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How Long Does it Take to Learn Graphic Design?

Matic Broz profile picture By Matic Broz Updated June 21, 2022
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Quick Answer

Learning the basics of graphic design takes a few weeks, but mastering it takes years. The actual time required to learn graphic design is determined by your current skill level and the amount of effort you put into mastering it.

Graphics designers improve rapidly when they use quality stock photos, understand the composition, and focus on mastering Adobe Illustrator.

Graphic design is a skill that requires a lot of practice and patience. In fact, there are thousands of talented designers who make a living with their skills, but none of them learned it overnight.

How long does it take to study graphic design?

The time it takes to learn graphic design depends on the individual’s prior education and experience with graphic design. A university degree typically takes four years, while online courses or boot camps last from a few weeks to six months.

Which one you choose depends on how much time and budget you can afford to spend on education. Though nowadays most employers place emphasis on experience, a solid foundation in the basics of graphic design is still critical to your success.

We’ve noticed time and time again that getting as much knowledge as possible, both theoretical and practical, increases your chances of succeeding. This means taking several courses, working as an intern, and getting a degree. Every little advantage you have over other designers will help you get a well-paid job.

Summary

How long it takes to learn graphic design depends on the type of education you choose. Courses can be completed in a matter of weeks or months while getting a university degree takes years (usually 4 to 6, based on your schooling system).

How long does a graphic design course take?

Most undergraduate college graphic design courses take four years to complete, while postgraduate courses take two to three years. Online courses are generally shorter, so you can finish them in a matter of weeks.

How long does it take to learn graphic design by yourself?

Learning graphic design on your own is definitely possible, but it takes longer than a proper education. If you want to teach yourself graphic design, it’ll take you, on average, twice as long to reach the same level of knowledge.

It takes several years for graphic designers to establish good relationships with their clients and other designers. New partnerships help you meet prospective clients and land profitable jobs, which can pay up to $100K+ per year.

Is Graphic Design Easy? – The truth

Graphic design is easy to learn, but mastering it requires time and dedication, creative thinking, and sometimes working outside your comfort zone. Graphic design encompasses learning the fundamentals of design, learning to use graphic tools, and knowing how to express ideas and emotions visually.

You can become a graphic designer by watching YouTube videos for 24 hours and playing with Adobe Illustrator. However, you won’t have much success against an experienced designer. You won’t have an “eye” for design. You won’t have experience with design or how it sells. You won’t have contacts. And to get clients, you’ll have to sell yourself cheap.

Summary

Graphic design is easy to learn and at the same time also very enjoyable. However, getting an eye for design cannot be learned overnight. It’s a life-long process, so expect to improve all the time.

How to Learn Graphic Design Fast?

The fastest way to learn graphic design is to start with the basics and practice as much as you can. Many novice graphic designers jump ahead and build knowledge on shaky foundations, which slows down their learning process. So, make sure you start at the beginning and work your way up.

Step 1: Set a goal

You won’t be able to succeed if you don’t know what’s your focus. Set a goal, such as, “in 2 years I want to work for a graphic design bureau” or “I want to make $2000/month freelancing”.

Once you have your goal set up, it’s time to analyze how you’ll get there. The following is what we’ve seen works the best for beginners.

Step 2: Get a solid source of stock photos

Yes, we know, there’s a stigma around using stock photos. However, every pro graphic designer uses them because they are cheap, accessible, and taken by professional photographers.

Our experience with stock photo sites for graphic designers shows that Adobe Stock is the best source of stock content when you use Adobe Illustrator and other Adobe apps.

If you’re on a tight budget, Canva is a cheaper solution that is more beginner-friendly anyway. For $9.99/month, you get a simple-to-use editor and an unlimited supply of stock images.

Canva creating a Pinterest pin
A simple example of creating a Pinterest pin in Canva.

Step 3. Get pro vector illustration software.

All your practice is useless if you don’t use good equipment. We recommend using Adobe Illustrator as it’s the best software for this purpose. Also, most clients and employers require you to use Adobe apps. If you can’t afford paid apps yet, start with free options like Inkscape.

Step 4. Master the theory.

Sitting in front of a thick book and memorizing the entire theory is not only tedious but also ineffective. The best way to learn the theory is to apply it when necessary. Also, make it your nighttime reading.

Step 5. Practice, practice, and practice.

It’s a cliche for a reason. Practice is the most important factor in acquiring any new skill. You’ve probably heard of the 10,000-hour rule before—it states that to become an expert in a field, you need to put in 10,000 hours of practice.

Summary

Set a goal, get a quality source of stock images, get the graphic design software, learn from pros, master the theory, and practice a lot. Don’t expect the success to come over night, but you can speed it up by following these steps.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is graphic design hard to learn?

Learning graphic design is easy, but it requires a lot of creativity, dedication, and motivation. To get better at graphic design, you need to keep practicing and improving your skills, which takes time and effort.
Graphic designers need to stay up to date with the latest in the creative field, which takes additional time and effort. However, most graphic designers find that the constant need for improvement makes learning more interesting.

Do you need a degree to become a graphic designer?

No, you don’t need a degree to become a graphic designer. Some employers want degrees, but real creative companies seek employees who have plenty of experience and talent.
So it’s crucial you build an impressive resume, such as a portfolio of your previous work, with a short blurb about yourself. And the perfect website builder for this job is Pixpa.

Can I study graphic design if I can’t draw?

Yes, you can study and learn graphic design even if you can’t draw. Nowadays, most of the graphic design work takes place on computers and tablets, so drawing is no longer a prerequisite.

Can I learn graphic design in 2 months?

Yes, you can grasp the basics of graphic design in 2 months, but it takes several years to master it. In fact, you’ll learn that even decades later you can keep improving your skills.
This is the main reason senior graphic designers are paid more than interns. For one, they have an abundance of experience. Also, they can work a lot faster and they oversee the work of their subordinates.

Can I learn graphic design on my own?

Yes, you can learn graphic design on your own by reading books, watching tutorials online, and taking courses. However, it will take you years to become good at graphic design unless you get formal training.

How do beginners learn graphic design?

Beginners can start learning graphic design with the help of online courses. There are many free resources available on the internet which provide information about graphic design.

What education do you need to become a graphic designer?

To become a graphic designer, you must have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, illustration, fine arts, communications, or related fields. You can get your bachelor’s degree online through distance learning programs.

Can I learn graphic design online?

Yes, there are several great resources available online. You can find free tutorials and courses at sites like Lynda.com, CreativeLive.net, Udemy.com, and Skillshare.com. Check out these websites to get started.

How should I manage my time when learning graphic design?

When you start your career as a designer, it’s important to know how much time you need to spend on each task. You can’t just dive into a project without knowing what you’re getting yourself into. If you don’t have a clear idea about how long a certain task takes, then you’ll get nowhere. Consider how long the project will take and plan accordingly.

Summary

Graphic design is a field that requires a lot of creativity and knowledge. It’s not something that just anyone can do overnight. There are many ways to get started with graphic design. While some start with Photoshop, others prefer Illustrator or both together.

The best way to learn graphic design is to practice. So, try to draw and experiment with colors, fonts, and shapes as much as you can. You will gain a better understanding of how graphic design and esthetic work. Then, once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to move on to other aspects of graphic design like typography, web design, and illustrations.

About your guide

Matic Broz profile image
Matic Broz

Matic Broz is a photographer, graphic designer, and stock photographer. For over ten years he's been helping photographers improve their photos and graphic designers find the best images for their designs. His work has been featured by Lifewire, Skylum, and PetaPixel. In his free time, he enjoys photography, hiking, and petting random dogs. Read more

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