Harper College

Careers in Graphic Arts and Design Technology

The knowledge and skills you gain with your study of Graphic Arts Design and Technology can be applied to a number of different careers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains information on many different jobs and careers. Some of this information is summarized in the list below.

“Firms in the advertising and public relations services industry prepare advertisements for other companies and organizations and design campaigns to promote the interests and image of their clients. This industry also includes media representatives—firms that sell advertising space for publications, radio, television, and the Internet; display advertisers—businesses engaged in creating and designing public display ads for use in shopping malls, on billboards, or in similar media; and direct mail advertisers. A firm that purchases advertising time (or space) from media outlets, thereafter reselling it to advertising agencies or individual companies directly, is considered a media buying agency. Divisions of companies that produce and place their own advertising are not considered part of this industry”

“Print binding and finishing workers combine printed sheets into a finished product, such as a book, magazine, or catalog. Their duties depend on what they are binding. Some types of binding and finishing jobs take only one step. Preparing leaflets or newspaper inserts, for example, requires only folding and trimming. Binding books and magazines, however, takes several steps. Bindery workers first assemble the books and magazines from large, flat, printed sheets of paper. They then operate machines that fold printed sheets into “signatures,” which are groups of pages arranged sequentially. They assemble the signatures in the right order and join them by saddle stitching (stapling them through the middle of the binding) or perfect binding (using glue, not stitches or staples). Some bookbinders repair rare books by sewing, stitching, or gluing the covers or the pages.”

“Artists design and execute artwork to illustrate subject matter; promote public consumption of materials, products, or services; or to influence others in their opinions of individuals or organizations. Includes Graphic Designers, Commercial Artists, Artistic Painters, Art Directors, and Painting Restorers. This cluster includes occupations concerned with the creating and performing of artistic works in various forms. People in these occupations usually have interests and skills in 'ideas' and 'people' some in 'data' and/or 'things.' Many, value creativity and independence. They are skilled in creative thinking and are very expressive in nature. Many have aptitudes in writing, presenting ideas, information and public speaking and for performing.”

“Desktop publishers use computer software to design page layouts for newspapers, books, brochures, and other items that will be printed or put online. They collect the text, graphics, and other materials they will need and then format them into a finished product.”

"Graphic designers create visual concepts, by hand or using computer software, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, or captivate consumers. They help to make an organization recognizable by selecting color, images, or logo designs that represent a particular idea or identity to be used in advertising and promotions."

"Prepress technicians and workers prepare print jobs. They do a variety of tasks to help turn text and pictures into finished pages and prepare the pages for print. Some prepress technicians, known as “preflight technicians,” take images from graphic designers or customers and check them for completeness. They review job specifications and designs from submitted sketches or clients’ electronic files to ensure that everything is correct and all files and photos are included. Some prepress workers use a photographic process to make offset printing plates (sheets of metal that carry the final image to be printed). This is a complex process involving ultraviolet light and chemical exposure through which the text and images of a print job harden on a metal plate and become water repellent. These hard, water-repellent portions of the metal plate are in the form of the text and images that will be printed. More recently, however, the printing industry has moved to technology known as “direct-to-plate.” Many prepress technicians now send the data directly to a plating system, bypassing the need for the photographic technique. The direct-to-plate technique is an example of how digital imaging technology has largely replaced cold-type print technology."

“Printing press operators prepare, run, and maintain printing presses. Their duties vary according to the type of press they operate. Traditional printing methods, such as offset lithography, gravure, flexography, and letterpress, use a plate or roller that carries the final image that is to be printed and then copies the image to paper. In addition to the traditional printing processes, plate-less or nonimpact processes are becoming more common. Plate-less processes—including digital, electrostatic, and ink-jet printing—are used for copying, duplicating, and document and specialty printing, usually in quick-printing shops and smaller printing shops. Commercial printers are increasingly using digital presses with longer-run capabilities for short-run or customized printing jobs. Digital presses also allow printers to transfer files, blend colors, and proof images electronically, thus avoiding the costly and time-consuming steps of making printing plates that are common in offset printing.”

"Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of an organization’s computer networks. They organize, install, and support an organization’s computer systems, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), network segments, intranets, and other data communication systems."

All of the above descriptions are based on information at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

Job Market Outlook

Graphic Arts Career Profiles

Get detailed information on graphic arts and design technology careers, including employment growth, salary, and top employers in the Chicago area. 

Last Updated: 4/8/24