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What is a Print Designer?

A print designer is very closely related to a graphic designer, though print designers work to ensure that the print on a page is attractive and ready to print. Using technical and typographical skills, print designers ready items for print using a variety of techniques from determining font types, sizes, and colors to arranging line and letter spacing, adding graphics, and designing entire page layouts. A strong background in graphic design helps print designers determine what looks most appealing to the end user of the project.

In addition to a strong graphic design background, print designers may benefit from having experience with marketing, since many of their projects will be utilized for that purpose.

Work Environment

Print designers fall under the category “graphic designers” with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These professionals typically work in agencies where they have an office and access to computers, software, and other tools of the trade. They will often need to meet with other department heads or supervisors to get input on designs or related information. According to the BLS, about 24% of graphic designers were self-employed in 2012. Freelancing can be an exciting and flexible way for a print designer to work, but for those who don’t want the risk that comes along with freelancing, there are several industries that readily employ print designers full-time.

The largest employer of these professionals is the manufacturing industry, which employs 14% of graphic designers. Following that, there is the specialized design services industry (10%), the newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers (9%), advertising, public relations, and related services (8%) and wholesale trade (5%). Most print designers work full time, and some may work more than 40 hours a week, especially when deadlines are looming.

Education Requirements

The Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that print designers obtain a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a closely related field. Courses in printing techniques, computerized design, writing, marketing and business are all beneficial to this professional and may make their resume more attractive to potential employers. Most schools with graphic design and related programs will assist the student in building an attractive portfolio and may also assist them in finding internships that will increase their experience and help them gain the necessary knowledge and skills to be successful in this career.

Salary

The annual median salary of graphic designers was $44,150 in May 2012, according to the BLS. This is significantly higher than the national average for all other occupations. The top 10% of earners in 2012 brought home more than $77,000. Many different things will affect the print designer’s actual salary, including their experience, the industry they work with, and their location. The 5 top paying states for graphic designers include the District of Columbia ($71,520 annual median salary), New York ($60,500), California ($57,070), Maryland ($56,850), and Connecticut ($56,370).

Job Outlook

There were 259,500 graphic designers employed in the U.S. in May of 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The employment growth rate is 7%, which is slower than the average growth rate for other occupations. Even more disappointing is that the employment of graphic designers in newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers (print designers) is anticipated to decline 16% through the year 2022. This is primarily due to the increase in technology and the fact that most items are now being electronically published rather than printed. However, those who have a great background and a well-rounded portfolio should still have plenty of prospects and opportunities within the industry.

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