How to Become a Graphic Designer or Artist
Entering into a career as a graphic designer can lead to as many employment possibilities as there are products and services to buy. But the budding designer needs to be forewarned that entering the graphic design field should not be done because one likes to draws and doesn’t want a regular business type job. Graphic design is a serious business that not only requires creative abilities that makes the design profession so exciting but also requires business skills, marketing comprehension, interpersonal communication abilities, profit, loss and budgeting skills, advanced computer and technology proficiencies and the ability to take very personal, artistic creations and tailor them to the business and marketing need of others.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits about 300 postsecondary colleges, universities, and independent institutes with programs in art and design. Like many degrees today, programs are available through colleges and universities both in classroom and online and there are a host of technical institutes and graphic design schools that offer degree programs as well.
Do you need a Bachelor’s degree
For the most part, a four year Bachelor’s degree is required for most graphic designer positions though there are some two year Associate degree programs available. A quick look through some of the top employment sites will show that most graphic designer positions being hired today require the four year degree. Getting started with an Associate’s degree and working to gain experience can lead to a successful career but may take longer and the entry salary ranges are lower.
Some colleges and universities offer Bachelor of Arts programs and others Bachelor of Science programs. In many cases, the university may decree whether a graphic designer degree is a Bachelor’s of Science or Arts, some may offer a choice. What usually differs between these two types of degree programs is not the core classes for graphic design but the foundation classes that round out the education. A Bachelor of Arts degree is likely to have more requirements in humanities fields such as languages, sociology, film and literature. A Bachelor of Science degree will have a more science oriented curriculum with courses in areas such as mathematics, computers, statistics and economics.
Core Graphic Designs Areas
The core areas of study for a graphic designer’s degree are art, design, computer design, print techniques, web design and commercial graphics production. Writing, marketing and business are also areas that are generally covered. Graphic design careers can also branch out into specialty areas such as advertising, graphic animation, multimedia and visual communication. So a budding designer may want to tailor some of the course work to any specialty areas that may be of interest.
While being able to draw is certainly an ability that will aid a graphic designer, it is not essential. With the advancement of technology, there are many career options for a graphic designer that are done completely with technology. Film animation and video game design are great examples of graphic artist careers that are almost entirely technology based. Mostly it’s having that creative flair that is essential for a graphic designer, the other skills needed, can be learned.
Graphic designers with 10+ years of experience can expect career opportunities in positions such as Creative Director or Art Director. Since these are typically management positions, a Master’s degree either in business or marketing may help pave the way for this type of long term career advancement.
The demand for graphic designers is projected to continue to increase. Graphic design jobs overall are projected to grow 13% by 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics but computer related graphic design jobs are projected to grow 61%. Designers preparing to enter this field should bear this in mind as they select programs and courses. Curriculum that has a heavier focus on computer animation, web design and mobile platform design will better prepare a graphic designer to enter today’s workforce. A graphic designer will also need to plan for keeping up their technology skills as newer versions of software and devices are developed.
Aside from technology and computers, the next largest industry for graphic designers is advertising and marketing. Curriculum from communication programs that teach the strength and weakness of the different media and the creative considerations of each are also good avenues to explore while earning a graphic designer degree as well.
Becoming a graphic designer can be an exciting field, especially for those who have truly show that created flair since working with crayons and finger paints. The freedom of expression and opportunity to create the next “big idea”, think Matrix special effects here, are certainly unique to this field. However, a graphic designer also needs a strong business and communication foundation to not just survive but flourish in today’s competitive workforce.