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What are graphic design apprenticeships?

Ever thought about who designs the funny graphics you see on Instagram? Or what about the pages of a glossy magazine?

These are the creations of graphic designers. If you're creative and like to come up with new ideas, and want to use your artistic skills everyday at work, a career in graphic design could be for you.

Believe it or not, you don’t actually need to go to university to be a graphic designer. This guide takes a look at graphic design apprenticeships.

'You don't need to go to uni for a career in graphic design - check out this guide to graphic design apprenticeships'

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What are they anyway?

An apprenticeship in graphic and multimedia design lets you work, earn and learn. You’ll develop technical skills while working in a real office. You’ll learn the ins and outs of graphic design while going to college to study for a recognised qualification, such as an NVQ Level 2 in Graphic Design. Plus, you’ll even earn a salary. All this without the costs and debt of going to university – score!

What will I learn?

You will learn the specialist skills that graphic designers need. Depending on your apprenticeship and employer, you could learn how to create infographics and logos. You will get to grips with digital technology to design web banners, graphics for social media and illustrations. You will gain an insight into the production process of a graphic design agency, and see how to interact with clients. 

You’ll also be working alongside a designer or design team so you’ll also develop crucial employability skills, including:

Graphic design apprentices learn technical skills plus
super-handy workplace ones too

There are two levels of graphic design apprenticeships (read this if you don’t know what we’re on about).

The intermediate level will allow you to train as a design trainee, trainee technical illustrator, trainee technical graphic design assistant, or junior artworker.

At the advanced level, you could train in roles such as desktop publishing assistant, technical illustrator, junior graphic designer, junior product designer, or assistant copywriter.

Can I apply for one?

You can become an apprenticeship in England if you’re 16 or over, and not in full-time education. You will usually need at least three GSCEs at grade C/4 or above – check the job listing for exact qualifications needed. If you don't have these GCSEs, don't worry - it's often possible to study for functional skills qualifications during your apprenticeship.

You may also need to show off your creativity through a portfolio of designs or projects. Look here for guidance on this.

The point of an apprenticeship is that it teaches you lots of skills on the job, so you won’t need much technical know-how or prior background knowledge in order to apply. Great news, right?

Most employers will however want you to have certain qualities before applying. These could include:

  • Ability to clearly explain things and present information.
  • Communication skills.
  • An interest in art and design.
  • Some basic IT skills. Some employers will want you to know how to use Microsoft Office products, others may require a basic knowledge of Photoshop and Adobe programmes.
  • Good attention to detail.
  • Enthusiastic and keen to learn.
  • Able to work under pressure.
  • Spatial awareness. 

Where can a graphic design apprenticeship take me?

Again depending on the apprenticeship you apply for, your programme could lead to a permanent position. Your experience, skills and qualification will get your design career off to a flying start.

What will I earn?

Your salary will vary depending on the employer and the level of apprenticeship you’re doing. As an example, an advanced apprenticeship could pay up to £220 per week. Read this article to learn more about apprentice wages and what you’re entitled to.

You can look at our Jobs & Courses listing and use the government’s Find An Apprenticeship tool to start searching.

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Image credits

Main image and woman at desk via Freepik