I've been using these programs for many years and have delved into dreamweaver for designing my own website and practicing some coding, but not much else. I got an internship a few years ago that only required Photoshop and Illustrator, but have otherwise struggle to find job postings that only ask for those two programs.

It seems you're either a coder/developer or a designer with skills in print, which I have no interest in. I'd rather be a web designer who strictly works with web interfaces, not the background coding aspect. I can also work with posters, flyers, newsletters, illustrations, etc.

Any advice?

4 Answers 4


Imagine for a moment you want to be an Actor. You've worked in local theater for a few years and are looking for more work. You're even a pretty good actor.

You want to specialize/only want to work on major motion pictures or as a lead role in a TV series. Your skills as an actor are indeed "up-to-par" and there's no technical reason you couldn't work in major motion pictures or TV. You prefer not to be bothered by theater, plays, commercials, or any "bit" parts.

Do you think you could get cast in only films and lead TV roles? Probably not. You kind of have to take on more menial, less prominent roles, to prove to casting agents you can handle a role with a lot of responsibility. No one walks into a casting director's office and lands a lead role without a history of other work.

Most people want to hire someone, especially someone new to them, to complete a range of tasks as opposed to specializing in only one or two aspect of the job. This is the nature of starting out in a profession. In other words, people expect you to "pay your dues" before being elevated to a more desired position.

Using only Photoshop and Illustrator is generally a position one gets promoted to, not hired for. This is similar to how major motion picture studios don't put out open casting calls for primary roles. They offer the better roles with more responsibility to those with a proven track record. If you are searching job postings for positions seeking only Photoshop/Illustrator use, you are essentially looking at open casting calls, not specialized, targeted, position announcements.

There are positions which specialize in the use of only Photoshop - such as photo retouching - and positions which specialize in only Illustrator - such as cartography or technical product rendering. The problem will be that these types of positions hire experienced people. And those people generally handled many more varied and broad tasks while they built upon their career. Essentially, someone may work at a magazine for years, then graduate to the photo retouching position and only use Photoshop. Or they may work at a web development company as a designer and graduate to a UI designer and never have to worry about any markup.

If you are seeking targeted, specialized placement you'll need a headhunter. Because I'm not aware of any employer ever offering such positions as a "job posting". There are more people wanting the same position you are than there are jobs available. And almost every company has one to two employees already proficient in Photoshop/Illustrator who have proven their abilities and work ethic. It'll be a bit of leap for them to overlook their current talent pool to hire an outside worker. Simply being proficient in Photoshop/Illustrator is not special in itself - thousands or millions are as well.

In short, yes these types of positions are available. But you'll have to be hired by a company, for a position which may be less appealing for you, and work your way up to them. You are asking to basically "cut the line" everyone has to stand in. It's highly unlikely that will happen unless you can take advantage of nepotism to a degree.

Note regarding freelancing: It's possible to get this type of work freelancing. But customarily these types of clients are the one-off clients that have 1 project for you, want it cheap, then you never hear from them again. If you wish to circumvent that entirely, then you need to focus on art and build a name as an artist and Illustrator and not merely someone who "knows how to use Photoshop/Illustrator". Again, those proficient in the application(s) number in the thousands or millions, it's not special. Really, only a unique art style will gain a living wage as a freelancer using only Photoshop/Illustrator.


Yes, you can probably get hired with AI and PS skills, but don't limit yourself to these. Expanding you skills means you could possibly land a better job now or in the future. Your options at this point:

In print

Since you can also work with "posters, flyers, newsletters, illustrations", consider also learning InDesign, which generally combines AI and PS assets into larger work, so this could potentially open up new options for you.

AI and PS alone could become restrictive as this combination probably means taking more creative type jobs, which can possibly pressure you to always deliver creative work, which is fine if you like that, but could mean dealing with smaller/local clients, unless you become really good and you open up to wider market.

Business clients, whatever their size, will most likely need InDesign skills primarily, to complement your existing PS+AI skills.

In web

If you'd "rather be a web designer who strictly works with web interfaces", that's usually called an UX or front-end designer and PS+AI could be enough, although more modern, UX-focused software like Sketch are becoming very popular now and possibly ahead of Photoshop. And yes some employers might actually need this skill instead of Photoshop for UX work.


It is not completely a true that you have to have to be a coder to have a job, it is true that recently (experienced) developers are in high demand by most tech companies. However, being a designer (which I assume you one) doesn't necessarily mean you have any lesser chance of getting a job, but I will say that it becomes a huge advantage if you know fundamental concepts of CSS, HTML or jQuery in addition to being a graphic designer.

I know a lot of graphic designers who taught themselves these skills in merely just weeks, doesn't mean that being a graphic designer alone isn't enough, you are just putting yourself at an advantage as you may possibly also fit-in as a potential front-end developer at times.

My advice: If you haven't already, create an online portfolio (website) showcasing your work you have done, which you may also reference on your resume.And you don't have to worry about knowing how to code there are hundreds if not thousands of websites + templates you can use to start your portfolio.


In the line of work I do, I mainly use Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign. Before graduating college, we had an end of year "review" where we showed our work to people in the field of graphic design. The one thing I remember them telling me was that the more skills you have, the better your chances are.

I failed to put any "fine art" pieces in my portfolio since I wanted to focus strictly on my graphic design pieces. They told me that was a mistake. Employers are always searching for someone that has multiple talents. The more the merrier. I strongly advise to not just experiment, but seriously go through online design tutorials and teach yourself, even if they are just the basics of a program.

Nowadays, people want a one-in-all employee. You need to show them EVERY talent and EVERY program you know in order to succeed in this job field. If you restrict yourself to your own preferences, you're already setting yourself up for failure. Remember, jobs aren't specifically for us. We are there for our employers and the clients.

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