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Design Manager

Education and Training: Bachelor’s degree
Average Salary: $6,0000
Job Outlook: Fair

Design managers are in charge of planning, analyzing, and creating visual arts for display in all types of forms, including internet, print and outdoor mediums. They are charged with finding the most effective solutions to get a message out. The position lends itself to a diverse field of applications, including working with colors, layouts, photos, animation, graphics and other tools to create effective communication devices.

With the rise of the internet as the No. 1 place to obtain information, graphic designers increasingly find themselves doing work for web pages, interactive media, and multimedia projects. Since the field is becoming more diverse and specialized, design managers need to have a good handle on developing and managing projects for print and electronic projects.

Education and Training Requirements

A bachelor’s degree is a common requirement for a job as a design manager. However, those who have exceptional creative and artistic skills can obtain design manager positions if they have vocational and associates degrees. To get started in the field most people obtain a bachelor’s degree in graphic design. Students usually study the principles of design, including art, computer design, graphics, and printing techniques. Students should also receive a broad-based liberal arts education to round out their study, including taking courses in writing, psychology, sociology, foreign languages, etc. Business courses like marketing will also help develop the skills to become a design manager, as will classes that teach how to use computer design software.

There are a number of alternative training programs available, and students will receive a lot of on-the-job training once they secure a position. There are a number of design schools that offer certificate programs, and professional skills schools that teach highly technical graphic design techniques.

Getting the Job

Design managers usually start out at entry-level graphic design positions. Students must build up a portfolio of their work to show prospective clients. Once they have worked in the field for a few years, students can begin moving into managerial jobs. Internships are an excellent way to break into the field, which can be difficult to find a niche.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Job prospects for design managers are expected to grow at the national average. The 13 percent projected growth rate in the field is expected to occur because of increased work from advertisers and computer design firms. While there is demand from advertisers for both work in the internet and print fields, demand could be reduced because of the decreasing demand for print products. Competition for the jobs is expected to be challenging, and finding a niche or specialization is a good way to secure employment in the field.

Design managers can move into other areas of management, including becoming creative directors or chief designers at their firms. Or, they can teach, freelance or do consulting projects. Some designers decide to open their own firms.

Working Conditions and Environment

Design managers are usually employed in office-like settings. It can be a stressful position because some of the work is done on deadline and they are constantly challenged to come up with creative and unique ways to produce information, as well as manage a number of subordinates.

Salary and Benefits

Design managers earn about $60,000 per year, according to the American Institute of Graphic Arts. The profession has a wide range of salaries, from $26,000 to $95,000. Design managers for corporations and the heads of big design firms earn about $95,000 on average.

Where to Go for More Information

AIGA (the professional design association)
164 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10010
(212) 807-1990

Art Directors Club
106 W 29th St.
New York, New York 10001
(212) 643-1440

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design
11250 Roger Bacon Dr., Ste. 21
Reston, Virginia 20190-5248
(703) 437-0700

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCommunication and the Arts