Careers in Computer Graphics

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in computer graphics. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and education information. Schools offering 3D Animation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Computer Graphics Designer Do?

Computer graphics careers could involve designing software programs, advertisements, video games, and special effects for websites, print media or television shows and movies. Designers work with computers and a variety of software to create art, effects and/or animation for these industries. Many have coding skills that allow them to create fresh web pages for businesses or other clients. These same abilities help in rendering film, sound and effects into a seamless product. With training in graphic design, some computer graphics artists work in advertising, computer gaming or film and television. A computer graphics designer may also create original animation for internet websites, television commercials or video games.

Look through the following chart to learn more about the different career options, education programs and salary figures.

Graphic Designer Web Developer Animator
Degree Required Associate's or bachelor's degree Associate's or bachelor's degree Associate's or bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Graphic arts Computer science
Information systems
Web design
Animation
Graphic design
Key Skills Creativity, patience, tech savvy Computer savvy, creativity, detail-oriented nature Creativity, artistic talent, communication skills
Job Growth (2014-2024) 1%* 27%* 6%*
Median Salary (2015) $46,900* $64,970* $63,970*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Jobs Could I Get in Computer Graphics?

As a graphics designer in advertising, you could use graphics software programs to create print, Web and television ads, brochures, posters and other promotional materials. Jobs as software engineers require you to create computer graphic software programs used by artists, engineers and architects. You might design medical imaging software, animation and modeling software, or software that aids in home and building construction.

In the video game industry, you could work as an animator, illustrator or background artist. In the television and motion picture industries, opportunities are available to create animated characters and special effects. Web developers create Web pages, interactive games, Web applications and Internet ads.

What Degree Programs Are Available?

Education and training at the undergraduate level are available in associate's degree programs in computer graphics and bachelor's degree programs in computer science. An associate's degree program focuses on the various aspects of computer graphics and teaches students about graphic design software programs, animation graphics, interactive media and modeling. A bachelor's degree program educates you about Web and software development, programming and multimedia. A computer science degree program is a good option if you're interested in Web development or game design.

If you're interested in being a computer graphics software developer, you could enroll in a bachelor's degree program in software engineering, which focuses on the design and development of software systems. You could study programming, algorithms, software project management, data analysis and more. Many schools also offer master's degrees in computer science and software engineering. Master's degree programs are more research oriented than bachelor's degree programs and generally culminate in a graduate thesis project.

How Much Do Professionals Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2015, the salary range of graphic designers in the 25th-75th percentile was $35,170-$62,650, and Web developers earned $46,600-$89,430. In the same year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that multimedia artists and animators earned a median salary of $63,970 (www.bls.gov).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you have artistic talents but don't want to work on a computer, you could become a craft or fine artist. You have the option of working with a wide variety of materials and techniques, such glass blowing, painting or sculpture. Computer programmers use coding skills to create the programs that graphic artists, animators and web developers use to create their visuals. Industrial designers plan and draft ideas for a variety of consumer products, from toys to cars. You'll need a bachelor's degree for any one of these careers, though the relevant majors vary.

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:

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