“Hello, Got a friend who’s interested in going back to school to become a graphic designer. Wondering what programs graphics pro’s are expected to know.”
– Chris7, Mar 10, 2010.
There were a lot of thoughtful replies over a few years, so it might be worth your time to visit the thread and read through them. A lot of good recommendations. It was also very interesting to see the trends in design and publishing software evolve over the multi-year span of the thread. What was common, even essential, even a decade ago falls by the wayside, and new entries rise in prominence and usage. However, I noticed my comments weighed in at article length, so felt they were worth sharing, with some clarifying edits. Hope you find them worthwhile.
If you look at some of the (few) job listings out there, the short answer is, apparently, ALL OF THEM. But the practical reality is: the software your Employer/Client uses in their shop. Which could be state of the art everything on cutting edge machines, to legacy dedicated-purpose applications from the 80s running on ancient Windows NT boxes they can’t update, as the software publisher went under in 1997.
As a battle-scarred veteran of the Desktop Publishing wars, I entered the field in 1980 B.C… Before Computers. When DTP came along in the 90s, it was heavily marketed as a way to eliminate entire art departments. Since then, it has been discovered that training, taste, the ability to draw, and understand principles of Design still makes a difference. This revelation lead to the the idea that giving Creative Pros robust tools and paying them was more effective than giving them to High School interns. However the ubiquity and strength – what nuclear missile guys would call “throw weight” – of our digital tools has put a LOT of talented people to pounding the floors in Walmart, if not on the street. A spectrum of design assistants and outside services I would have employed and used in the 90’s are now all contained within my workstation and software.