The Top Essential Skills of a Visual Designer: What Does it Take to Get to the Top?

The Top Essential Skills of a Visual Designer: What Does it Take to Get to the Top?
Mydee Lasquite

Written by:
Mydee Lasquite

Sep 18, 2015

Visual design is a field with some of the highest paying jobs today due to the great demand for this particular skill set. The annual salary of a visual designer can range from $26, 076 to $59,603. If you prove to be of value and are able to climb the  corporate ladder, you can become a creative director and may just end up receiving an annual compensation between  $ 43, 032 and $ 154,488, which is highly dependent on what you can bring to the table.

A Visual Design post is a promising career and offers a lucrative future to the befitting candidate. However, one cannot be successful just by being able to connect lines and redirect symbols. Professionals in this particular field fulfill numerous and diverse positions with high demands for visual design, solution, and material craftsmanship. They are valued member of ad agencies, marketing departments, and creative studios.

A career in visual design requires a particular skill set that is constantly updated, challenged and honed. This kind of post cannot be left to chance or luck. Those seeking special roles in visual design within multi-networking corporations, organizations or publications must acquire essential skills before they can progress.

For aspiring designers who want to get ahead and have a brighter future in the design industry, here’s a list of pre-qualifications of the most demanded skills you need to stay ahead of your peers.

Junior or Low-Level Career

A junior designer post is an entry-level position. Most professionals employed in this area are usually fresh college graduates with exceptional talent in design creation and solutions. Most junior designers, will find themselves constantly being oriented, brain-trained, and drained by midlevel or senior designers who work in the company. In essence, they are at the bottom of the food chain and do what is asked of them. They rely heavily on senior directives and particulars before they can carry out their initiatives. At times, they may find themselves doing the leg work in a particular project.


A low-level career in visual design is where you will find starting professionals who are still  searching for ground to stand on. They are directed by higher level employees are tasked with providing deliverables..

A junior designer’s basic qualification is creativity, software knowledge, and adaptability.

If you lack the knowledge and desire to offer something new, then you can’t be a member of a creative design team. It is a basic requirement for aspiring designers to have a sense of creativity that exceeds ordinary understanding.


Software knowledge has become a requirement since the use of digital tools is convenient and efficient for any design team. A functional knowledge of some of these tools  will give a junior designer a fighting chance to become a contributing member of a team.

Adaptability or flexibility tops organization or communication. If you can’t adapt to existing norms, then you can’t become part of the team, and you will fail at communicating your ideas or even offering how to put things in order because you can’t conform to the team’s operation standards and mode of getting things done.


The main takeaway is this: Junior designers are expected to conform and become part of a team. This team will have to work together to fulfill the project designed by the senior members, the completion of which is dependent on how midlevel will divide and implement the project.

Here’s a list of the most notable posts one can fill at this level:

Graphic Designer Trainee / Associate

Junior Media Developer


Graphic Package Designer

Graphic Design Analyst

Associate Layout Artist

Associate Content Developer

Associate Web Designer

Head Web Designer/Developer

Layout Designer

Interface Designer

Senior Layout Artist

Visual Journalist

Illustrator Assistant Manager


Mid-Level Career


Middle-level designers are professionals who have sufficient experience in the industry. They are the ones who have already immersed themselves in trends and have some level of expertise in particular fields or aspects of visual design jobs.

Most mid-level posts are categorized as project managers. They are usually found assigning tasks or projects to specific junior members. What is crucial about their role is that they are the ones accountable to the senior members of the team.  They oftentimes take the lead and see to it that projects are completed in a timely manner and are compliant with what is required or specified in the project outline or guidelines.

A mid-level position in graphic design requires creativity, decision-making ability, impeccable organization skills, an analytical mind, an understanding of the production process, and strong communication skills to serve as a liason between the junior team and the senior executive who is assigned the project design.


Again, without creativity, you cannot thrive in this line of work. Creativity  is characterized by consistency and freshness. A professional tasked to oversee a project design is required to be capable of deciding what goes in or out, what will work with a particular color, set up or branding. Generally this person must have experience in combining colors, fonts, and visuals.


Decision-making ability is used when the task is broken down into parts and assigned to a crew team. An Art Director for example will need to identify what team will manage the back draft of the stage or what to do next should they encounter a problem they cannot decide on. On the other hand, analytical abilities are needed to devise solutions to problems as they arise.


A midlevel officer in graphic design must have “impeccable” organizational skills and understanding of the production process because he is in charge of completing and overseeing the production. If he fails to put in order which or what particular aspect of the project should come first, then he will end up confusing everyone. An example: An art director cannot ask the production design team to come up with the visuals of a platform stage when the latter is still subject to construction or when there are other factors controlling the delivery on one project aspect by another.

The above skills do not come overnight. They are acquired through years of experience and continued learning.

Here’s a list of the posts at this level:

Head Content Developer

Visual Image Developer

Department Head – Photography/ Media Creation/Visual Design

Senior Multimedia Developer

Associate Broadcast Designer

Senior Illustrator Manager

Logo Designer

Broadcast Designer

Assistant Art Production Associate

Assistant Art Director

Senior-Level Career


These are professionals who form part of the topmost position in the graphic design world. They become eligible to hold the top seats in the company because they are well experienced, knowledgeable in their field, and have worked an enormous amount of years contributing to the design of a particular project/s. They have in-depth understanding of each level of production and at one point in their career have done the bulk of the work of executing  project designs.  

Most professionals who ascend to this level are the ones who managed to survive both junior and midlevel careers because they constantly provided value to the team or the company they are working for. Senior-level executives communicate with the clients or they create the master plan for project particulars. They then delegate the oversight of these projects to the mid-level designers who in turn will assign different parts of the project  to each junior designer.


A creative director does not earn $ 154,000 annually simply because of his title. He does not assign tasks to the mid-level designer for fun. To be nominated or hired for this position, one must be, again, creative and innovative and have a very good knowledge of and experience with the production process. He or she must be a great manager, supervisor, and leader, and be well-disciplined, as well as have an ease for working with people who have less experience and knowledge.


Senior level posts in the design industry require professionals who have spent their career life learning about the end to end of project design management and implementation. They have years of solid supervisions and proven innovative creativity that inspires, leads, and exceeds expectations.


Most senior level executives are expected to lead creative sessions during project kickoff and onset. They can multitask and manage multi-level projects from inception to fulfillment. They have the ability to develop creative programs and introduce design concepts that realize business objectives. They can supervise the project process with the aid of midlevel operatives and ultimately decide on the quality control of the design concepts and projects.

Most notable positions at this level:

Print Production Manager

Brand Identity Developer

Hands on Graphic Designer

Art Production Manager

Senior Art Director

Creative Director

Graphic Art Manager

Chief Graphic Technology Officer


The basic requirement of creativity lasts up to when one would reach senior level post.

Like any other post, the design industry requires a professional to keep abreast of the trends and updates in design.

A professional in this field does not succeed by mere education – knowledge and expertise walk hand and hand with thorough experience that one can only learn and acquire over years of exposure and immersion in the demanding world of the design industry.

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    About the Author

    Mydee is a content strategist at Visme’s Visual Learning Center. After years of writing for various companies to promote brands and products, her passion for content and love for offering valuable information landed her at Visme to help individuals and businesses make informed decisions and improve their communication and presentation skills.

    2 responses to “The Top Essential Skills of a Visual Designer: What Does it Take to Get to the Top?”

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