Art—drawing, coloring, capturing real life with imagery—is one of the first skills people learn. Before you were speaking in fully formed sentences and explaining big concepts, you were illustrating them, even if your 5-year-old self insisted that the sky was purple. If you managed hone and maintain those same creative tendencies through adulthood—and hope to weave them into your career—finding design-centric jobs probably tops your list of concerns, no matter what color you think the sky should be.
Luckily, today’s state of technology is digging up more design-centric opportunities, not burying them. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts web development roles will fly onto the market through 2024 at a 27 percent growth rate. Graphic designers and other versions of visual storytellers have a place at the table too, though the rise of content strategy and user experience has added a slew of new titles into the mix.
Don’t worry. If you’re on the hunt for a career path that perfectly pairs your innate talents with hard skills you’ve mastered in previous projects or classrooms, you have to stop your own mental bias.
Think back to your last online job search. If you weren’t peddling your resume through LinkedIn or capitalizing on opportunities sourced through niche groups, you may have just typed umbrella search terms into Google. If you think the only job you’ll love is called ‘Web Designer,’ that’s likely all you’ll ever find.
Go ahead and assume your skill set has a place in all industries and departments. Once you do, it will be easier to consider all the different nooks and crannies where your form of art fits. This list of 11 design-centric jobs blend art, technology, design, and even storytelling, to give you a glimpse into the future of design. Plus, sorting out the differences between each can help you figure out where your skills belong.
Deb Aoki is proof that drawing has business applications. As a freelance UX storyboard artist and illustrator, Aoki steps in stakeholder business meetings wielding only a marker. By the time she and the crew and finished discussing customer journeys and challenges, they’ve got a stunning graphic to represent every step.
Not only does this role help get creative juices flowing and inspired product design, it also serves as a bridge between top-level decision-makers and the creatives who bring those plans to life.
Sure, the title isn’t the most artisitic-sounding of the bunch, but everything about this role revolves around shaping products or ideas with help from technology. Design technologists do whip out pencils for wireframing and prototyping sessions, but those rough scraps ultimately get translated into digital versions.
If you’re into design but ditched colored pencils after preschool, a more technical design-centric role will suit your knack for visuals without requiring you to do too much by hand. In many organizations, this person constructs and optimizes customer-facing websites while tweaking the back-end design to reduce complexity, while capitalizing on what works.
These pros do consider user experience and interface design—with HTML and CSS in their back pockets—but the name of the game is frameworks and performance.
For each of the titles and jobs mentioned here, there are dozens of branches off each. If you’re struggling to pinpoint where you fit—or would like to fit—drill it down to the basics. Do you love visuals more than performance metrics? Would you rather attend creative strategy meetings than run A/B tests? Questions like these can help you distinguish whether you want to stick to regular ol’ graphic design or move into something more cross-functional.
No matter your choice, creativity will play a part in the role. Even if storyboarding is a kind of art you’ll never touch, the role of design in technology will always require innovation. And if you’re on the frontline ready to work the problem out through visuals or code, it’s only a matter of time before you’re one of the company’s most-valued employees.