The visual look of a website, digital content, or marketing messages are in many ways as influential as the text. Think about the last piece of marketing media that resonated with you. It is highly likely that the aesthetic of the content impacted you as much as the wording.
Marketing departments across the country—and even world—have recognized this, and have invested in hiring more designers to create eye-catching visuals. From 2016 to 2026, the growth of graphic design jobs is slated to rise four percent, and have an average salary of $50,370.
Design has been at the forefront of remote work, and the gig economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one in five graphic designers is self-employed. While there will be much competition, there will also be many opportunities within traditional employment and gig economy arrangements to work in graphic design.
Design positions are great for those who want to dive into remote work. If you have a talent for graphic or web design or are thinking of investing in training for it, here are some remote work perks to keep in mind:
Work can be done solely on a computer – While there are some designers out there who still use pen and paper, design tools have made online design a routine process. Fortunately, this benefit makes it possible to work from anywhere as long as you have a computer and internet connection.
Use of digital tools – Like most other remote positions, design work is facilitated by online digital tools. From Photoshop to Maya, designers have all they need to perform design tasks.
Kevin, a developer, describes the work-specific tools and collaboration programs he uses to work with clients:
Slack is big for remote work, though it can also be the bane of my existence. I tend to stay signed in via my browser to whatever Slack channel is relevant that day. I use NotePlan for tracking personal tasks. Fantastical is great for scheduling and calendar. I rely on Google Hangouts for doing video calls. All my work is code, and I generally use whatever my clients prefer. That can include project management software like Trello, Github Issues, or a regular Google Spreadsheet, and either Github, Bitbucket or Gitlab.
Design jobs have made remote work and digital nomadism possible for professionals across the globe.
Another perk of design work is that it offers flexibility regarding job type. For example, a graphic designer can take on a full-time job or cut back to hourly work as a part-time professional. They can also go out on their own as a freelancer to choose the projects they would like to work on. Because of remote work, designers are more freely able to change their work style and job type depending on their preferences and life situations.
If you are wondering if remote design work is for you, take a look at these popular positions. Doing this can help you hone in on your remote work job search strategy.
When you know what you are looking for, you can then tailor your resume, cover letter, and networking strategy to your preferred job. Below are brief job descriptions and salaries courtesy of Glassdoor.
UX designers are all about preparing for the interactions users will have with a piece of software and websites. This position requires research, testing, and developing task flows to address the software needs of potential customers. Their main goal is to solve as many technical issues as possible that users may encounter with front-end elements. The average salary of a UI/UX designer is $90,697.
Product designers are experts at taking specifications and desired product features and turning them into realistic designs that then become real-life products. They typically create digital models that display what a product is slated to look like in the future with an eye on aesthetics and functionality. The average salary of a product designer is $106,766.
Graphic designers create visual designs and models based on requirements from clients or employers. They will use design software to create everything from logos to illustrations. While graphic designers will develop visuals, they may also participate in testing their work with audiences to see which designs resonate most. Graphic designers can also design for online marketing and branding content as web designers. The average salary of a graphic designer is $48,561.
UI designers can be described as a subgroup of UX design. It is similar to UX design in that these professionals help create effective and user-friendly end-user experiences. However, UI design deals with how a user interacts with a software program or a website's interface. Their goal is to ensure users have an adequate time navigating through visual elements. The average salary for a UI designer is $80,450.
These two design jobs have similar purposes, so it makes sense to group them together. Their goal is to combine graphic design with marketing concepts to produce visuals that promote a company's brand. Within a company, they are likely to handle a lot of different duties related to company branding. They may help create a specialized logo, work on website design, or create infographics for a campaign. The average salary for a brand designer is $62,467.
Visual designers are a bit of a combination of many of the other positions on this list. They handle many of the duties these professionals handle. Visual designers can create logos, help construct the visual elements of user interfaces, and design product prototypes. If someone enjoys being involved in a variety of design projects, then a visual designer may be the right role. The average salary of a visual designer is $75,611.
So, you know the common positions that are an option for you to pursue. Now, how do you go about making yourself stand out from the competition? Showcasing remote work experience will help, but it is worth it to ensure your portfolio, cover letter, and resume represent you in the best possible way. Here are some tips on how to use these materials to your advantage.
If you are starting as a designer, it is crucial to have a portfolio to showcase your work. If you are already working as a designer, start looking at the pieces that best highlights your work and begin to create a portfolio. Here are a few more tips to use in creating your portfolio:
Include your best designs – Only include projects that show the best of what you can do. Don't make a practice of covering everything you have ever done. Only pick your highest quality designs that genuinely capture the work you do.
Start and end with compelling projects – Now, take your five to ten best pieces and create another category for the two best projects you have. Put one at the beginning, and the other at the end. This tactic will ensure you make an excellent first and last impression on the person viewing your work.
Customize for the job you are applying for – If you are applying for a position that requires specific design experience, tailor your portfolio for these jobs. For example, if your primary task is going to be to design product prototypes, make sure you include images of these designs. Many online portfolio tools allow you to alter the projects you show. So, it may be a good idea to have more than one type of portfolio to share.
This is where the bulk of the wording will be. So, it is essential only to include what is relevant and to keep your resume engaging. Hiring managers could be looking at hundreds of resumes for each position, so here are some tips to make sure yours is unique.
Share quantifiable accomplishments – While an eye-catching visual may attract employers, you want to ensure they understand what you have done for other companies. For example, if your web design helped to spur more website visits or a well-crafted email template has increased click-throughs, then be sure to include this information on your resume.
Use visual elements that showcase design skills – Use your resume as a sample of what potential employers can expect. Add some color, unique fonts, graphic icons, and creativity to your resume. However, ensure that anything you add enhances your resume and highlights your accomplishments.
Create a high-res and text-based version – If you do decide to add design elements to your resume, make sure you also create a text-based version. You don't know who all will be viewing this resume. While it could be a senior designer, it may be a hiring manager that is not in the design department. Also, an employer may have specific instructions on how a resume should look. So, be prepared.
Include keywords – Again, employers may have to look through hundreds of resumes for one position. So, many are using hiring software to search through resumes and even cover letters using keywords associated with the job. Look at the job description, and be sure to use many of the same words they use in your resume.
Show how you have "bridged the gap," regarding communications – Many design roles require individuals to not only work on designs but also to facilitate communications between customers and departments. You may be working with the marketing department on an internal design project that involves the IT team in some way. Being able to understand what everyone is asking for and involving all parties is critical.
Cameron, a designer for a WordPress agency, describes this balance by discussing the work he does:
My current position means I focus on both the internal design for sales and marketing as well as leading design efforts for clients around user experience and user interface design. During client projects, I also act as a bridge between the engineering team and the client, helping convey the business needs and technical requirements through several discovery sessions.
The cover letter is an excellent way to hone in on points from your resume that fit best with what the employer is looking for. Here are a few ways to make the most out of this document:
Tailor it to the job – As tempting as it may be, it is always best to not use the same cover letter for each job. You want to show employers that you have taken the time to tailor your cover letter to their job. So, while you may want to have a general template, be sure to mention requirements, skills, and experience that are specific to what they need.
Keep it short, and only include relevant experience– After looking at the job description, you can get a feel for the skills and abilities employers are looking for. So, be sure to highlight accomplishments and spotlight experience that you have that is directly relevant to what the company needs.
Show or link to your best work – You may also want to include a sample of your best work in the cover letter to gain the interest of employers and lead them to your portfolio.
Even in a world where networking is key to making the initial connection, having a professional portfolio, resume, and cover letter can help you close the deal.
Now, that you have your portfolio, resume, and cover letter, it is time to find the jobs that are best suited to you. Below you will find a list of job postings, job boards, freelance marketplaces, and places to network to help you in your search.
Here are common job postings sites that often have remote design job listings. The last four are more general job boards where you can narrow your search for remote jobs by searching with the keywords "remote," "telecommute," or "work from home."
Many remote designers got their start as a freelancer. Freelancing is a good way to build a portfolio, start your own business, or eventually find a full-time gig. Here are a few freelance marketplace sites to help you get started.
Alumni networks – Networking with former classmates is a great way to find out about potential remote design job postings. By being a part of an alumni network, you have an instant connection with other professionals. Also, be sure to sign up for the alumni association email list as they will likely notify former students of new job board postings, and career fairs.
Design workshops and classes – Whether you are learning the basics of design, or are just looking to brush up on what you already know, design workshops and classes are excellent ways to meet other designers. Many may have connections to remote companies you are pursuing or run their own remote design businesses. Look to places like General Assembly, Eventbrite, or even universities for these types of classes.
Conferences – Attending design-centric conferences is a great way to make connections and hear about jobs that have not yet been posted on a job board. Conferences and related events are especially helpful if you decide to go into freelancing, as it is an excellent way to network to find new clients. This is how Patryk, a front-end developer, and UI designer, began growing his freelance business:
I also realized that working as a freelancer allows more freedom - you can work wherever and whenever you want. Since I enjoy traveling, the choice was easy. I never really worked in an office, so there was no transition to make. I started getting clients thanks to recommendations from my friends or from people I met during conferences.
Facebook Groups – Unlike many other social media platforms, Facebook group features makes it easy for individuals or professionals to create groups around a common interest. Here are a few design groups that are known to share jobs and opportunities.
Slack Groups – These groups are another great way to connect with other designers, and hear about job opportunities that may not be posted job sites. Here are a couple of articles that have put together some groups for designers to join.
Note: While we do our best to research and post legitimate jobs, postings, and groups, we always advise you to do your own additional research to ensure jobs, websites, and groups are above board.
Join Facebook groups mentioned above, and even be sure to do more research to find design groups that address your professional niche. Also, be sure to look for remote work-based Facebook groups that post remote jobs.
Monitor these Twitter hashtags to stay up-to-date on remote design positions:
Look at the LinkedIn Jobs page – Many remote companies post location-independent jobs on LinkedIn. So, be sure to search positions and use the words "telecommute," "remote," or "work from home," in your search.
Be sure to highlight any previous work with a design team. Prior design experience will be sure to capture the attention of hiring managers and even give you leverage during salary negotiations.
Always showcase any previous remote work experience. Remote company employers like to know they are hiring professionals who can be trusted to be productive while working remote. So, highlight any previous remote work experience. If you do not have any, freelancing may be a great way to get some quick remote work experience under your belt.
Showcase only relevant and related design work. Again, use your portfolio to showcase work that is relevant to the job you are applying for. Hiring managers have many resumes to sift through, so be efficient in what you choose to show.
Become familiar with related design tools, concepts, and languages such as:
Look into freelancing to get started. Freelancing may not be your end goal, but it can be a great way to start your remote design career. Freelancing can help you build your portfolio while you are still working an in-office job, and can even lead to a full-time remote position with a client.
Be mindful of job locations. Look at positions in cities like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, and other major cities in the United States as well as in Canada and Europe. Many companies in these major cities may be open to remote positions as these are cities where remote work is allowed as a perk to attract top talent.
Invest in a home office. Design work can require a variety of software and hardware tools. So, create a home office space that allows you to jump right into remote design work. Elizabeth, a graphic designer, discusses the importance of investing in your home office set-up:
I also recommend using tools that make you happy - even if you have to spend a bit of money on them. I walk into the studio every single day and smile at my ultra-nerdy set-up. I look forward to working from my various computers and devices, using software and tools that are appropriate for the task at hand.
Finding a remote design position will not be easy, but if you have a strategy in place, it will make the journey all the more effective. Just remember to stay diligent, and only work with companies that are the right fit for you and what you do. It may be tempting to take the first offer, but it will not work if you and the company are not best for each other.
For more insights into thriving while working remote, be sure to check into our RemoteHabits interviews from real-life remote workers. Also, keep an eye on our design jobs by visiting the RemoteHabits job board.
We wish you all the best in your search!
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