How Design Jobs are Changing

Design Job Forecast: A Look Ahead

By Kristen Harris

Forced to be more innovative and efficient with the resources they have, companies continue to need creative thinkers to compete. No longer a manufacturing-based workforce of skilled laborers, we’re idea and technology-based. We’ve moved from the Industrial Economy to the Creative Economy. Enter the era of the designer. 

Design truly can change the world. Designers create devices to deliver medication more easily, develop tools to help us communicate and gather information quickly, and make the spaces where we work more efficient and safe. If a designer can develop a shoe that prevents long-distance runners from suffering common injuries, how would that affect the health of that runner, not to mention the healthcare system? This is a tremendous amount of opportunity, not only to have a career in design, but to truly make a difference through design. 

So, how are design jobs changing? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment of designers to grow at about the same rate as for all occupations, an increase of about 10% from 2006 to 2016. However, they also note several times that individuals with design software knowledge, particularly web site design and animation experience, will have the best opportunities.

With businesses continuously shifting towards creating and utilizing new technology and developing more products, it makes sense that design careers will follow this same path. The BLS predicts increases will come from advertisers, publishers and computer design firms, including an expansion of video, movies and made-for-internet outlets. The emphasis right now is on web site design and animation for interactive media and other technology, and on print and web marketing materials for products and services.

Strong competition for jobs is expected. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design currently has approximately 290 accredited institutional members. Creative fields appeal both to traditional college-aged students, as well as people looking to change careers, leading to an increase in graduates from design programs each year.

Recent trends of outsourcing basic layout and design work to overseas firms are expected to continue, which will have a negative impact on more technical production-focused designers. However, most high-level graphic design jobs are expected to stay in the U.S. 

Just like other industries, technical and repetitive tasks may be outsourced, but strategy and conceptual work will not.  Companies and individuals that value ideas above all else will thrive in the Creative Economy.

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©2009 Kristen Harris, Portfolio Creative, LLC.