Graphic Designer Education Requirements
Graphic designers conceptualize, develop, and bring into existence visual solutions to overcome problems in communications. Graphic design encompasses an exciting variety of electronic and print media, photography, animation, layout and use of color to effectively and efficiently communicate a concept or message to an audience. An inherent creative and artistic ability is the prerequisite requirement for graphic designer jobs.
Education Requirements for Graphic Designers: Prerequisites
Earning a degree in this field begins with taking the right coursework in high school. Completing subject areas that are foundational for a college education in graphic design can help the prospective college student succeed. High school graphic designer requirements may include the following types of classes:
- Geometry, algebra I and II
- Computer science and applications
- Web design and development
- Art appreciation and practical skills
The next step in graphic designer training is enrolling in a community college, university, private design school or online college. Some graphic designers have an Associate’s degree, but most employers prefer to hire those who have earned a Bachelor’s degree in graphic design.
Coursework from community and online colleges might apply towards a four-year degree. The transferability of credits should be verified prior to enrollment. Take the SAT, ACT, and other standardized tests to gain acceptance to an accredited graphic design program.
Schools accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design award a degree in graphic design. Some schools do not allow a student to enter a Bachelor’s program until he or she has completed a year of basic design and art coursework, much of which can and should be accomplished in high school.
Graphic Designer Education Requirements: Degrees and Coursework
College graphic design coursework depends on the specific school and degree requirements. There are general coursework requirements for most degree programs. These required classes often include:
- Principles of design, color theory and page layout
- Printing and digital techniques
- Psychology, sociology and personal communication
- Computerized design and web development
- Marketing and business
Graduates of Associate’s degree programs are usually limited to being assistants or technicians in graphic design under the supervision of graphic designers. Someone who has earned an Associate’s degree or a Bachelor’s degree in another field can complete a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design with an additional two to three years of study.
Graphic Design Portfolios
Most colleges provide the opportunity to develop a portfolio of original student work. The portfolio collection of designs by the student is overseen by a professor and remains the property of the student. Putting together a portfolio while in school can be beneficial as some employers review design portfolios to evaluate an applicant’s skills and abilities. Bachelor’s programs often include internships with graphic design employers to provide a hands-on learning experience to students and the opportunity to put theory into practice.
Professional development continues after landing a job in graphic design. Graphic designers are expected to keep abreast of new digital and computer technology, marketing trends and consumer preferences. Personal development within the field can be accomplished by enrolling in additional college courses or in personal reading and research.
Success in graphic design begins with recognizing the talent and desire to creatively communicate in print and digital media. The foundation for completing the necessary educational requirements begins with high school coursework that college-level classes build on. Enrolling in a graphic design program at an accredited college, university, private design school or online college and graduating with an effective portfolio completes the process.
Graphic Designer Careers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for graphic designers is expected to increase 7 percent nationally from 2012 to 2022, and add an additional 17,400 jobs in the process. As of May 2013, graphic designers enjoyed an annual mean wage of $44,830 nationally, with the top ten percent of designers earning $79,260 and the bottom ten percent bringing in $26,690.
Resources for Graphic Designers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Graphic Designers
- National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD)
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, “Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,” Graphic Designers, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/graphic-designers.htm#tab-1
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, “Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, May 2013,” Graphic Designers, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes271024.htm
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