Popular Careers

Career Development

Career development resources for aspiring professionals.

Career Change Center

Career change guides, tutorials and resources for professionals in transition.

Job Search Resources

Job search resources, websites, guides and directories for job seekers.


Career and Education Opportunities for Graphic Designers in San Francisco, California

There is a wide variety of career and education opportunities for graphic designers in the San Francisco, California area. There are currently 36,700 jobs for graphic designers in California and this is projected to grow by 14% to about 41,800 jobs by 2016. This is better than the national trend for graphic designers, which sees this job pool growing by about 12.9% over the next eight years. Graphic designers generally design or create graphics to meet specific commercial or promotional needs, such as packaging, displays, or logos.

Graphic designers earn approximately $24 per hour or $50,520 yearly on average in California. Nationally they average about $20 hourly or $42,400 yearly. Earnings for graphic designers are not quite as good as earnings in the general category of Art and Design in California and not quite as good as general Art and Design category earnings nationally. Graphic designers work in a variety of jobs, including: desktop publisher, food stylist, and digital artist.

There are eighty-six schools of higher education in the San Francisco area, including twenty-one within twenty-five miles of San Francisco where you can get a degree to start your career as a graphic designer. Given that the most common education level for graphic designers is a Bachelor's degree, you can expect to spend about four years studying to be a graphic designer if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Graphic Designer

In general, graphic designers design or create graphics to meet specific commercial or promotional needs, such as packaging, displays, or logos. They also may use a variety of mediums to achieve artistic or decorative effects.

Graphic designers develop designs and sample layouts on the basis of knowledge of layout principles and esthetic design concepts. They also maintain archives of images or previous work products. Equally important, graphic designers have to design negatives and prints to produce layout photographs, using negative and print developing equipment and tools. They are often called upon to use computer software to generate new images. They are expected to design graphics and layouts for product illustrations and Internet websites. Finally, graphic designers key data into computer equipment to generate layouts for clients or supervisors.

Every day, graphic designers are expected to be able to articulate ideas and problems. They need to be creative and generate new ideas.

It is important for graphic designers to mark up and assemble final layouts to ready layouts for printer. They are often called upon to produce still and animated graphics for on-air and taped portions of television news broadcasts, using electronic video equipment. They also research new software or layout concepts. They are sometimes expected to talk with clients to consider and decide on layout design. Somewhat less frequently, graphic designers are also expected to photograph layouts, using camera, to make layout prints for supervisors or clients.

Graphic designers sometimes are asked to inspect final layouts and suggest improvements as needed. And finally, they sometimes have to ready notes and instructions for staff who assemble and ready final layouts for printing.

Like many other jobs, graphic designers must be thorough and dependable and believe in innovation and creative thought.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in San Francisco include:

  • Art Director. Formulate design concepts and presentation approaches, and direct workers engaged in art work, layout design, and copy writing for visual communications media, such as magazines, books, and packaging.
  • Camera Operator. Operate television, video, or motion picture camera to photograph images or scenes for various purposes, such as TV broadcasts, advertising, or motion pictures.
  • Craftsman. Create or reproduce hand-made objects for sale and exhibition using a variety of techniques, such as welding, weaving, and needlecraft.
  • Director. Interpret script, conduct rehearsals, and direct activities of cast and technical crew for stage, motion pictures, or radio programs.
  • Display Specialist. Plan and erect commercial displays.
  • Fashion Designer. Design clothing and accessories. Create original garments or design garments that follow well established fashion trends. May develop the line of color and kinds of materials.
  • Fine Artist. Create original artwork using any of a wide variety of mediums and techniques.
  • Florist. Design, cut, and arrange live, dried, or artificial flowers and foliage.
  • Industrial Designer. Develop and design manufactured products, such as cars, home appliances, and children's toys. Combine artistic talent with research on product use, marketing, and materials to create the most functional and appealing product design.
  • Interior Designer. Plan, design, and furnish interiors of residential, commercial, or industrial buildings. Formulate design which is practical, aesthetic, and conducive to intended purposes, such as raising productivity, selling merchandise, or improving life style. May specialize in a particular field, style, or phase of interior design.
  • Multi-Media Artist or Animator. Create special effects, animation, or other visual images using film, video, or other electronic tools and media for use in products or creations, such as computer games, movies, and commercials.
  • Set and Exhibit Designer. Design special exhibits and movie, television, and theater sets. May study scripts, confer with directors, and conduct research to determine appropriate architectural styles.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Graphic Designer Training

Ex-Pression College for Digital Arts - Emeryville, CA

Ex-Pression College for Digital Arts, 6601 Shellmond St, Emeryville, CA 94608. Ex-Pression College for Digital Arts is a small college located in Emeryville, California. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 251 students and an admission rate of 80%. Ex-Pression College for Digital Arts has a bachelor's degree program in Computer Graphics.

Western Career College-Emeryville - Emeryville, CA

Western Career College-Emeryville, 6001 Shellmound, Emeryville, CA 94608. Western Career College-Emeryville is a small college located in Emeryville, California. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs. It has 431 students and an admission rate of 100%. Western Career College-Emeryville has 2 areas of study related to Graphic Designer. They are:

  • Computer Graphics, associate's degree which graduated 5 students in 2008.
  • Graphic Design, one to two year and bachelor's degree which graduated eleven and zero students respectively in 2008.

San Francisco Art Institute - San Francisco, CA

San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94133-2299. San Francisco Art Institute is a small school located in San Francisco, California. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 592 students and an admission rate of 71%. San Francisco Art Institute has bachelor's degree, postbaccalaureate certificate, and master's degree programs in Design and Visual Communications which graduated zero, zero, and seven students respectively in 2008.

Los Medanos College - Pittsburg, CA

Los Medanos College, 2700 East Leland Road, Pittsburg, CA 94565. Los Medanos College is a medium sized college located in Pittsburg, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 8,360 students. Los Medanos College has 2 areas of study related to Graphic Designer. They are:

  • Web Page, Digital/Multimedia & Information Resources Design, two to four year.
  • Graphic Design, associate's degree and two to four year.

College of San Mateo - San Mateo, CA

College of San Mateo, 1700 W Hillsdale Blvd, San Mateo, CA 94402-3784. College of San Mateo is a large college located in San Mateo, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 11,215 students. College of San Mateo has 4 areas of study related to Graphic Designer. They are:

  • Web Page, Digital/Multimedia & Information Resources Design, associate's degree and two to four year.
  • Computer Graphics, associate's degree and two to four year.
  • Commercial and Advertising Art, associate's degree which graduated 1 student in 2008.
  • Graphic Design, one to two year, associate's degree, and two to four year which graduated four, six, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Academy of Art University - San Francisco, CA

Academy of Art University, 79 New Montgomery, San Francisco, CA 94105. Academy of Art University is a large university located in San Francisco, California. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 13,335 students. Academy of Art University has 4 areas of study related to Graphic Designer. They are:

  • Computer Graphics, associate's degree, bachelor's degree, and master's degree which graduated one, thirty-nine, and thirty students respectively in 2008.
  • Commercial and Advertising Art, associate's degree, bachelor's degree, and master's degree which graduated two, thirty-four, and twenty-nine students respectively in 2008.
  • Industrial Design, associate's degree, bachelor's degree, and master's degree which graduated three, thirty-four, and seven students respectively in 2008.
  • Graphic Design, associate's degree, bachelor's degree, and master's degree which graduated four, thirty-two, and eighteen students respectively in 2008.

Canada College - Redwood City, CA

Canada College, 4200 Farm Hill Blvd., Redwood City, CA 94061-1099. Canada College is a medium sized college located in Redwood City, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 5,775 students. Canada College has 2 areas of study related to Graphic Designer. They are:

  • Web Page, Digital/Multimedia & Information Resources Design, two to four year.
  • Computer Graphics, two to four year.

University of California-Berkeley - Berkeley, CA

University of California-Berkeley, , Berkeley, CA 94720. University of California-Berkeley is a large university located in Berkeley, California. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 35,353 students and an admission rate of 23%. University of California-Berkeley has a master's degree program in Design and Visual Communications which graduated two students in 2008.

Western Career College-Pleasant Hill - Pleasant Hill, CA

Western Career College-Pleasant Hill, 380 Civic Dr Ste 300, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. Western Career College-Pleasant Hill is a small college located in Pleasant Hill, California. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs. It has 530 students and an admission rate of 100%. Western Career College-Pleasant Hill has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Graphic Design which graduated zero and six students respectively in 2008.

Chabot College - Hayward, CA

Chabot College, 25555 Hesperian Blvd, Hayward, CA 94545. Chabot College is a large college located in Hayward, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 14,299 students. Chabot College has 2 areas of study related to Graphic Designer. They are:

  • Commercial and Advertising Art, less than one year and associate's degree which graduated three and five students respectively in 2008.
  • Graphic Design, less than one year, associate's degree, and two to four year which graduated two, zero, and zero students respectively in 2008.

The Art Institute of California-San Francisco - San Francisco, CA

The Art Institute of California-San Francisco, 1170 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102-4908. The Art Institute of California-San Francisco is a small school located in San Francisco, California. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,558 students and an admission rate of 41%. The Art Institute of California-San Francisco has 3 areas of study related to Graphic Designer. They are:

  • Web Page, Digital/Multimedia & Information Resources Design, associate's degree and bachelor's degree which graduated two and nine students respectively in 2008.
  • Computer Graphics, bachelor's degree which graduated 81 students in 2008.
  • Graphic Design, associate's degree and bachelor's degree which graduated five and thirty-nine students respectively in 2008.

Berkeley City College - Berkeley, CA

Berkeley City College, 2050 Center St, Berkeley, CA 94704. Berkeley City College is a medium sized college located in Berkeley, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 6,000 students. Berkeley City College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Web Page, Digital/Multimedia & Information Resources Design which graduated two and zero students respectively in 2008.

University of San Francisco - San Francisco, CA

University of San Francisco, 2130 Fulton St, San Francisco, CA 94117-1080. University of San Francisco is a medium sized university located in San Francisco, California. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 8,772 students and an admission rate of 64%. University of San Francisco has 3 areas of study related to Graphic Designer. They are:

  • Web Page, Digital/Multimedia & Information Resources Design, master's degree which graduated 5 students in 2008.
  • Commercial and Advertising Art, bachelor's degree which graduated 4 students in 2008.
  • Graphic Design, bachelor's degree which graduated 10 students in 2008.

Skyline College - San Bruno, CA

Skyline College, 3300 College Dr, San Bruno, CA 94066-1698. Skyline College is a medium sized college located in San Bruno, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 9,515 students. Skyline College has less than one year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Web Page, Digital/Multimedia & Information Resources Design which graduated two, seven, and zero students respectively in 2008.

The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising-San Francisco - San Francisco, CA

The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising-San Francisco, 55 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94108-5805. The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising-San Francisco is a small school located in San Francisco, California. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs. It has 900 students and an admission rate of 67%. The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising-San Francisco has 2 areas of study related to Graphic Designer. They are:

  • Design and Visual Communications, associate's degree which graduated 60 students in 2008.
  • Graphic Design, associate's degree which graduated 10 students in 2008.

Notre Dame de Namur University - Belmont, CA

Notre Dame de Namur University, 1500 Ralston Ave, Belmont, CA 94002-1908. Notre Dame de Namur University is a small university located in Belmont, California. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,478 students and an admission rate of 97%. Notre Dame de Namur University has a bachelor's degree program in Graphic Design which graduated seven students in 2008.

College of Marin - Kentfield, CA

College of Marin, 835 College Ave, Kentfield, CA 94904-2590. College of Marin is a medium sized college located in Kentfield, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 6,577 students. College of Marin has an associate's degree program in Design and Visual Communications.

California College of the Arts - Oakland, CA

California College of the Arts, 5212 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94618-1487. California College of the Arts is a small college located in Oakland, California. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 1,688 students. California College of the Arts has 3 areas of study related to Graphic Designer. They are:

  • Design and Visual Communications, master's degree which graduated 10 students in 2008.
  • Industrial Design, bachelor's degree which graduated 12 students in 2008.
  • Graphic Design, bachelor's degree which graduated 26 students in 2008.

Dominican University of California - San Rafael, CA

Dominican University of California, 50 Acacia Ave, San Rafael, CA 94901-2298. Dominican University of California is a small university located in San Rafael, California. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 2,073 students and an admission rate of 53%. Dominican University of California has a bachelor's degree program in Graphic Design which graduated three students in 2008.

City College of San Francisco - San Francisco, CA

City College of San Francisco, 50 Phelan Ave, San Francisco, CA 94112-1898. City College of San Francisco is a large college located in San Francisco, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 49,897 students. City College of San Francisco has one to two year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Graphic Design which graduated seven, eight, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Laney College - Oakland, CA

Laney College, 900 Fallon St, Oakland, CA 94607. Laney College is a large college located in Oakland, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 13,104 students. Laney College has 3 areas of study related to Graphic Designer. They are:

  • Web Page, Digital/Multimedia & Information Resources Design, two to four year.
  • Commercial and Advertising Art, associate's degree.
  • Graphic Design, associate's degree and two to four year.

CERTIFICATIONS

Certified Web Professional - Site Designer: A CWP Site Designer implements and maintains Web sites using authoring and scripting languages, content creation and management tools, and digital media.

For more information, see the International Webmasters Association website.

Web Graphics and Multimedia Certificate: Equips the student for work as a Web graphic artist, creating illustrations, pictures, buttons, and other images for use on the Web, as well as the ability to create interactive multimedia designs in Flash or other programs.

For more information, see the International Webmasters Association website.

Certified Web Designer Associate: Web Designer Associates are proficient in the visual arts and creating the images and designs that capture and keep visitors' interest.

For more information, see the World Organization of Webmasters website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California
San Francisco, California photo by Optigan13

San Francisco is located in San Francisco County, California. It has a population of over 808,976, which has grown by 4.2% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in San Francisco, 180, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in San Francisco cost $218,300 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, fifty-seven new homes were built in San Francisco, up from fifty-five the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in San Francisco are professional, scientific, and technical services, health care, and educational services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, accommodation and food services, and construction. The average travel time to work is about 31 minutes. More than 45.0% of San Francisco residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 16.4%, is higher than the state average.

The percentage of San Francisco residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 41.8%, is less than both the national and state average. Gold Mountain Monastery, Golden Gate Community Church of the Nazarene and Golden Gate Lutheran Church are among the churches located in San Francisco. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the United Methodist Church.

San Francisco is home to the Pier 88 and the Prayer Book Cross as well as Helen Wills Playground and Music Concourse. Shopping malls in the area include Yerba Buena Square Shopping Center, Fox Plaza Shopping Center and Galleria At Crocker Center Shopping Center. Visitors to San Francisco can choose from Astoria Hotel, A-1 Inn Motel and Best Western Canterbury Hotel for temporary stays in the area.