What Can I Do With A Degree In Graphic Design?

Are you creative and tech-savvy? Do you like collaborating with teams? If so, you may want to explore the field of graphic design. As a graphic designer, you may have opportunities to communicate your message through an array of media, including:

  • Comics
  • Candy wrappers
  • Ads on city buses
  • Online videos
  • TV commercials
  • Billboards
  • Posters
  • Company logos

The many options for learning about graphic design include associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in graphic design. Some PhD programs exist, although they are less common. If you are currently working or have family obligations that keep you from a full-time campus program, you can still earn an online graphic design degree. Make sure to enroll in an accredited program and one that is designed to give you a good balance of theory and hands-on experience. Studies could include web design, photography, typography, illustration or studio art. Design professionals usually rely on computer software applications, so your education program will typically blend art and technology. Related majors include digital arts, commercial design and advertising art.

Careers with a graphic design degree

Graphic design impacts many aspects of our visual world from print publications to websites to signage — and career opportunities can be equally diverse. With the right skills, graphic design majors can seek opportunities doing work in:

  • Web publishing
  • Marketing and promotions
  • Corporate communications
  • Advertising

An online graphic design degree can also open up opportunities in other specializations such as:

  • Print publications
  • Online marketing
  • Entertainment

What do graphic designers do?

These artistic professionals create carefully tailored messages using images, color, shape, typeface, size and other elements designed to elicit a particular response in viewers. Designers use their full arsenal of artistic tricks and technical tools to create visual effects for a wide range of industries, organizations and clients.

How much do graphic designers make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2016, graphic designers made an annual median salary of $47,640. If you have a degree and become a professional in the field, the top 10 percent of graphic designers can make more than $82,000 yearly.

According to the BLS, the following states have the highest annual mean wage:

  • Washington D.C.: $69,490
  • New York: $62,750
  • California: $59,210
  • Maryland: $58,590
  • Massachusetts: $58,210

Overall, the BLS reports that between 2016 and 2026, the need for graphic designers is projected to grow approximately 5 percent – lower than the national average -so there may be stiff competition for graphic design careers. However, obtaining a degree and finding valuable experience can be helpful steps to take toprepare you for this competitive field.

  • “How do design programs differ?” American Institute of Graphics Arts (AIGA), 2017, http://www.aiga.org/guide-designprogramsdiffer/
  • Graphic Designers, Occupational Employment and Wages 2016, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes271024.htm
  • Graphic Designers, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2016, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Arts-and-Design/Graphic-designers.htm


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