California Occupational Guides

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         What Would I Do?
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Summary Guide for

Graphic Designers in California

May also be called: Advertising Layout Workers; Art Directors; Catalog Illustrators; Desktop Publishers; Digital Artists; Graphic Artists; Layout Artists; and Multimedia Specialists

What Would I Do?

Graphic Designers create and design graphics to meet specific commercial or promotional needs, such as packaging, displays, or logos. They use a variety of methods and design software to achieve artistic or decorative effects.

Graphic Designers usually work up to 40 hours per week; however, some may work additional hours, including evenings or weekends, to meet client needs or deadlines. Some Designers work on a contract basis or as needed, depending on the job. Most Designers work in environments that are brightly lit and temperature-controlled, using computers, drawing tables, and easels arranged for the quick and efficient production of commercial art.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Graphic Designer will appeal to those who enjoy activities that promote self-expression and the artistic side of things, such as shapes, forms, designs, and patterns. These occupations include activities that can be performed without following a clear set of rules.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The median wage in 2017 for Graphic Designers in California was $55,077 annually, or $26.48 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

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Annual Wages for 2017Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2017 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Benefit packages vary among employers and generally include medical, dental, life, and vision insurance as well as vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans. Self-employed Graphic Designers must provide their own benefits and retirement.

What is the Job Outlook?

The demand for Graphic Designers will continue to grow due to the expanding market for Web-based information and the expansion of the video entertainment market. Those with a bachelor’s degree and knowledge of computer design software will have the best opportunities.

How Do I Qualify?

Most employers prefer applicants with a bachelor’s degree for most entry-level Graphic Design positions.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Applicants may find jobs through their school or training facility’s job placement office. Designers also can gain exposure to potential employers by entering their designs in student or amateur contests. In addition, they can locate jobs through other people in the industry, professional affiliations, or through advertisements in trade journals, newspapers, and on the Internet.  Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Learn More About Graphic Designers