Advances in technology, materials, design tools and creative techniques are constantly changing the way design professionals work.

These advances lead to new specialisations and approaches - even to entirely new fields of design practice. 

More about design professionals. What do they do?

Right now, Design professionals work in these areas and roles: 
Hint: For an alphabetical listing of all design roles go to glossary-design.

Architecture and Environmental design

Architects and Environmental designers work to apply their range of skills when developing plans, programs, policies, buildings, or products for the built/ constructed environment. In the process, they may create and present visual information to communicate their design concepts to clients.

Environmental design is the process of addressing surrounding environmental parameters in the design process. It can also refer to the applied arts and sciences which deal with creating the human-designed environment - these may include architecture, geography, urban planning, landscape architecture and interior design. 

At a broader level, environmental design may influence the industrial design of products  for example design of innovative vehicles, alternative energy generation equiipment (wind, solar, tidal) and take into account related ecological and sustainability issues.

Roles in this area of Design include:
(for more detail, follow the links to their glossary entry)

  • Architectural Design
  • Exhibition / Event / Display Design
  • Interior Design
  • Landscape Design
  • Set Design (stage, film, television)
  • Urban / Environmental Design

Art and Creative industries

Artists and Creative design professionals use their skill and imagination to create aesthetic and conceptual objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others. 

A 'creative professional' is a person whose work role relies on use of their creative talents and skills. Creative professions include writing, art, design, theatre, television & radio, film & video production, as well as marketing, strategy, scientific research and development, product development, engineering, education and curriculum design, and more.

Creative professionals may work with private sector employers (eg marketing, sales, advertising), public sector agencies (eg education, culture), as independent contractors or self-employed professionals.

Graduates from creative disciplines tend to develop and grow their skills and experience over time, before achieving their 'dream career' goal. Many art and design graduates work part-time while developing in their creative work practice, generating income while keeping sight of their artistic goals. Others may combine postgraduate study with employment in their preferred creative field to develop specific vocational or technical skills while they study.

Fine and applied arts graduates may work as artists, painters, illustrators, arts and craft designer-makers, teachers or art technicians. Media, art and design graduates may find employment outside traditional arts and design sectors, in areas, for example, such as: retail, community, educational and training services, specialist publishing, web and multimedia design services, media communications companies, or advertising and publishing companies.

Beside creative skills, professional development is also important. Creative professionals, especially if self-employed, need to develop skills in pricing, marketing, copyright, contracts, project management and people management. 

Roles in this area of Design include:
(for more detail, follow the links to their glossary entry)

  • Artist
  • Artistic Director
  • Craft professionals
    - Ceramic Artist
    - Glass Artist
    - Jewellery Designer
    - Shoe Designer
  • Museum / Gallery Curator or Director
  • Photographer / Digital Artist
  • Sculptor 

Industrial and Product design

Industrial and Product designers develop new products, with a  focus on the form of products and how they function, paying particular attention to ergonomics, ease of use and human behaviour. Their roles can include:

  • preparing drawings and illustrations of products to assist in the decision making process and to support marketing efforts;
  • factoring in various marketing, manufacturing and financial requirements, to achieve the optimum design of a product;
  • developing models  to demonstrate new products and prototypes test products before manufacture. 

Read graduate James's professional profile - about his work as a Product Designer in the Furniture Industry.

Roles in this area of Design include:
(for more detail, follow the links to their glossary entry)

  • Automotive Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Furniture Design
  • Industrial Design
  • Product Design


Visual Communications / Graphic design

Visual Communications and Graphic designers apply creative skills to communicate information to a specific audience. They use illustrations or photography to demonstrate their creative solutions to the client's needs.

Graphic designers and Visual communication specialists combine their creative skills with the use of symbols, colours and pictures with their understanding of text based communication to communicate information for print or digital media clearly and effectively to a specific audience. They prepare concept layouts and mock-ups, discuss and refine these with clients, and may prepare or subcontract diagrams, illustrations or photography. Visual communication specialists are also known as Graphic designers.

Roles in this area of Design include:
(for more detail, follow the links to their glossary entry)

  • Advertising / Art Direction
  • Book Illustration
  • Digital, Web and Multimedia Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Information Design / Wayfinding
  • Logo Design and Brand Identity
  • Print Publication (magazine, news)
  • Package Design
  • Typography 

leap logo

LEAP logo design competition 2012

 Winner : 
Fahreen Haque, Master of Multimedia Design student, Monash University.


Design professionals and students tell their own stories

View videos and read first-hand accounts from university design graduates about their experiences in their chosen field at Professional profiles...

View videos and read profiles of students telling their own stories about overcoming barriers to study at uni. Hear what motivated them to choose their area of study and what they are experiencing at uni at Student stories...

How much can I earn?

The lifetime earnings/ wage gap, between people who graduate from university and those who don't, is significant. Different research measures estimate the higher lifetime earnings by graduates at anywhere from 30% to 75% greater than school leavers 1.

Average weekly earnings before tax (2015 data) for design professions range from $1,002 (Interior Designer) to $1,280 (Graphic Designer) 2. Check out the Design profession snapshot infographic below, for earnings data in other areas of Design. 

Art & Design University graduates (Bachelor, newly qualified, under 25) can start on annual incomes of: Art & Design - $40k to $62k, with a median of $40k; Architecture & Building - $40k to 60k, with a median of $45k 3.

1 ABC News Fact Check - see graduate-earnings-and-unemployment-claim-overblown/5446462
2 ABS Characteristics of Employment Survey.
3 Graduate careers Australia - - Graduate Salaries Report 2015.

Useful links

LEAP Partner Universities -  from here, you can follow links to our partner universities' LEAP landing pages, for direct access to info about each university, their courses, scholarships, student support services, pathways options and other useful information.

 Design Institute of Australia - 'The voice of professional design in Australia'

Students - Beyond School has lots relevant information about the world of work, work experience, career planning, pathways and development, and occupations for secondary school students. (Victorian Government site)

Study Assist helps school students and their families understand what support they are eligible for if pursuing higher education, based on a range of study options available to them. (Australian Government site)

My Future has a guide to career development, to education beyond Year 12, videos by professionals and interactive career quizzes. My Future also has a new myfuture forum, a tool allowing you to talk to people working in a range of industries. (Australian Government site)

Bullseye posters - School subjects you like and jobs they can lead to. (Australian Government site)

Job Outlook is a careers and labour market research information site to help individuals decide on their future career. (Australian Government site)

My Skills - Online information about vocational education and training options. (Australian Government site)

Good Universities Guide - Online careers guide.

Start building your skills now

If you think a career in design is for you, why not start planning how to get there? Go to Building skills to see what you can do right now. Then remember to review your Career Action Plan with your teacher or careers teacher.

Get in touch

To enquire about LEAP activities for your school
please contact one of LEAP's participating Universities