Job prospects Illustrator And Graphic Designer in Ontario

Job opportunities for Graphic designers and illustrators (NOC 5241) are fair in Ontario over the next 3 years. These job prospects are also applicable to people working as an illustrator and graphic designer.

Note that these employment prospects were published in December 2019 based on information available at that time. You can read our new special report to learn about the impact of COVID-19 on some occupations in your province or territory. You can also visit the Canadian Online Job Posting Dashboard to find the latest data on the demand and work requirements for this occupation.

Job opportunities in Ontario

illustrator and graphic designer
Prospects over the next 3 years

The employment outlook will be fair for Graphic designers and illustrators (NOC 5241) in Ontario for the 2019-2021 period.

The following factors contributed to this outlook:

  • Employment growth will lead to several new positions.
  • Not many positions will become available due to retirements.
  • There are a moderate number of unemployed workers with recent experience in this occupation.

Just over half of the province's graphic designers and illustrators work in professional, scientific and technical services, mainly for specialized design firms that include graphic design services. Other key employers are companies involved in advertising and public relations, information and culture such as motion picture and video, and newspaper, periodical, and book publishing, and manufacturers in printing and related support activities.

Due to technological changes, job opportunities related to traditional print-based design will likely moderate while demand for designers with digital media skills is expected to increase. Businesses are increasingly using digital techniques to expand market reach or to meet daily operational needs. This includes e-learning tools in schools and workplaces, signage designs, and promotional materials on social media platforms. The growing video game industry should also generate a sizeable number of job openings, especially for individuals with game design and artist and animation skills. The availability of provincial tax credits may help fuel this industry's performance as well.

Over the forecast period, job functions related to user experience (UX) design that fall within this occupation should see stronger job prospects. Given that more information and services are moving online, there is a significant need for UX designers to create easy-to-use interfaces to meet business and consumer needs. The finance and insurance services industry should be a key source of employment as it continues to transform operating platforms, including providing services on mobile devices. In addition to employment directly in these institutions, designers with advanced technical skills may find opportunities in digital laboratories, and in the growing number of financial technology (FinTech) start-up companies. Private and public sector venture capital funding is helping spur growth in the emerging FinTech cluster and related industries. Growth in Internet applications and Out of Home (OOH) advertising such as outdoor digital boards, also bodes well for UX designers. Other technological trends related to 3D printing and virtual and augmented reality will generally boost employment prospects for graphic designers and illustrators.

Although digitization has helped weaken overall employment in the publishing industry, including within newspaper and book publishing operations, there should be a few job openings for designers and illustrators with experience producing work in both print and digital formats. Some graphic design work is being offshored as well, which may temper the potential level of job creation in this field.

Among the new entrants to this occupational group are graduates from Ontario colleges who have completed an advanced diploma program in graphic design. These graduates tend to have similar rates of unemployment as graduates of all college programs, and most of those who secure employment are in positions that are related to their field of study. Several educational and training institutions offer specialized courses related to UX design.

Overall, job prospects are expected to be more favourable for graphic designers and illustrators who are proficient in using related software such as Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. Experience with Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) coding are assets. For UX functions, several employers prefer applicants with skills in 'user interface' design, which requires knowledge of computer programming.

In addition to a relevant degree or diploma, candidates are often required to submit a design portfolio or sample of work. Some employers may prefer individuals who are members of the Association of Registered Graphic Designers. Several of the available positions will be for short-term contracts. A fair amount of opportunities are also available for self-employment. On top of job fairs and other traditional hiring methods, 'hackathons' are another means by which top IT talent is being identified and recruited.

Here are some key facts about Graphic designers and illustrators in the Ontario region:

  • Approximately 30,800 people work in this occupation.
  • Graphic designers and illustrators mainly work in the following sectors:
    • Architectural, engineering and design services (NAICS 5413): 34%
    • Other professional, scientific and technical services (NAICS 5414, 5416-5419): 13%
    • Information and cultural industries (NAICS 51): 13%
    • Printing and related support activities (NAICS 323): 5%
    • Computer systems design services (NAICS 5415): 5%
  • The distribution of full-time and part-time workers in this occupation is:
    • Full-time workers: 82% compared to 79% for all occupations
    • Part-time workers: 18% compared to 21% for all occupations
  • 65% of graphic designers and illustrators work all year, while 35% work only part of the year, compared to 63% and 37% respectively among all occupations. Those who worked only part of the year did so for an average of 32 weeks compared to 31 weeks for all occupations.
  • 31% of graphic designers and illustrators are self-employed compared to an average of 12% for all occupations.
  • Breakdown by region

    Explore job prospects in Ontario by economic region.

    Legend: The job opportunities can be: Undetermined Limited Fair Good

    Source Labour Market Information | Prospects Methodology

    You can also look at this data on a map. Go to LMI Explore

    Job prospects elsewhere in Canada

    We expect that there will be a labour SHORTAGE for Graphic designers and illustrators (NOC 5241) in Canada over the next 10 years.

    Learn more

Labour Market Information Survey
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