You know you love finding innovative solutions to unique design problems. Determine your favorite kind of problems to solve and you’re well on your way to choosing a specialty.
Design is a fascinating blend of art and science, creativity, and analysis. And as a designer, leverage all of these skills for a variety of tasks, ranging from creating engaging animations to identifying which color schemes speak to a specific audience.
Choosing a specialty won’t eliminate the diversity of the problems you’ll be solving, but certain types of design careers might speak to your particular creative nature or the salary you’re after. Discover which of these eight types of design careers might be right for you.
8 types of designers
Choosing a career path in design can be confusing — there’s often massive overlap in responsibilities, despite differences in industry and speciality. Here’s a guide to eight of the most popular types of designers.
1. Product designer
What do product designers do?
Product designers work with physical and digital products and usually oversee all stages of the design process, from ideation to marketing. They develop style guides and other product documentation, work with prototypes, conduct testing, and contribute to product marketing strategies.
What skills do you need for product design?
Nearly every industry needs product designers, so the skills required are unique to the products. If you’re designing a sneaker, for example, you’ll need to understand ergonomic features and material specs. If you’re designing an app, you’ll be drawing on skills related to phone screen use and website layouts.
You also need to be an excellent communicator so your ideas don’t get lost in translation when talking to engineers and other specialists.
What’s the job market like for product designers?
Product design has the highest demand of all design fields, with an average salary of around $114,000 in the United States. It’s usually a senior role, so you’ll likely need previous experience with product development to be considered.
- Brand designer
- Marketing designer
- Design director
2. Graphic designer
What do graphic designers do?
Graphic designers create and arrange visual elements to communicate a message or reflect a certain feeling or aesthetic. Their designs appear on social media, marketing materials, packaging, and more.
What skills do you need for graphic design?
Graphic designers need to have an eye for form and color, since they arrange different elements on a page or screen. Graphic designers also need to be solution-oriented — most clients need solutions to their business challenges, not just artwork to hang on the wall.
What’s the job market like for graphic designers?
Graphic design is one of the older design fields. It’s highly competitive because the field has less barriers to entry since you can teach yourself. Because the industry is saturated with graphic designers of varying skill levels, the average salary is lower than other types of design — around $49,000 in the United States.
- Visual designer
- Visual communication designer
- Information designer
3. Web designer
What do web designers do?
Web designers are responsible for a website’s visual organization. They work on layout, colors, images, typography, and navigation. Some web designers collaborate with user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) specialists, while others apply their knowledge of these disciplines.
What skills do you need for web design?
As a web designer, you must know your way around a website wireframe — the two-dimensional blueprint used to share initial ideas with clients. Clients who aren’t familiar with web design might have unrealistic expectations, so you need to get to the root of what the client needs and translate it into something that’s manageable.
Many backgrounds provide valuable web designer skills beyond coding knowledge, from graphic design to human psychology.
What’s the job market like for web designers?
While generalist web designers are in high demand, large clients increasingly seek people with more specialized skills: front-end and back-end developers, UX and UI designers, and motion graphics designers. Most generalist web designers earn around $79,900, with significant growth (23%) projected into 2031.
- Front-end developer (codes elements of the user interface)
- Back-end developer (codes parts of a website users can’t access)
4. User interface (UI) designer
What do UI designers do?
UI designers are responsible for the visual organization of a digital product (e.g., a website, app, or game) and how users navigate it. UI design includes layout, color, and typography on each screen (or webpage), and how users travel from screen to screen.
UI and UX designers often collaborate to ensure users find the product enjoyable and intuitive. For example, the language-learning app Duolingo features animated characters that cheer if someone gets an answer right and look sad if they make a mistake. The team’s UI designers are responsible for how the characters look and move, while the UX designers make sure the characters' behavior motivates users and fits into the language-learning sequence.
What skills do you need for UI design?
Great UI designers are analytical and curious, as these traits help you empathize with users and understand what they want out of an experience. You should also be detail-oriented, as the smallest details of an interface make a big difference in user engagement.
What’s the job market like for UI designers?
UI design is a fairly new field, and professionals are in high demand. However, you’ll likely receive better employment offers if you pair UI with UX design — more than half of UI/UX designers in the United States earn $100,000 or more.
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5. User experience (UX) designer
What do UX designers do?
UX designers focus on the experiences people have when using a product. Some UX designers work on physical objects, such as video game consoles, smartphones, cars, and wearable technology, but most focus on digital experiences.
UX designers may have a background — or at least an interest — in psychology, as they need a deep understanding of their users’ goals and the barriers visitors face in achieving them. They’re also knowledgeable regarding accessibility because part of designing a great user experience includes making it available to as many people as possible.
What skills do you need for UX design?
As a UX designer, you need to see the big picture to understand how the parts of something relate to the whole. You’ll also need to make data-driven decisions rather than relying on intuition, as the results of UX research are often counterintuitive (qualitative research might include some users loving a pop-up while others find it distracting, for example).
What’s the job market like for UX designers?
The job market for UX designers is excellent, especially when paired with UI design abilities. Average salaries are around $95,000. Prioritizing these roles is smart — research suggests that investing $1 in UX yields a return of $100.
- Experience designer
- Interaction designer
6. Industrial designer
What do industrial designers do?
Industrial designers design physical objects such as appliances, furniture, electronics, toys, and medical devices. They usually collaborate closely with engineers to brainstorm ideas, create blueprints and prototypes, assess financial feasibility, and test a product’s functionality and safety.
What skills do you need for industrial design?
You should be practical and socially responsible to excel in industrial design, since (hopefully) thousands of people will use your product. You might also be more risk-averse than other designers, as you need to make sure people aren’t injured by the products resulting from your designs. Great organizational skills are a huge asset to ensure you can create detailed product roadmaps and deliver a stellar product on schedule.
What’s the job market like for industrial designers?
The market for industrial designers is strong and demand is fairly steady. The average salary for an industrial designer is around $77,000 in the United States.
7. Interior designer
What do interior designers do?
Interior designers use lighting, furniture, color, and material objects to create interior spaces that are functional and aesthetically pleasing. They work on homes, government buildings, or commercial spaces.
What skills do you need for interior design?
As an interior designer, you should have heightened spatial awareness that allows you to understand what items would work well in each space. You’ll also need a great sense of which colors complement each other. Strong interpersonal skills are important, as a large part of the job involves talking with people and creating a space they love.
What’s the job market like for interior designers?
Like graphic design, interior design has been around for a while, so there’s a lot of competition. Job growth in interior design will be minimal over the next decade, which might make it easier for you to stand out in the market. The average salary of an interior designer is around $63,800 in the United States.
8. Motion graphics designer
What do motion designers do?
Motion designers tell stories with moving images. These artists usually work on commercials, films, games, and web content such as educational videos. They might create animations, though they’re usually working on 2D content — 3D animations are usually the province of specialized animation designers.
What skills do you need for motion design?
Creativity is a necessary skill for motion designers, as this specialization allows for more open-ended problem-solving and innovation than others since you’re often working at the forefront of new technologies. You also need to be playful and love to experiment, as well as tech-savvy, as most of your work is computer-based.
What’s the job market like for motion designers?
In the US, the average salary is around $78,800, with steady growth projected from 2021–2031.
- Animation designer
Show off your design skills with Webflow
Once you’ve decided on a specialty, hone your skills through study and practice. It will be worth the effort when you’re solving complex problems, getting positive feedback from clients, and making a living loving doing work you love.
No matter your chosen speciality, create a portfolio that shows off your work with Webflow, a no-code visual website development platform. We have unique design portfolio examples and portfolio templates to get you started.