Graphic Design Industry Role Descriptions
If you’re a recent college graduate or if you’re just now entering the workforce, you’ve probably looked at and applied for dozens of design jobs. You’re probably aware of most of the popular job titles in the design industry including everything from junior art director, senior art director, art director and beyond; but after reviewing all the descriptions for each, you might still be a bit confused as to what each position does and how these positions fit in to the office hierarchy. This is because job titles and descriptions are confusing. Responsibilities differ from company to company and can depend on several factors including size, type of company, and even the skills of the employees that work there. For this article, I spoke to several designers, art directors, and creative directors hoping to learn how these roles differ from company to company. What I learned was that each company tends to use their creative teams in different ways. It is my hope that by sharing what I’ve learned that I can help to better prepare you for your transition into the workforce.
The Junior, Mid-Level, and Senior Designer
When you first start looking for a job as a graphic designer, it’s likely that one of the first things that you will do is visit a website like Monster.com and run a search for “graphic designer.” Your results will vary but it’s likely that each of you will see several listings for junior, mid-level, and senior designers. At a glance, these listings might appear to be quite similar but in reality you may find these positions to be quite different in terms of experience and responsibility.
So what exactly are the differences? The terms junior, mid, and senior typically refer to seniority. Designers with many years of experience typically hold more senior level positions while designers with less experience hold more junior ones.
A junior designer, for instance, is an entry level position, usually a college graduate with exceptional talent. Junior designers typically require heavy direction from a more senior designer, or art director to develop a project to its conclusion.
Mid-level designers generally have a couple years of experience in the industry and although they still require supervision from a more senior member of their team, they are typically more than capable of completing most tasks.
The senior designer should be one of the most experienced members of the creative team. They should have several years of experience and should be capable of executing projects with minimal direction from an art director. In addition, senior designers should be able to manage their time as well as the time of more junior level designers. In addition, senior designers should have a firm understanding of all levels of production and be capable of not only contributing to the design of a project but also communicating with the client.
While all of this seems rather cut and dry, it’s not. The role of the designer can change depending on the size of the company. A smaller studio, for instance, might be more hands on, relying on more junior level designers to interact with clients and make decisions regarding the direction of a project whereas a larger agency may have stricter guidelines and a clearer division of labor.