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Graphic designers in the UK

All the design principles are exactly the same wherever you go in the world

There's plenty on offer for graphic designers in the UK, especially those from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

There aren't too many jobs that let you leave your home country for the UK and pick up right where you left off. But Aussie Michael Xuereb has done just that.

He left his position as a graphic designer for a magazine publishing company in Sydney and managed to continue the same work in the company's London office. Xuereb, 25, now works on the design layout of Real People, a weekly magazine. "The only thing that's different is the accent and the slang," he says.

"Everything else is just the same. All the design principles are exactly the same wherever you go in the world."

Gary Mazin, publishing division manager of graphic design recruitment firm EMR Recruitment, says that is one of the major benefits to working in the graphic design industry. "You can transplant from one place to another," he says.

This is also largely because Australian, New Zealand and South African companies have for years been using the same technology as graphic designers in the UK.

"Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans really do have a benefit in that they have usually used the technology longer than most people in the UK," he says. "Candidates from those countries are very much up-to-date on design as well as having good technical skills."

Other advantages for Antipodean and South African graphic designers is they come from English-speaking countries and the magazines from home have a great reputation.

"The quality of publications in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are quite good," Mazin says.

But he warns the graphic design industry in the UK is ultra-competitive, with many candidates vying for each job. And don't expect to get sponsored by a company when your working holiday visa expires, as that's a rare thing to happen in the industry.

"People over on a working holiday visa should have realistic expectations. They will most likely only get contract work," he says.

Xuereb agrees, adding he was lucky to snap up his job."It's very hard here. It's quite a selective and competitive industry," he says.

Mazin says there are a few things graphic designers should know when job seeking.

How do I prepare for landing a graphic design job?

You must have a portfolio. It doesn't have to be in print, but should be a good digital portfolio with PDFs and cover a wide range of work.

Research the UK market. Get to know the publishing companies over here by finding out about them on the web.

How much can I earn?

There is still quite a shortage of good candidates as it's difficult to find people who have a plenty of experience in the industry.

A graphic designer who has worked in-house for a corporate company for three to four years could earn a salary of £28,000-£30,000.

A middle-range designer should expect £25,000.

Does contract work mean more money?

It might seem so on a daily rate, but when you work it out week by week, it's not much more than a permanent role.

Mazin says companies have realised there are lots of people in the UK looking for work and they don't have to pay the extra money.

Does the credit crunch make finding a job more difficult?

The corporate side in the last few months has felt a pinch in the financial sector, but there's not been a big difference for graphic designers.

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