Is a Graphic Design Degree Right for You?
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Graphic design degrees are tailored for creative and tech-savvy individuals. Ideal designers are those who want to learn effective techniques for making a visual impact on an audience. Individuals in a graphic design program learn about the art and business sides of graphic design, with courses often focusing on the software many graphic designers and other specialists use on the job. Students learn how to design effective websites, make good use of graphics in various publications and design an array of other materials.
Advice for Earning Your Graphic Design Degree Online
Online graphic design degrees are a viable alternative to traditional degrees. They provide the same classes as campus-based degrees while offering students the flexibility to complete course work on their own time. Before enrolling in an online program, prospective students should make sure that their school of choice is accredited. Because of the numerous degree mills that are present online, employers want to see that the education a potential employee received is credible. As a result, it is important to research the accreditation of every school of interest. Students should also research the organizations that granted the accreditation to make sure they have the support of the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Before students can take specialized graphic design classes, they must complete basic education requirements, such as English, math and science courses. Students can then move on to concentrating on graphic design with courses on color theory, fundamentals of design, concept development, history and analysis of design, digital image manipulation, graphic symbolism, mixed media and digital illustration packaging design. Students will also takes classes that prepare them for the business side of graphic design as they learn the skills necessary to create images for a variety of print and digital media.
Common Career Paths
Graphic designers are trained to work with a variety of media. As technology has advanced, graphic designers have been able to jump into technology-based fields. As a result, graphic designers have many career options. Common positions include (but are not limited to):
- Graphic Designers: These designers are responsible for coming up with a concept to communicate a message through graphics. Those graphics might include photography, typefaces, colors, shapes and text to make a strong impression on the viewer. Designers must be able to assess the needs of their clients, establish their primary audience and come up with an artistic concept to satisfy their clients. They have the opportunity to design graphics for newspapers, magazines, journals and newsletters. They can also work in brand design and development to come up with logos for new or existing businesses. Advertising is another popular field for graphic designers. Others may specialize in Web design and work exclusively in making corporate and business websites attractive and easy to use.
Employment of graphic designers is projected to grow 13 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their median annual salary was $43,500 in 2010.
- Advertising, Marketing, Promotions, Public Relations and Sales Managers: Graphic designers who find a solid niche in advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations or sales may choose to move up into a management position, where they can direct projects. Managers within these fields typically conduct market research and develop sales strategies. Advertising managers are responsible for directing campaigns for clients, which includes oversight of the creative team that develops the concepts. Promotions managers oversee the creative team involved in coming up with newspaper inserts and product endorsements. Public relations managers oversee a team dedicated to promoting the images of their clients, including the graphic design of any publications that are produced.
Employment of advertising, promotions and marketing managers is expected to increase 14 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their median annual salary was $108,260 in 2010.
- Photographers: A background in graphic design is very helpful for those who wish to become professional photographers. Graphic design classes help students become familiar with the software used in creating websites as well as that used for editing photos. Photographers often specialize in certain types, such as nature, portrait, fashion, news or commercial. Others concentrate on events such as weddings or parties.
Employment of photographers is forecast to expand 13 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their median salary was $29,130 in 2010.