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What does a designer do?

Designers have a desire to create. They mix knowledge with artistic ability. Designers focus in a specific area of design such as cars or Web sites.

The first step is to find out why the design is important to the client. They must think about the size, shape, weight, and cost of the design.

Designers make drafts or drawings by hand or with a computer. Most use computer-aided design (CAD) tools. Designers need up-to-date computer and telephone equipment.

Most specialize. Some work in more than one area. For example, commercial and industrial designers develop man-made products like toys and furniture. Fashion designers make clothing and accessories like belts and hats. Floral designers cut and set up live, dried, or fake flowers into designs. Graphic designers use computer software to design newspapers and other publications. More graphic designers are making Internet Web pages. Interior designers plan the interiors of places like homes, offices, and hotels. Merchandise displayers and window dressers, or visual merchandisers, plan and set up windows and interiors of retail stores. Set and exhibit designers create sets for movie, television, and theater productions.

Designers may work in their own office or in their clients' home or office. They set their schedules to please their clients. They may work long hours, including evenings or weekends, to meet deadlines.

Some may travel. Those who are paid by contract are under stress to please clients and to find new ones to keep a steady income.

How do you get ready to be a designer?  

Designers must have an eye for color and detail. Designers also need problem-solving skills.

Most designers need formal training after high school. Some attend a professional design school, but most need a bachelor's degree. A few designers learn their skills on the job.

New designers get on-the-job training for 1 to 3 years. Some leave to become teachers in design schools. Some open their own design businesses.

How much does a designer get paid?

In 2002, earnings of designers varied widely. For example, the middle half of all floral designers earned between $15,880 and $23,560. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $13,440. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $29,830. The middle half of all fashion designers earned between $35,550 and $75,970. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $25,350. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $105,280.

How many jobs are there?

Designers held about 532,000 jobs in 2002. About one-third were self-employed. Many self-employed designers also had another job in design or in some other occupation.

What about the future?

Designers are expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2012. However, they are expected to face keen competition for jobs. Many talented people are attracted to a career in design.

Are there other jobs like this?

Where can you find more information?

More information about designers can be found in the Careers Database

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook -- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics

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