I am a programmer (hobbyist), and without that specific purpose or need, I ended knowing things in areas which I call "obscure areas" (since I don't know a better term). I mean, areas in which there aren't that many jobs, but there are almost no people working on them, or many having relevant knowledge at all. (E.g. Cobol programmers, people knowing machine language, kernel hackers, etc...)

These areas in some specific conditions, (such as the companies really needing them) result in jobs being paid very well. Much better than the average programmer.

The problem is that I tried to explain this concept to a friend (which has no hope in having a decent job; she wants to go further with design), and while she got my point, she couldn't have a single idea of such area in design.

I am not that wise talking about design, and ended pointing as a "maybe", to hybrid jobs (half of each area), like those at 3D animation/programming. Jobs where there aren't (as far as I know) many people working because of the limitation of most design people being bad at things such as programming, and most programming people being bad at things such as design.

I was hopping for you to give me an idea of hard areas inside design, where there are no big cost barriers to go in, even if there is a huge learning curve and requirements to have knowledge on it.

  • 1
    Literally everything you see and touch has been designed. The answers to this are way, way, too broad in my opinion.
    – Scott
    Sep 18, 2014 at 22:32
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    What you're describing is simply a specialist. Someone that focused on one area of design and does it really, really well. What that area is, is as @Scott said, too broad to determine for you.
    – Ryan
    Sep 18, 2014 at 23:02
  • @scott - I know. I am asking for a general idea about those areas. It probably doesn't fits stack exchange answering style, with only one correct answer, but if someone could at least provide three valid examples (just like i told in my area), it would be great :)
    – SOMN
    Sep 18, 2014 at 23:02
  • Ryan, can you please give a few examples. A sample job please. As i said I'll accept an answer with a few valid examples :)
    – SOMN
    Sep 18, 2014 at 23:04
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    @Ryan that's not entirely true. There are actually niche fields where a job is pretty much guaranteed (at least for a period of time). Industries where companies are actually willing to fund training so that they can hire you. For one example of a job like that right now would be welding. There's such demand that if you want to do it, you pretty much have a guaranteed job. Granted, graphic design is not one of those industries. :)
    – DA01
    Sep 19, 2014 at 2:21

4 Answers 4


I think you're asking about niche sub-fields with in the world of graphic design?

Off the top of my head:

  • Typeface designer (it's an incredibly small industry, albeit one that doesn't make many people rich)
  • Calligraphers (historically for documents, wedding invites; today they tend to be hired for custom hand lettering for a wide range of uses)
  • hand painted signage
  • Letterpress printers/Linotype operators
  • Graphic Design scholar/historian/author

The primary difference between these types of jobs and say COBOL programmers is that while niche skills, there's more than enough people that do it to meet demand (since for a lot of people, making art is more appealing than learning antiquated programming languages). So these aren't typically high paying positions.

So these definitely meet the 'high level of specialization/difficulty/niche' aspects--but not really the 'high paying/guaranteed to find a job' aspects.


The recruiters in Sydney sometimes find it hard to find good packaging designers - with high level press/ink knowledge. Often niche requirements (to get selected) you will have to need alot of experience to stand out.

Being really good in a specific area, such as Fashion or FMCG or corporate branding - recruiters and job advertisers can be very specific for their demands.


Unlike, engineering design fields there is much less need for "maintenance" graphic design. It is also quite rare that legacy data can not be converted to a newer format. Therefore there are less legacy stuff that could not be done by any competent user.

These niche fields suddenly do start to pop up when you enter more technical fields like 3d graphics, which is not generally considered graphics design. Or when it is its different from general 3d graphics production. 3D graphics has niche fields that pay well, but they are allmost impossible to get to since the skills required are hard to build.

Mostly you find these things build up where tech workers interface with graphics like building automated layout systems etc. Even cobol skill is not hard to find, just not seen as a nice job. Ive done business cobol and quie frankly no amount of pay would make me do it anymore. Besides knowing cobol is not the problem but rather knowing their spagetti code and ability to deal with a scared management team.


Screen printing color separator / graphic artist.

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