Graphic designers translate verbal and abstract concepts into meaningful visual communication.
Graphic designers translate verbal and abstract concepts into meaningful visual communication.
Brand Consultant, Commercial Artist, Designer, Graphic Artist, Graphic Consultant
In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.
The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:
In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.
Interest in synthesizing information to prepare sketches, layouts and graphic elements of the subjects to be rendered using traditional tools, multimedia software and image processing, layout and design software; and in determining the medium best suited to produce desired visual effects and most appropriate vehicle for communication
Interest in precision working to co-ordinate all aspects of production for print, audio-visual and electronic materials such as Web sites, CD-ROMs and interactive terminals; and in estimating costs of materials and time to complete designs
Interest in consulting with clients to establish the overall look, graphic elements and content of communication materials in order to meet their needs; in supervising other graphic designers or graphic arts technicians, in co-ordinating the work of sub-contractors, and in working in a multidisciplinary environment
To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.
The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation.
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.
Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.
A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.
A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.
To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.
A Quick Guide
You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.
The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.
The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.
Graphic designers are problem solvers. They research and manage visual design projects. Graphic designers put their creativity to work and apply it to the right media for the best effect. Their focus may be electronic media such as the internet, or print media such as brochures, packaging, promotional materials, and annual reports. For information about visual communication designers who work primarily in electronic media, see the Animator, Interactive Media Programmer, and Web Designer occupational profiles.
In general, graphic designers:
Graphic designers produce visual products such as:
On smaller projects, a typical timeline could be days or weeks. Larger, more complex projects can take months for final approval. Most design studios are set up for everything from initial concept to finished artwork. Some designers put their skills toward a particular aspect of the design process, such as design concept or layout. Some focus on a specific type of product, such as corporate identity, marketing communications or packaging design.
Graphic designers work directly with clients or with teams in a studio, in an advertising agency or in a government or corporate setting.
Self-employed or “freelance” graphic designers divide their time between the studio and meetings with clients, photographers and others in the design process. Travel may be needed.
A typical day for designers in advertising agencies or design studios is spent at their employer’s workplace. Occasionally they meet with clients. In advertising agencies, account executives or directors may act as liaisons between clients and designers.
A weekday schedule is standard. Overtime and weekend hours are not unusual to meet project deadlines.
Graphic designers need:
They should enjoy:
This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 90 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Oct 27, 2021 and Jun 25, 2022.
Review these skills to learn:
|Prepare sketches, layouts and graphic elements||69|
|Develop the graphic elements that meet the clients' objectives||68|
|Consult with clients to establish the overall look, graphic elements and content of communications materials||67|
|Determine the medium best suited to produce the desired visual effect and the most appropriate vehicle for communication||58|
|Personal Suitability: Team player||57|
|Use existing photo and illustration banks and typography guides||53|
|Personal Suitability: Client focus||50|
|Estimate costs of materials and time to complete graphic designs and illustrations||50|
|Co-ordinate all aspects of production for print, audio-visual or electronic materials||47|
|Personal Suitability: Effective interpersonal skills||46|
Most graphic designers have post-secondary education in visual communication design or graphic design. Having a strong portfolio makes all the difference for finding employment. Computer skills are a must.
Graphic designers also need to stay on top of new developments in their field. They should be knowledgeable to within the last 6 months of the latest software technology.
The Society of Graphic Designers of Canada recommends a 3- or 4-year program in visual communications or graphic arts. Graduates of 1-year certificate and 2-year diploma programs may be employed as graphic artists, production artists or graphic arts technicians.
The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.
To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.
Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.
There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.
Graphic designers may be employed by or work on a contract basis for:
Typical career progression starts with a junior position. Designers advance into intermediate and senior graphic designer roles and then to art director after 10 or more years managing designers.
For advancement, self-employed contractors need to build a larger clientele. Bigger opportunities for other graphic designers depend on their qualifications and the size of the organization. Advancement means that the designer manages more people and larger projects.
Graphic designers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5241: Graphic designers and illustrators. In Alberta, 76% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:
The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:
In Alberta, the 5241: Graphic designers and illustrators occupational group is expected to have an average annual growth of 1.9% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 116 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.
Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.
Salaries vary depending on location, experience, reputation, and ability. Self-employed graphic designers generally have higher earnings.
In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.
Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.
All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.
To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.
Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.
High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.
|Wages*||Low (5th percentile)||High (95th percentile)||Average||Median|
Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.
* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.
Pay brackets for hourly wages
|Professional, Scientific & Technical Services||$64,320|
|Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Leasing||$57,933|
|Information, Culture, Recreation||$46,965|
|Other Services (Repair, Personal Services and Related)||$43,910|
Updated Mar 31, 2019. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.