Become a Graphic Production Artist: Career Roadmap

Jan 24, 2022

Learn how to become a graphic production artist. Explore the education and training requirements and the experience necessary for starting and advancing in the field of graphic production.

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Graphic Production Artists

A graphic production artist is responsible for creating page layouts and design elements for use in print and web-based projects, which can include emails, catalogs, newspaper ad inserts, brochures, and magazine advertisements. He or she may be tasked with deciding color schemes, creating illustrations, and choosing fonts for projects. Graphic production artists often work in cooperation with designers and art directors, either on staff or as self-employed professionals.

This job might appeal to creative and visually minded people. More and more individuals in the graphic design field are self-employed, and many artists work from home. However, there is strong competition for these jobs, since graphic design attracts many individuals who want to work in media.

Career Information

Degree Level Associate degree; bachelor's may be preferred
Degree Field Graphic arts or design
Experience Professional digital or traditional portfolio; 1-3 years of hands-on graphic production experience
Key Skills Creativity; good organization and time management skills; proficiency in Mac OS and Adobe Creative Suite Software (Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop)
Salary $53,380 (2020 median for all graphic designers)
Job Outlook (2020-2030) 3% growth

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Now let's look at some of the steps involved in becoming a graphic production artist in more depth.

Step 1: Pursue a Degree

Associate degree programs in graphic design offer the training needed to become a graphic production artist. An associate degree program in graphic design generally takes two years to complete and includes basic and advanced courses in graphic design. These programs cover topics like color theory, digital imagery, and typography. Students also receive instruction in commonly used design software programs, such as Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop.

A bachelor's degree program in graphic design covers many of the same topics as an associate program, but it also includes more advanced coursework in design and production. Undergraduate students typically compile a portfolio of their work, which can be used to show their skills to potential employers.

Participate in an Internship

Internships can give students the opportunity to gain on-the-job experience often required by future employers. Additionally, interns benefit from the training received from experienced industry professionals, and they may make valuable contacts within the professional community. Internships may sometimes fulfill a credit requirement of a bachelor's degree program.

Step 2: Find an Entry-Level Position

Employers hiring graphic production artists often look for candidates who have at least a year of experience as production coordinators. Production coordinators oversee workflow progress and act as communications liaisons between departments and supervisors. Some employers may be willing to hire entry-level workers as production artists, but these jobs may require a bachelor's degree.

Attend Local Adobe Group Meetings

Some cities have groups that meet periodically to discuss the current best practices of Adobe Creative Suite applications, which are often used by graphic production artists. These user groups are generally inexpensive and can be a great learning tool for graphic design professionals. Group meetings feature presentations from other professionals who use Adobe products and can help production artists get the most out of their design software.

Step 3: Get Certified

Graphic productions artists looking to get an edge over other applicants may want to explore their certification opportunities. Certification is not usually required, but it can show employers that an applicant has a certain set of skills. The type of certification that is best for each artist depends on the type of software programs they work with most often. The Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) in Photoshop or the ACE in Illustrator designations can each be obtained after passing the required exam. Adobe also offers recertification exams for professionals who have an Adobe certification for an earlier version of the software and wish to update their credentials.

Step 4: Seek Promotion

Graphic production artists with at least 1 to 3 years experience may find advanced roles within the field. These positions may be supervisory and directive in nature, allowing the artist to have more influence over the direction of a project.

Let's review. You'll need an associate or maybe even a bachelor's degree in graphic design, to work as a graphic production artist. After gaining some experience in the field, you may earn a median salary of $53,380 a year.

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