To submit requests for assistance, or provide feedback regarding accessibility, please contact


How to Become an Advertising Designer: Ad Agency Graphic Designers

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Mar 24, 2020 • 2 min read

Advertising design is a field for graphic designers who want to work in the advertising industry. Whether it’s for print advertising or digital marketing, advertising agencies need the expertise of graphic artists in order to develop a memorable project that both keeps with brand identity and reaches the target audience of their marketing campaign.



Paul Krugman Teaches Economics and SocietyPaul Krugman Teaches Economics and Society

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman teaches you the economic theories that drive history, policy, and help explain the world around you.

Learn More

What Does an Ad Designer Do?

Advertising designers build the ‘meat’ of an ad campaign. They work under a creative director and an art director, who curate the vision and task the graphic design team with bringing it to life. An ad designer researches their target market, as well as develops advertising strategies to deliver top-notch visual communication.

What Skills Do You Need to Become an Ad Designer?

The advertising designer job description requires a number of skills that stretch beyond efficient use of computer graphics and Adobe Photoshop:

  • An eye for design. It's not easy to learn which design elements work best with one another—ad designers must have an innate talent for their design work. Ad designers know through their research what works best for which market, and trust their instincts when crafting a design. They know how to convey a message specific to the clients’ mandate, using their design skills to create memorable, successful ad campaigns.
  • Creativity. Ad designers must address the needs of the client while also factoring in the social, mental, or political influences of their audience. They know how to work in trends and keep ideas fresh and relevant. Ad designers are more than just illustrators, they are critical thinkers who must venture outside the box and come up with creative solutions to the clients’ problems.
  • Project management. Being an adept multitasker is an important skill for ad designers. With multiple campaigns to design at once and various deadlines to meet, a strong ad designer should know how to balance their time to deliver their materials with quality and punctuality.
  • Teamwork. Being a team player means having strong communication skills and receptivity to feedback and critique. An ad designer understands how important accuracy is for the clients’ message and knows that only by working together with their team can they all achieve their initial goal of creating a successful campaign. Good ad designers are cooperative and take direction well.
Paul Krugman Teaches Economics and Society
Howard Schultz Business Leadership
Anna Wintour Teaches Creativity and Leadership
David Axelrod and Karl Rove Teach Campaign Strategy and Messaging

How to Become an Ad Designer

To land a job at an ad agency, you'll need to meet a few qualifications:

  • Get a bachelor's degree. A degree isn’t necessary for all employers, but some do require it. A degree in fine arts, marketing, or visual communications are all good fields to serve as a backbone for ad design. Attending design school or joining a guild can help show dedication to the craft, making you a more valuable asset for employers.
  • Gain experience. Even if it’s part-time, find an internship or entry-level job in a related field to get yourself in on the ground floor. Learn as much as you can and network with as many people as possible, gathering experience and developing your own artistic ability. Ad agencies usually expect about three years of experience from their designers.
  • Build a portfolio. Showcase your design abilities and various sample works by assembling a portfolio to best represent your creativity. Demonstrate your range and abilities for things like logo design, typography, motion graphics, or website design—anything that shows off your aptitude for visual communication.


Suggested for You

Online classes taught by the world’s greatest minds. Extend your knowledge in these categories.

Paul Krugman

Teaches Economics and Society

Learn More
Howard Schultz

Business Leadership

Learn More
Anna Wintour

Teaches Creativity and Leadership

Learn More
David Axelrod and Karl Rove

Teach Campaign Strategy and Messaging

Learn More

Learn More

Learn more about advertising and creativity from Jeff Goodby & Rich Silverstein. Break rules, change minds, and create the best work of your life with the MasterClass All-Access Pass.