Computer Graphic Artist: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for computer graphic artists. Get the facts about the job outlook, salary, educational requirements and job responsibilities to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering 3D Animation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is A Computer Graphic Artist?

Computer graphic artists make designs used for a variety of visual mediums. They may use illustrations, photographs and animation. They combine their artistic talents and computer skills to produce visually appealing images. The material they create may be used on websites or in newspapers or magazines. During a project, they will meet with other project designers to discuss their ideas and then revise their proposals until the client is happy with the design plans. They use digital editing software to combine the different components of their images, and they may use this software to modify the images, colors and layer different elements. Graphic designers can work in studios or standard offices, and as of 2014, 20% were self-employed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Graphic design, fine arts or a similar field
Key Skills Designing and developing corporate logos, websites and marketing materials
Job Growth (2014-2024) 1% overall; 21% in computer systems design industry*
Average Salary (2015) $51,640*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Are the Educational Requirements?

In order to work as a graphic artist, you'll need a bachelor's degree in either fine arts or graphic design. You may also opt to complete a 2 or 3-year associate's degree graphic design program; however, be aware that you'll probably be starting out as an assistant to a graphic artist if you haven't earned a 4-year degree. Although, shorter educational programs may be ideal if you have a bachelor's degree in a different field, and are interested in receiving technical training as a computer graphic artist.

Any program you choose should include liberal arts courses in marketing, cultural studies, business, psychology, foreign language and sociology. Additionally, you'll study computer design, commercial graphics, drawing, composition, art appreciation, photography, animation and digital imaging. Courses in Web design and computer illustration may also be included in your curriculum.

What Job Duties Will I Have?

Your duties may include developing company logos or websites or creating and adjusting marketing layouts or designs according to your clients' needs. Most of your work will be done using computer graphics software programs. If you own your own computer graphics firm, you might also perform administrative duties and pursue new customers for your business.

What Advancement Opportunities Exist?

When you have worked for a number of years and have gained work experience, you may have the opportunity to advance into supervisory positions. With enough experience, you could start your own firm. If you'd like to teach computer graphics, you may find positions within universities or colleges, although most teaching positions will require at least a master's degree.

What Salary Can I Expect?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for computer graphic artists was anticipated to be slower than average, about 1% between 2014-2024. However, growth may vary greatly by industry, and graphic designers working in computer systems design could increase 21% during the same timeframe.

In 2015, the BLS reported that graphic designers earned an average salary of $51,640 nationally, while those in the specialized design industries, such as computer systems design, could earn a slightly higher average wage of $60,570.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Desktop publishers and multimedia artists and animators perform some of the same tasks as computer graphic artists. These professionals, like computer graphic artists, must know how to use editing software to manipulate images and produce images. Desktop publishers put components together that may be published in a book, magazine or online publication. Like computer graphic artists, they need to make sure the overall appearance is effective for their target audience. Multimedia artists and animators may make images and animation that could be used for video games, movies, television shows or commercials. They need artistic talent, and may combine their drawing skills with their computer skills to develop the final product. Desktop publishers need an associate's degree, while multimedia artists and animators need a bachelor's degree.

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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