If you’re a designer with many years in the industry but looking for a new job, you might be wondering what types of skills are required from a senior graphic designer. New software and tech trends come out constantly. This forces designers to be adaptable.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to find out what skills employers are looking for from their senior designers. Just look at any job posting for a senior graphic designer. Typically, you’ll find the high level thinking and creative skills and specific software skills employers want you to have before they hire you.

The most important skills a senior graphic designer should have are strong presentation, brainstorming, and technical skills, and the ability to manage a team of designers as well as manage external contacts. Here’s a bit more about what is required from senior graphic designers.

Senior Graphic Designer Skills

Senior designers are required to have quite a bit more experience than junior or intermediate designers. Ideally, they should have industry experience in the 5 to 8 year range, though some positions require more.

These are some of the required skills for senior designer job postings I found online. The postings are from DDB (Vancouver), Mint (Toronto), Microsoft (Vancouver), Michael Kors (NY), and NARS Cosmetics (NY). Keep in mind that some companies will require far more specific things than are on this list. For example, a senior design position at DDB Vancouver requires knowledge of the CFIA guidelines. This is due to the high volume of food packaging projects they will be working on. This wouldn’t be a requirement for all senior design positions, but it’s certainly a bonus if you’re likely to do any food packaging design work.

Senior designer skills

High Level Skills

  • Passion for layout and typography
  • Works well in a collaborative environment
  • Must bring innovation and creativity to the table
  • Excel in communicating and brainstorming ideas
  • Be extremely detail oriented
  • Have a thorough understanding of design concepts and principles
  • Be able to present ideas to clients and colleagues alike
  • Adaptable and a quick learner
  • Ability to multitask and manage multiple clients at a time
  • A broad thinker who is able to offer a variety of design solutions
  • Work closely with art directors, copywriters, and other designers to create effective materials
  • Take an idea from concept through production to post-production
  • Ability to work with and manage photographers, printers, and clients
  • Work closely with a Project Manager to ensure all deadlines are met
  • Must bring innovation and creativity to the table
  • Must be a highly organized, strategic-thinker who demonstrates strong interpersonal skills
  • Understand key business and strategic objectives for the company as a whole
  • Ability to work with multiple teams (marketing, development, legal) to produce products that meet legal regulations
  • Strong management, organizational and planning skills with ability to own projects and work autonomously

Specific Skills

  • Experience designing for both print and digital mediums
  • Knowledge of the production process
  • Expert level knowledge of the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign)
  • Can create and implement complex brand identities and collaborate on the initial strategy stages like audits, positioning, and naming
  • Able to follow established brand guidelines to create effective marketing materials
  • Ability to design packaging and adhere to set guidelines
  • Know how to develop effective moodboards and storyboards to articulate a concept
  • Create digital social assets within a cohesive brand identity
  • Design and build mock-ups for projects
  • Create client presentation decks when needed (Using InDesign, PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Slides)
  • Experienced in interaction design
  • Able to document user experience and interaction via briefs, wireframes, flowcharts, screenshots, design specs, design frameworks, and demos
  • Ability to rapidly prototype and iterate designs in words and images
  • Create final artwork guidelines and print material standards for clients, vendors, etc.
  • Support photographers and art directors on concepts for stylized photography that aligns with campaigns
  • Able to manage and review the work of junior designers and provide feedback and guidance

Bonus Skills

  • Experience in mobile UX
  • Animation skills
  • Motion/video capabilities

Senior Graphic Designer Skills – In Summary

Senior graphic designers at this level have been in the industry for awhile and their skill set should show that. They should be extremely well versed in the basics like software knowledge, typography, print production, concept generation, and presentation.

They should also have knowledge and experience of the branding process. For senior designers looking to move up in the world, it would also be valuable to look at the skills required for design managers, art directors, creative directors, etc.

Are there other skills that you think are required for senior graphic designers? What are some other bonus skills? Let me know in the comments below!

If you are a senior designer or a just a designer who wants to level up in their career, there are tons of books that can help. One I really like is 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People. This book delves into how people actually see, comprehend, remember, and interact with visual information. It’s just a great book to add some knowledge to your existing skill set.

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