Graphic designer

Design, arts and crafts

Career outlook for graphic designer

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would use your creative skills to design the look of websites, packaging, adverts and more.

Companies would rely on you to come up with eye-catching designs that will draw in more customers.

You could be working on anything from corporate projects where design requirements are very clear, to smaller jobs where you would be able to let your creativity run wild. 

On a typical project, you might:

  • Discuss the project with clients and colleagues
  • Work out costs for the project
  • Choose the best materials and style
  • Make rough sketches or computer visuals to show the client
  • Use specialist computer software to prepare designs
  • Produce a final layout with exact specifications for typefaces, letter sizes and colours
  • Ensure that budgets and deadlines are met

You may also produce 3D designs for packaging, exhibitions and displays.

Working conditions


You would usually work from around 9am to 5pm, but you would need to work longer hours when there are deadlines to meet. As a freelance graphic designer, your hours would vary depending on the work you get.


You would usually be based in a studio or office, but may spend some time visiting clients and printers.


You may spend some time visiting clients and printers.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Verbal communication
  • Working with technology
  • Creative
  • Designing
  • Innovative
  • Problem solving
  • Attention to detail
  • Developing a plan
  • Time management

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on


Most graphic designers have a Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7), Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) or a degree (SCQF level 9/10) in Graphic or Visual Communication or Art and Design.

You can enter some Art and Design or Graphic Design National Certificate or National Qualification courses (SCQF level 5) with no formal qualifications but most courses require National 4/5 qualifications (SCQF level 4/5).

You can enter Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.

To enter a degree (SCFQ level 9/10) requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of four Highers or a relevant HNC/HND.

Useful subjects

Courses often require:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Art and Design
  • Product Design
  • Graphic Communication

Other ICT and design-centred subjects may be helpful.

You will also need

You will generally need a portfolio of your work when applying to courses and to jobs. 

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show creative, digital and visual communication skills such as Skills for Work Creative Digital Media (SCFQ level 4) or Creative Industries (SCFQ level 5).

Work-based qualifications such as a Diploma in Creative and Digital Media (SCQF level 7).