What Can I Do with a Degree in Graphic Design?

Learn more about what you can do with a degree in graphic design. Find information on graphic design careers, job outlook, salary, and recommended schools. View popular schools that prepare students for careers in graphic design.

Overview

At the intersection between art and technology lies the career path of the graphic designer. Graphic designers are responsible for the coordination and execution of visual solutions in the dissemination of material. Magazines, newspapers, brochures, advertisements and Web pages require the talents of an individual who can combine imagery, color, logos and text in a stylish layout. Traditional graphic designers created sketches and physical mock-ups, and while still effective tools, many times computers are now utilized. Graphic designers arrange how a page looks, the words and pictures that are used, as well as create promotional displays and environmental graphics (the signs you see around you). Graphic designers can even be responsible for the credits you see in movies and television. They have a vision for design, communicating corporate and government messages in a manner that sleek and artistic.

Graphic designers are frequently employed in advertising or publishing firms. Some may even work freelance or for smaller companies, meeting deadlines and attempting to satisfy the vision of the client. Most hold a bachelor’s degree in graphic designer, although Associate Degrees and certification programs exist. Most individuals seeking to enter such a program must have a basic level of art education, often submitting examples of their work before acceptance.

Careers

Across the United States, approximately 286,000 earn a living as graphic designer. Most of these individuals hold positions at advertising firms, design services, publishing, or newspapers. Some modern graphic designers develop computer graphics for various firms. Individuals at entry-level positions will often spend several years gaining work experience before being promoted. An experienced graphic designer can become the chief designer, art director, or even teach graphic design at a university or art school. Experience graphic designers may also seek to acquire business skills, especially one wishing to become freelance or operate their own graphic design studio. In addition to artistic and computer skills, modern graphic designers must possess the ability to work with clients, manage production schedules and meet deadlines. Through all of this, the good graphic designer is compiling his or her own portfolio, a collection of superior examples, which is often the key to successfully landing a job.

Industry Salary Info

As of 2008, the median annual wage for a graphic designer was about $42,000. Entry-level positions generally paid $35,000 per year, while senior designers can make around $60,000. The vast majority of graphic designers earn between $32,000 and $57,000 annually. At the very top of the graphic design ladder, individuals serving as design directors, or those with an ownership stake in a graphic design firm can earn about $95,000 per year.

A breakdown of industries employing the largest number of graphic designers and their annual average wage includes:

• Computer system design: $47,860.
• Newspaper, Book & Periodical Publishing: $36,910.
• Advertising & Public Relations: $45,870.
• Print Industry: $36,100.
• Specialized Design Services: $45,870.

Many graphic designers are able to work on a per-contract, or freelance, basis either full or part time, allowing them to earn addition experience and salary while holding down a traditional, full-time job in another industry.

Job Outlook

Employment in the field of graphic design is expected to grow somewhat better than average compared to other industries. On the other hand, 13 percent job growth over the coming decade will be offset by intense competition for jobs. For individuals seeking a career in graphic design, knowledge of, and experience in, such areas as computer animation or Web design are vital. The changing face of modern technology will only increase demand for computer-driven, interactive media, such as smart phones. A downside to this technological emergence may be a decline in the traditional print media (newspapers, magazines, etc.) as they are rendered obsolete by the Internet. Currently, most graphic designers are employed in traditional print publishing industries. As the field of graphic design changes, individuals seeking career success are best suited by strengthening their artistic talent with a bachelor’s degree, as well as experience in business aspects such as marketing and management.

Recommended Schools

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Learning at Full Sail University has always centered around interaction and the exchange of ideas. Our online curriculum fully embraces this philosophy. We have developed our own online learning environment with the aim of being the most people-focused education experience on the web.

Programs:

  • Graphic Design, Bachelor of Science (Online)
  • Web Design and Development, Bachelor of Science (Online)
  • Game Design, Bachelor of Science (Online)
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Your creativity is a big part of who you are and where you're going. To take it, and your future, as far as you want, you need an education that's focused on developing your talents and putting you on the path toward the creative career that stirs your imagination.

Programs:

  • Graphic Design (AS)
  • Graphic & Web Design (AA)
  • Game Art & Design (BFA)
  • And more...
Locations:  Durham