If you are naturally creative and have an artistic flair, a career in graphic design could be a great choice for you. In fact, graphic design is one of the top 10 degree programs for creative people. In addition to their creative freedom and the opportunity to be their own bosses, graphic designers enjoy a higher than average median annual salary of $44,150, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. While a career as a graphic designer is a great opportunity, this occupation requires a college degree in a specific program of study.
Education in Graphic Design
To begin preparing for a career as a graphic designer, you will need a college degree – but not just any degree. Students should begin by earning a degree in graphic design specifically from one of the 323 programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Degree programs in graphic design typically include courses in art, commercial graphics production, computerized design, design principles, printing techniques, and website design, the BLS reported. Because the work of a graphic designer combines art with marketing and business, courses in these subject areas can also prove useful for aspiring graphic designers.
Prerequisites for undergraduate graphic design programs vary by school. For some programs, students must demonstrate their talents with sketches or other artwork when they apply for admission. Schools may even require students to complete a full year of college-level studio art before officially accepting them into the major.
The Importance of the Portfolio
As a creative job, graphic designers may not be able to secure a job – in-house or working with clients – based solely on their résumé. The biggest factor in attaining graphic design jobs is not the school the designer attended or the number of years of experience they have, but instead the quality of their work as illustrated by their professional portfolio. Because the portfolio is so important for success in this career, undergraduate graphic design degree programs are typically structured in ways that allow and encourage students to develop their portfolios. Sometimes these opportunities come from course assignments, while other times they take the form of internships.
For aspiring graphic designers, both the formal education and the opportunity to create a compelling professional portfolio are important parts of the education necessary for reaching their career goals. Most graphic designers pursue the career path due to a love of art and design, but there are other benefits to this job, as well. Nearly one-quarter of all graphic designers are self-employed, the BLS reported. They have the opportunity to enjoy the freedom of being their own bosses as well as setting their own schedule and even pay rate. Others work as part of a creative team in graphic design firms or in-house at companies and organizations. While achieving success as a graphic designer takes hard work, dedication and having the right education can get you on the right path.