in fields like marketing, public relations, and advertising. Their work is fast-paced and often involves milestones and deadlines, which may require some weekend or after-hours work. Creative designers typically spend most of their time working on computers.

Average salary of a creative designer

Creativity designers' salaries vary significantly according to experience, education, industry expertise, and specialization. It typically depends on the size, type, and location of the organization. Entry-level, freelance, and contract creative designers usually get hourly compensation. The national average salary of a creative designer is $50,162 per year. Full-time employees in a company's art or design departments may receive comprehensive compensation packages that include various perks and benefits other than the basic salary.

Skills required to become a creative designer

A creative designer is responsible for developing customer-centric marketing and advertising materials, so it's crucial that they possess a range of technical and soft skills, along with artistic abilities. It's critical for them to be skilled communicators who can think creatively, be meticulous, and have the ability to work under pressure. They possess strong problem-solving, decision-making, and organizational skills to perform their job effectively. The following are some skills you can develop to become a successful creative designer:

  • Creativity: As a creative designer, you may want to possess the ability to think of novel and exhilarating ways to communicate ideas visually. It takes creative thinking to translate a customer's message into meaningful visual art.

  • Artistic talent: In addition to being creative and innovative with design concepts, creative designers also need artistic skills to conceptualize, illustrate, and produce visual graphics manually or by using software.

  • Branding: It's critical for creative designers to possess fundamental branding and typography skills to create unique designs for their clients. They may also want to be adept at researching and comprehending all facets of a client's brand, to be able to express their message effectively and help connect them with their target audience.

  • Computer skills: Designers often use graphic design software to create or modify images and layouts. They may also use image layout, editing, and publishing tools to design creatives.

  • Leadership: As a creative designer, you may be responsible for managing and guiding a team of artists and graphic designers and supervising a project at all stages. Good leadership skills can help inspire your colleagues and team members to be innovative and develop new concepts.

  • Communication: Creative designers often collaborate with various departments and team members and communicate with clients to understand their design goals. It's also essential that creative designers can convey their vision for a project, which is where good communication skills come to use.

  • Analytical thinking: It's critical for creative designers to choose the most appropriate graphic representation for a complex subject or data collection.

  • Time management: Creative designers frequently work on multiple projects concurrently. It's critical for them to be able to multitask and complete their designs project on time.

Related: 10 Outstanding Careers for Creative People

How to become a creative designer

To begin your career as a creative designer, you can take the following steps:

1. Obtain a bachelor's degree

Most creative designers pursue undergraduate degrees in creative design, marketing, visual art, graphic design, or communications. During the course, aspiring creative designers study visual communication, digital or creative design, and related subjects to establish a solid foundation for their creative careers. Some designers may also find work after earning a diploma or a short-term in design.

Related: How to Become a Graphic Designer

2. Get some work experience

While pursuing your studies, you can do an internship to gain practical experience and knowledge. You can also work as a photographer, copywriter or editor, marketing or advertising consultant, artist, or in another closely related design position to gain experience. You can help potential employers assess your competence by including details of your work experience on your resume.

3. Create a personalized portfolio

A portfolio is a collection of your work that best demonstrates your design abilities and style of work. Employers and clients examine your portfolio when considering you for a position as a creative designer. Aspiring creative designers can build their portfolios while doing internships. You can select examples of your work that demonstrate your ability and uniqueness to add to your portfolio. As your experience grows, you can update and expand your portfolio to include a variety of projects, such as print advertising and web graphics. Many creative designers maintain a portfolio of between 10-15 examples of their best work.

Related: How to Become an Interior Designer (With Salaries)

4. Earn a master's degree

After earning a bachelor's degree and gaining a few years of work experience, many creative designers return to school for two more years to earn a Master of Arts or Master of Fine Arts degree with a specialization in marketing communication, graphic design, or a similar area related to designing. Many creative designers even pursue a Master of Business Administration degree to hone their management and business skills.

While you may not require a master's degree to work as a creative designer, it can be a good addition to your resume. It shows prospective employers that you like learning about your industry and honing your skills and expertise. A master's degree can also help qualify you for better-paying roles.

5. Apply for jobs

After obtaining the necessary educational credentials and work experience, you may apply for creative designer jobs. Some places that you can apply at include media and publishing companies, marketing or advertising agencies, or any company that requires graphic and design supervision. You can start with an entry-level role and get a promotion with time. Experienced creative designers, particularly those with business degrees often advance to higher-level positions.

Related: How to Become a Freelance Web Designer (With 7 Steps)

Tips on how to showcase your creative design skills

Here are some tips on how to showcase your creative design skills:

  • Include your most valuable skills on your resume. The more closely your credentials match the job description, the more likely you are to succeed. Highlighting relevant soft skills, such as creativity, alongside hard skills like graphic design software proficiency on your resume can help you find a suitable job.

  • Highlight your capabilities in your cover letter. In the body of your letter, mention one or two of your most prominent skills and provide specific instances of periods when you expressed those skills at work. You can also discuss what you can contribute to the organization.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organization and a candidate's experience, academic background, and location.

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