Jobs for Visual Designers: Salary and Career Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you can pursue in visual design. Read on to learn more about education requirements, desired skills and qualifications, career options, potential salary and job outlook. Schools offering Communication Design & Interactive Media degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Visual Designer?

Professionals in the field of visual design blend graphic arts and communication techniques to enhance marketing materials, create product mock-ups and present information aesthetically. Visual designers most often find work in website design, magazines, newspapers and marketing agencies. They may work independently as freelancers, as designers for a design firm, or as in-house designers for a number of different industries. Regardless, they work closely with clients and coworkers to determine the vision for a prospective design and then do their best to make that vision come to life. If working in visual design appeals to you, read the below chart for further information.

Degree Required Associate's or bachelor's degree
Field of Study Visual communications, studio art, graphic design or related field
Key Skills Experience designing interfaces for websites or other digital media, excellence in computer design programs such as Photoshop, creative and innovative mindset, mastery of illustration, design and/or photography
Median Salary (2015)* $46,900 for all graphic designers
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 1% for all graphic designers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Do?

As a visual designer or visual communicator, you'll use fonts and create graphics to build images that are presented on billboards, television advertisements, the Internet, books, magazines and other forms of media. Visual design elements are also applied to interior and fashion design. As a visual designer, it's your goal to grab and keep peoples' attention with eye-catching and interesting designs.

What Educational Requirements Are There?

If you're thinking about going into the visual design business, consider completing an academic program in visual communications or graphic arts. You can pursue a 2-year or 4-year degree in these subjects. An associate's degree can prepare you for entry-level work and includes courses in art, drawing, photography and multimedia design. In addition to these courses, an associate's degree in visual communications might include courses in principles and applications of design concepts and marketing classes.

If you're interested in completing a bachelor's degree, you'll take many studio courses in art, photography and graphic presentation along with technology courses in digital imaging, interactive design and multimedia design. In a graphic design program, you can study several types of art, including ceramics, painting and sculpture. In a visual communications program, your curriculum could include visual literacy and rapid visualization. If you want to teach, you can continue your studies in a post-baccalaureate or master's degree program in visual communications or graphic arts with educational training.

Where Could I Work?

As a visual designer, you could work in many industries, including advertising, website design, television broadcasting or product design. You might choose to be self-employed, or you could work for a marketing agency, printer or publisher. You can opt to specialize solely in print or digital design, or you can work in both. Learning visual design techniques for a variety of multimedia platforms may give you more employment options.

What Might I Earn?

Your salary as a visual designer depends on your abilities and experience. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graphic designers in the U.S. made a median annual salary of $46,900 as of May 2015. Some of the top-paying industries for graphic designers were federal agencies and amusement parks (www.bls.gov).

What Is The Job Outlook?

The BLS states that the number of jobs for graphic designers is projected to grow 1% from 2014 to 2024, slower than the national average. This means that there will be stiff competition for those looking for a job in graphic design. While the demand for graphic designers is decreasing in traditional media like newspapers and magazines, the BLS predicts that their employment in computer systems design will grow 21% between 2014 and 2024, as more and more information moves online.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

With a bachelor's degree, you could also pursue a career as an art director for a company or organization. Art directors are responsible for the overall style and aesthetic of magazines, TV shows, movies, and products. They are instrumental in making decisions regarding color choice, layout, and the overall look of a product. With an associate's degree, you could become a desktop publisher. This job involves using software to create layouts for materials that are to be printed or published online, like newspapers, magazines, and books.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:

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  • The Art Institutes

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  • Penn Foster Career School

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  • General Assembly

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  • Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

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  • George Washington University

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    • Anywhere: Abbotsford, Calgary, Edmonton, Mississauga, Montreal, Point Claire, Surrey, Toronto, Winnipeg