As a designer, the tools needed to succeed in this field can be as varied as the clients you’re doing work for. There are several programs that you find yourself coming back to because of how dependable and expansive their software is. For me, there are three different programs that I feel are the most commonly used tools in my wheelhouse that I work with as a Senior Designer for VSSL.
1- Adobe Illustrator
This program has been around for many years. It is called a vector-based software meaning it is composed of lines and equations instead of pixels. This allows for photos to be easily resized without ruining the image quality. As the name states, Adobe Illustrator is a great program for illustrations and print material, but not so great for digital UI/UX layouts, photos and images.
2- Adobe Photoshop
On the other end of the spectrum, Photoshop is a raster-based software, meaning it uses pixels to compile and create images. This tool is great for photo editing and allows for advanced use through education of the tools. Some functions of Photoshop include digital painting as well as designing layouts. This is a tool common in any designers arsenal and, due to its power, comes as a highly recommended tool for all designers.
3- Adobe Indesign
Indesign is also a vector-based software. This tool is great for print-based projects like magazines and poster layouts. If you work heavily with printed materials, this program is the industry standard. The usefulness of the software lends its needed skill set to other Adobe programs, allowing for you as the user to easily transition between different Creative Suite products.
There are so many other programs out there and their usefulness is also dependent on your personal preference. My recommendation is to get out there and start experimenting and familiarizing yourself with these different programs and find which is best suited for you and your needs.