Career Paths: Web & Graphic Design


Once a student graduates from F.I.R.S.T. Institute, they will have numerous opportunities to assist in the field of digital media. Starting with internships and entry-level positions allow growth into the industry-recognized positions listed below:

The Graphic Designer has an all-encompassing role responsible for combining visual design, color theory, and the fundamentals of composition. This person uses design software, usually the Adobe Creative Suite, to create digital or print designs. The Graphic Designer is hands-on, working closely with many other people including the client, Art Director, Design Assistant, Web Developers, and more! Their job usually means juggling many projects at once, so multitasking skills are a must.

Visual Designers are chiefly involved with creating the visually appealing aspects of graphic design and typically oversee the visual imagery of a campaign. They are skilled in making an Art Director’s ideas a visual reality and create images that connect with consumers. The Visual Designer crafts the “look” of a brand or product and uses the power of imagery to engage viewers.

The Layout Designer is an artist who assembles images and type to create a visual design. They “lay out” and create the format for the design using graphic design principles. Layout Designers may be responsible for all kinds of marketing material, including posters, presentations, emails, brochures, websites, etc.  Adobe InDesign is the industry standard program for layout design.

You must be a team player to be a Design Assistant! This role is responsible for supporting the more advanced designers in all aspects of a project or campaign and is typically an entry-level position. The Design Assistant has a fantastic opportunity to learn hands-on from his or her boss by seeing exactly what the life of a senior designer is like!

This position uses computer programs to create visuals and effects for digital media outlets like movies, websites, video games and 3D animations. Digital Media Designers utilize computer-generated media to convey messages and information, just as a traditional Graphic Designer would use print media. Their creative designs can be distributed through many channels, including the Internet, film, television, and on mobile platforms. As the mobile technology field continues to grow, so does the demand for Digital Media Designers. It is common for people in this position to freelance, so if you’d like to be your own boss you may be interested in this field!

Art Directors can work in-house for a company, freelance, or work in a traditional agency setting. The Art Director usually brainstorms and establishes the concept for a project or campaign and provides direction for the rest of the designers on their team. They should be involved with and understand all aspects of the campaign, from overall branding to the fine details. This person is responsible for spearheading and overseeing creative projects and serving the role of the lead and mentor for the entire design team.

The Marketing Designer is primarily responsible for creating illustrations or images and developing presentations that will help businesses promote themselves. This person uses lettering (typography), color theory, and visual designs to create marketing and promotional materials that will engage the public with the business they are working for. These materials could include website ads, email promotions, event signage and brochures, landing pages, infographics, and marketing reports. The Marketing Designer combines a traditional business marketing approach with graphic design principles for a truly unique job!

This person uses their skill set to design text and numbers as they appear on a page.  They attract a reader and catch their attention by choosing font settings that create appealing headlines and other blocks of text. The Print Designer may also be responsible for choosing appropriate line height, incorporating images and photographs, and laying out the page. This person usually works in the publishing industry organizing the pages for magazines, newspapers, books, brochures, and other print materials.

Advertising Designers take a concept for an ad and make it a visual reality using typography, photography, color, and/or illustration. Advertisers can work under the supervision of an Art Director, directly with clients, or as part of an advertising team. Usually, this person’s goal is to help build awareness and drive sales to the company or product it is advertising.  This means that people in this position have the ability to directly impact the success of their client or company!

Graphic designers who specialize in designing logos for companies are called logo designers. These individuals focus on creating specific and unique logos to symbolize a brand. Logo designers use the company’s vision to construct a distinctive design that will best represent them and convey their message. Target audience is also explored and utilized in the designing process. Logo designers must be creative and imaginative. They should be able to work independently and under pressure. Some may work as freelance designers, while others can be employed at a single company as the in-house logo designer.

Photo editors coordinate the positioning and editing of photos in magazines, websites, and newspapers. Sometimes, they might supervise a team of photographers. Photo editors are employed by newspapers or book publishers in a variety of industries. One of their duties is editing the photos to improve quality. Another is to maintain deadlines for publications and assignments. Many start their careers as photographers with an education in the graphic design field. In addition to technical training, photo editors must be organized and have excellent visual skills.

Combining the work of a graphic designer and video editor, an animation designer is responsible for creating graphics for television, media companies, and video games. Familiarity with common graphic design software like Photoshop and Illustrator is important for this role. Animation designers, often called animators, use 2-D or 3-D animations on their platforms. Drawing is a vital skill in this position, as well as training in graphic design. Although computer-generated imagery has taken over most animation, manual drawing skills are still valued in this career. Animators are usually employed in the entertainment industry, but some prefer to freelance. As an animation designer, you are likely to work with film studios, video game companies, and marketing corporations.

The person in this role is responsible for supporting the more advanced web developers in many aspects of website and web application development. It is typically an entry-level position. The Junior Web Developer has a fantastic opportunity to learn hands-on from his or her boss by seeing exactly what the life of a senior developer is like!  By providing this support, the Junior Web Developer often has the opportunity to impact the broader company or client goals

A Web Developer is primarily in charge of designing, coding, and modifying custom websites using software languages. Their job is to make the layout and functionality of a website line up with a client’s specifications and needs. Usually, the end goal of a Web Developer is to create a website that is both appealing to the viewer’s eye and is user-friendly and easy to navigate. No one wants to try to understand a website that is broken or hard to navigate!

This specialized position focuses on writing computer code that makes a data entry system easy to use for consumers. These data entry systems could include things like general web forms, computerized invoices, and database front ends. These forms are written in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Flash, PHP, and many other languages. The User Interface Designer has a bit of a different job than any other on this list because they must always keep in mind the needs of the end user! The user interface is one of the most important tools for a business to get right because it is how their consumers interact with them.

The Front End Developer is hired to develop working and visually appealing websites and applications. Front end development is also referred to as client side development: these people write code to make websites interactive and fun to experience for the user. Basically, everything that you see on a web page (drop-down menus, fonts, buttons, contact forms, etc.) is some combination of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS that has been written by a Front End Developer. These developers also work closely with the Back End Developer to make it all come together.

Web Application Developers are all about coding. If you love to code, this may be the job for you! Web Application Developers primarily write new code and update existing code to ensure that web applications can run smoothly from the time they are launched all the way through their lifecycle. These are the people who are constantly working with system testers to find and fix any bugs in code that cause problems. Bug fixing is usually done weekly or biweekly for large companies. Web Application Developers also work closely with other programmers to pinpoint any trouble with the code before it is implemented. A close eye for detail is required for anyone wishing to be a successful Web Application Developer!

A JavaScript Developer combines art and design with programming. They are usually responsible for the behavior of visual elements on the front end of a web page, however they are also responsible for connecting these visuals with the back end. Because of this, they tend to work closely with both Front End and Back End Developers.  This person bridges the gap between JavaScript powered visuals on a webpage and the infrastructure behind those visuals, and they play a big role in the function and look of a web application.

An HTML5 Developer is a Front End Developer responsible for all things HTML. HTML5 is the most widely used and latest HTML standard and is an essential part of web applications (and increasingly, mobile applications). The HTML5 Developer translates the user interface framework to codes that can produce visual elements. This person bridges the gap between graphic design visuals on a webpage and the technical code behind those visuals, and they play a big role in the function and look of a web application.

The HTML/CSS Developer has all of the responsibilities of the HTML5 Developer, plus must understand CSS. CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, define how HTML elements are displayed. Together, HTML and CSS are the core elements of building a web page.

A web portal is one organized page that provides access to diverse information available around the Internet. For example, a web portal may allow access to various stock reports, local news stories, and email services all on one page and tailored to one person’s preferences. Web portals will continue to evolve over time as the Internet evolves, and Web Portal Developers will be there to help this process.  These people maintain, manage and continue to build new functionality for portals around the web.

PHP is a scripting language that can be embedded into HTML, and MySQL is a language for adding, accessing, and managing content in a database. A PHP/MySQL Web Developer is responsible for mastering these programming languages, and building web pages and web-based applications that reflect this understanding.

Front End Developers usually also dabble in the back end, and vice versa. The Full Stack Web Developer is a jack-of-all-trades that has the ability to work cross-functionally on both the front end and the back end. This position is increasingly more common as businesses realize the benefit of having one person who can fulfill both of these roles, and the pay can be very lucrative.

The back end of a website usually includes a server, an application, and a database. While the Front End Developer works on everything that you can see and interact with on a web page, the Back End Developer is busy building all of the behind-the-scenes technologies that make the front end work. The Back End Developer builds the database and maintains the technology to power the front end and allows the websites you visit every day to exist.  Back End Developers are much more crucial to website development than the average person might realize!