3. Graphic designer
The nitty-gritty: The canvas is wide. You might find assignments to design letterhead, business cards and logos for local businesses. Bigger projects: marketing brochures, snazzy websites and email marketing pieces. Most design work can be done via your home computer. You must be at ease with manipulating computer graphics and design software, and possibly know how to program animated graphics. You may, of course, find yourself sketching the old-fashion way with pad and pen as an inspired idea takes shape. It takes more than visual communication to shine in this field. You must be able to translate your concept into words and writing for your client, too. An underlying ability to perceive what appeals to your client is essential. Sometimes they don't know themselves what they want. It's your job to help them see the possibilities. Skip the artistic temper. This is a collaborative process. Tweaking and redesigns come with the territory. Be prepared for hours at the computer and last-minute crushes for deadlines.
The hours: Hours can be irregular. You will need to adjust to client schedules.
Median pay range: $12.60 to $36.98 per hour and up.
Qualifications: Your success ultimately rests on your flair for design and meeting deadlines. That said, degree programs in fine arts or graphic design are offered at many colleges, universities and private design schools. Most curriculums include principles of design, computerized design, commercial graphics production, printing techniques and website design. Associate degrees and certificates in graphic design also are available from 2-year and 3-year professional schools. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits about 300 postsecondary institutions with programs in art and design. A go-to resource for career information is the American Institute of Graphic Arts; The Art Directors Club site has an extensive job board. Other job sites to scroll through include AIGA Design Jobs, Coroflot, Krop and AARP. Let the color wheel spin.