Graphic Design Degrees

Advantages To Earning A Graphic Design Degree

A graphic design degree prepares students to plan, analyze, and create visual images used within the field of communications. Graphic designers and graphic artists use color, illustration, text, photography, animation, layout, and print techniques to convey messages within magazines, newspapers, journals, websites, and other publications. Graphic designers use specialized computer software and hand drawing to produce sketches and layouts and add visual elements like color, artwork, photography, and artwork as well as sound and animation to complete their creations.

Designers often confer with copywriters regarding different textual elements in their projects and then present the completed charts, graphs, and other works for approval from clients or art/creative directors. Graphic designers produce promotional materials, advertisements, marketing brochures, displays, signage, and logos (known as environmental graphics) for businesses, products, government, and services. Graphic designers also create multimedia projects and multimedia projects for use on the internet as well as the beginning and end credits within television shows and films. Graphic design programs provide students with fundamental knowledge regarding art and design as well as technological, communication, and business knowledge necessary for employment within many career fields.

Many colleges and universities have developed innovative online degree programs to meet the educational demands of students managing work and family obligations while completing a degree. Online programs generally consist of the same educational experiences and instruction as their traditional, on campus counterparts with the added benefits of flexible course scheduling and 24 hour access to class materials. Online classes provide students with a more personalized education and one on one interactions with professors, instructors, and other students. Online degrees are often one of the most affordable and convenient paths to future personal and professional success.

What Students Learn Within Graphic Design Degree Programs

Students enrolled within a graphic design degree program gain a well rounded educational experience based upon liberal arts, studio art, business, technology, and design. Entry level graphic designers and artists are generally required to complete a formal bachelor degree program before qualifying for employment. Some students gain entry level employment upon completion of an associate degree.

Courses at an associate level include: graphic design orientation, introduction to computer art, introduction to color, color theory, introduction to graphic design, advertising design, computer literacy, graphics design and production, English composition, art appreciation, information literacy, photo image editing, business and technical writing, mathematical applications, typography, essentials of psychology, electronic publishing: InDesign, electronic publishing projects, corporate design, HTML coding, web graphic arts design, introduction to Internet multimedia, streaming technology, multimedia development, animation, and portfolio development. Associate degree graduates in the field of graphic design may gain employment or advance to higher degree programs.

Bachelor and masters level courses involve classes like: drawing, color theory, fundamentals of design, perspective, photography, introduction to Web design, life drawing, concept development, typography, history and analysis of design, digital image manipulation, graphic symbolism, introduction to design applications, mixed media, advanced typography, electronic design, design principles, digital illustration, corporate identity, dimensional design, art direction, design and technology, graphic illustration, intermediate illustration, contemporary typography, packaging design, web scripting, editorial illustration, advertising design, information graphics, communication design, painting, advanced life drawing, advanced computer graphics, airbrush basics, airbrush techniques, environmental graphics, design studio, basic web animation, experimental typography, contemporary design issues, dynamic digital illustration, history of art in early civilization, survey of modern and contemporary art, economics, advanced communications, composition and language, history of typography, poster typography, college mathematics, corporate branding, package design, logo design, print and editorial design, visual literacy, imagemaking, advanced multimedia, motion graphics, style and rhetoric, web design and applications software applications, research methods and documentation, portfolio preparation for graphic design, and interactive portfolio design.

Graduates who complete a master’s degree program in graphic arts are qualified as experts within the field and may advance to various upper level positions. Some graduates pursue a doctoral degree to qualify for teaching positions within colleges and universities. Doctoral degrees within graphic design are not common and difficult to find though they do exist. Doctoral students complete studies in design and communications with courses in: research paradigms, research methods, philosophy of statistics, colloquium in design, supervised research, color science and reproduction, graphic communications trends, inks and printing methods, image processing, management in graphic communications, and marketing and advertising. Graduates from doctoral degree programs generally advance to employment upon completion of their degree.

Prospective Jobs For Graphic Design Degree Graduates

Graphic design is a growing field offering numerous career opportunities for qualified professionals. The U.S. Bureau of Labor And Statistics expects employment of graphic designers to increase by 13 percent at an average rate in comparison to other occupations through 2018. Graduates who specialize training within web design, animation, marketing and interactive media are predicted to find increased employability. Competition for graphic design jobs is expected to remain consistently high though many graduates find employment within alternative fields. Graduates who complete an associate’s degree in graphic design generally qualify for positions as assistant graphic designers, assistant web designer, assistant graphic artists, junior production artists, and sometimes illustrators.

Graduates with bachelor degrees in graphic design generally work as graphic artists, graphic designers, graphic communication specialists, art directors, illustrators, interface designers, motion graphics artists, multimedia artists, and storyboard artists. Some graduates with liberal arts backgrounds within marketing and business management disciplines work as communication specialists, advertising executives, graphic communications managers, marketers, and website designers. Graduates who complete master’s or doctoral degrees often gain employment as upper level executives, freelance graphic designers, researchers, or instructors within colleges and universities.

Salaries For Graphic Design Degree Graduates

Earnings for graduates with graphic design degrees vary according to level of education, work experience, reputation, area of specialty, organization of employment and geographic location. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports median salaries for graphic designers ranges from $32,600 to $56,620 annually. Entry level designers generally earn $35,000 annually while professionals who specialize design services earn $45,970 annually. Graduates who work within advertising public relations, and printed publications generally earn $36,000 annually. Entry level designers generally work one to three years before establishing a reputation and gaining skills necessary for promotions. Senior designers generally earn $60,000 annually upon completing educational programs and gaining work experience. Upper level design directors who work as executives within design firms or larger in-house design corporations generally have earnings based at $95,000 annually.

Career Outlook and Advancement Opportunities For Graphic Design Degree Graduates

Graphic design degrees provide graduates with the knowledge and skills essential to create long term career success in a variety of occupations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts employment for graphic design graduates to grow a by 13 percent at an average rate in comparison to other occupations through 2018. Qualified graduates from design degree programs are anticipated to face heavy competition, due to the number of candidates in relation to the number of available positions. Graduates who specialize their education and training within web and design animations may find increased employability as the demand in both areas is expected to increase significantly. Additionally, graduates who complete formal degree programs, gain hands on experience through internships, and who distinguish their work with creativity, style, and reputation often find the most plentiful employment prospects and advancement opportunities.

Many graphic degree graduates begin work as entry level designers, gain one to three years of work experience, and advance to jobs with greater responsibilities and higher salaries. Many experienced graphic designers who work within large firms, businesses, corporations, and publishers are promoted to supervisory positions as chief designers and art or creative directors. Graduates with advanced degrees often gain work experience and go on to instructor positions within colleges, universities, and design schools. Many instructors with advanced degrees work also work as private consultants in small design studios. Some designers advance to self operated design firms upon gaining relevant training, experience, and funding. Designers who work as freelance or private consultants face the expense of updating communications and computer equipment in order to remain competitive within the field while developing new clients and performing operational tasks of their business. As with most design degrees, graduates who distinguish their work with style and creativity, adapt to changing technology and industry standards, and constantly refine their skills build rewarding careers within graphic design.

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