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Working as a Graphic Designer

Job Description

As a Graphic designer you will perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Consult with clients about project, audience, content, budget
  • Determine the best and most appropriate medium
  • Prepare and present rough drafts of sketches, layouts, and graphic elements
  • Use the collected elements to create a final product
  • Co-ordinate all aspects of production including sub-contracting
  • Supervise other graphic designers or graphic arts technicians.

Source: NOC 5241 and Career Cruising database (Graphic Designer Profile)

Industry Overview

Job prospects for graphic designers in BC are expected in the areas of:

  • digital animation
  • product design
  • advertising, marketing, public relations

Graphic Designers knowledgeable in current technology will be most in demand.

In particular, sustainable design practitioners. Sustainable design practice is relatively new, but growing quickly. There is currently a demand for consultants and designers alike in this area.

Source: Work BC Career Profiles [NOC 5241]

Job Outlook in BC

job outlook for graphic designers

Chart from WorkBC

The Employment Outlook for BC provides job openings projections for graphic designers in BC regions:

Region 2010
Estimated Employment
Estimated Employment
Avg Annual % Change, 5 years, 2010-2015
Vancouver Island 900 940 0.9%
Lower Mainland/Southwest 5,790 6,520 2.5%
Thompson-Okanagan 710 720 0.4%
Kootenay 110 130 2.9%
Cariboo 150 160 1.2%
North Coast & Nechako 90 90 0.1%
Northeast 70 70 0.5%

Source: Regional Employment Projections, BC Stats Projections for development regions.

You can learn more about the graphic design industry in BC from:

Types of Employers

Graphic designers are employed by advertising agencies, design firms, and multimedia production companies and also larger companies with advertising or communications departments and by government agencies.

Many graphic designers are self-employed.


In BC, the average annual salary is between $33,000 and $44,000.

According to a salary survey conducted by the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada the average annual salary for junior graphic designers is $33,000; intermediate graphic designers is $40,000; senior graphic designers is $51,000.

Source: Career Cruising (Profile for Graphic Designers).

Job Bank Canada provides hourly wages for graphic designers and illustrators in BC regions:

graphic designer wage

Source: Job Bank Canada

Working Hours

Working hours depend on the place of employment. Designers who work for large companies or design firms usually work regular business week hours. Freelance graphic designers generally have more irregular schedules, and often work longer hours. If an important deadline is approaching, graphic designers might work up to 15 hours a day including evening and weekends.

Skills, Education and Experience


  • strong creativity
  • computer savvy
  • good organizational and communication skills
  • problem solving skills
  • excellent ability to work under demanding timelines and meet deadlines

Education and Experience

Graphic designers are required to have a university degree in visual arts with specialization in graphic design, commercial art, graphic communications or cartooning.

Alternatively, they may possess a college diploma in graphic arts or be certified graphic designers by the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC). Certification with GDC requires a confidential portfolio review of the individual’s work by the Standards Officers of their local GDC chapter. Two years of design training is an asset.

Experience or training in multimedia design at a post-secondary college or technical institution may be required.

A well-developed portfolio of work is required for graphic designers. This allows clients and prospective employers to view the type and quality of work that an individual can accomplish.

Source: Society of Graphic Designers of Canada


This occupation does not require certification in British Columbia.

Finding Jobs

You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers and electronic sources, as well as through professional associations’ publications.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun and The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily, the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and in The Province on Sundays.

Job White Pages

Also available in print at the Central Library
NOTE: You can only access this database from the Central Library or VPL branch libraries. Access is NOT available from home or outside the Library.

Online Job Postings

    Find jobs posted on a multitude of company career sites and job boards.

Professional Associations’ Career Resources

Identifying the Right Position

When you browse job advertisements, you’ll find a range of different job titles that are relevant.

For graphic designers, look for these related job titles (from NOC code 5241):

  • advertising designer
  • graphic artist
  • layout designer
  • package designer
  • page designer

Source: NOC, 5241

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of graphic design employers in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

  • Ad Pages
    Available at Central Library, 380 Ad2CB
  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “Graphic Design” and click LOOKUP.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume (curriculum vitae) and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your relevant experience.

Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.

To learn about applying for jobs in Canada, choose the following links:

Getting Help from Industry Sources

Industry Associations

Associations for the graphic design industry in BC and Canada provide assistance to individuals. Some require paying a fee for membership.

Industry Journals

Search the Vancouver Public Library catalogue for journals related to your profession. Examples at the Central Library: