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How Do I Get a Graphic Design Apprenticeship?

Erin J. Hill
Erin J. Hill

You may obtain a graphic design apprenticeship in one of several ways, including through a professional organization or through a local company. Unlike in many other professions, an apprenticeship is not legally necessary in order to become a graphic designer, but it is a good way to get real world training while you are attending school. If you are not currently enrolled in school or graphics or a related field, this may be your first step in getting an apprenticeship unless you have the skills to show that you know what you're doing.

In most cases, students take advantage of a graphic design apprenticeship while still in school or directly after graduating. Sometimes additional training is provided by an employer. If you are not enrolled or have no previous schooling in graphic design, you will need to have an impressive portfolio before getting an apprenticeship. A portfolio is a compilation in either hard copy or digital form of your previous work. If you are in school, a portfolio is still important, but you will likely get plenty of samples to include during your classroom projects.

A graphic design apprentice working.
A graphic design apprentice working.

To land a graphic design apprenticeship, contact local companies to find out what they offer. You can find lists of businesses who hire designers through your school, and you may even hear about potential apprenticeships through school instructors or other students. You will probably be asked to fill out an application just as you would with any job, and to submit your portfolio or a link to samples of your work online. If the company likes your work, you will be called in for an interview so they can get a better idea of whether you are a good fit for their business.

A graphic designer is typically expected to be familiar with color theory.
A graphic designer is typically expected to be familiar with color theory.

You may be able to get a graphic design apprenticeship from professional advertising organizations. The application process is often the same. With organization-sponsored apprenticeships, you will likely not be paid for the work you do during training. By contrast, apprenticing for a business usually gives you on the job experience combined with traditional classroom instruction. You should be aware, however, that doing an apprenticeship is not required in order to become a professional designer. Requirements for being hired will vary from company to company.

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Discussion Comments


Head to your local newspaper and request the opportunity to work there and learn how to best use design tools (i.e., the Adobe suite) for free or very little pay. You'll find some takers that way -- newspapers have tight budgets these days, are generally full of people who would like to help out where they can and are great places to learn in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment.

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    • A graphic design apprentice working.
      By: vukas
      A graphic design apprentice working.
    • A graphic designer is typically expected to be familiar with color theory.
      By: WavebreakMediaMicro
      A graphic designer is typically expected to be familiar with color theory.