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Graphic Design vs Web Design: Which Career Is Right for You?

Both web and graphic design offer plenty of opportunities and room for growth, and knowing the key differences between the two can help you choose the one you'll enjoy most. Check out this article detailing the differences between web designers and graphic designers and see which career path is right for you!

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Penn Foster

If you’re creative, aesthetically minded, and skilled with software programs, a career in design might be the perfect fit for you. Designers work in many different specialties, including the big two: graphic and web. Both fields offer plenty of opportunities and room for growth, and knowing the key differences between the two can help you choose the one you'll enjoy most.

Job Duties

Graphic designers work with images, typography, and other graphic elements to help businesses promote their brand. Most projects are geared toward print, such as magazines, brochures, posters, product packaging, etc. Graphic designers use their knowledge of color theory, positioning, and other artistic ideas to communicate a message to the audience. Design ideas often begin as pen-and-paper sketches, then are created and refined using software such as Adobe's Creative Suite. While some graphic design work may cross over into web design, most graphic designers do very little, if any, programming.

While graphic designers prioritize visual appeal, web designers prioritize functionality. They use programming languages such as JavaScript, PHP, and CSS to build versatile websites that are both aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly. Web designers must consider factors such as screen resolution, load times, file size, and cross-device compatibility. As such, they have less freedom than graphic designers and take more of an engineering role within an organization.


Most graphic designers and web designers hold a bachelor's degree in their respective fields. Due to the more technical nature of their work, web designers are more likely to pursue a graduate degree.

Job Outlook / Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that average salary in 2015 was $46,900 for graphic designers and $64,970 for web designers. However, these figures may not account for private contracts and freelance work, which can be much more lucrative. Because marketing and web design are staples in modern business, both graphic and web designers can work for companies across many different fields such as retail, construction, finance, publishing, sports, fashion, and more.

Skills Needed

Both graphic designers and web designers must have strong creative thinking, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. Graphic designers focus more on the art itself, while web designers focus on more technical elements such as usability, cross-device compatibility, and overall performance. Hand-drawing and Adobe Creative Suite are staples of graphic design, while programming is key to web design.

When choosing between web and graphic design, you should consider not just your salary, but your overall job enjoyment. If you like working solely on digital projects and enjoy programming, web design might be your best choice. If you enjoy designing for print projects and having more freedom to express your artistic ideas, you might be better suited for graphic design.

Whatever your choice, Penn Foster can help you get started. Learn more about our Graphic Design and Web Design programs today!


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