Digital Media Majors: Salary and Career Facts

Digital media professionals create animations and computer-generated effects for films, games, websites and other related media. Read on to learn about the career options, education, employment outlook and salary potential associated with this cutting-edge field. Schools offering Animation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Digital Media Specialist Do?

Digital media specialists include careers such as graphic designers and multimedia artists. These professionals artistically portray information through print advertisements, digital images, film, and/or animated video. Most digital media specialists need a bachelor's degree in digital media. A closer look at these digital media careers can be found in the table below:

Graphic Designer Multimedia Artist
Degree Required Bachelor's Bachelor's
Key Skills Creativity, communication and computer skills Communication, computer, video creativity, and visual art skills
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 1% 6% (for multimedia artists and animators)
Median Salary (2015)* $46,900 $63,970 (for multimedia artists and animators)

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

What Jobs Can I Qualify for with a Bachelor's Degree in Digital Media?

A bachelor's degree in digital media gives you several career options in different industries. Digital media majors often work in the motion picture and video industries to create special effects, visual images and audio. You may also work for computer software companies and make web sites, animations or video game designs. Others find work in the government or education industries. Common employers include advertising agencies, animation firms, graphic design studios, newspapers, magazines, museums and interactive media design firms.

Your skills will enable you to hold various types of positions within these companies, according to your interests and career goals. Some of the job titles you could qualify for include game designer, animator, sound producer, digital illustrator, graphic designer, animation engineer, presentation artist and art director. If you're interested in education, you may create multimedia learning tools for students or pursue a teaching position at a trade or technical school. In government, your job might entail creating 3-dimensional imagery and animation for military purposes. New job titles also emerge as the digital media field expands with new technology.

What Do I Need in Addition to My Degree?

Developing a strong portfolio that demonstrates a variety of your best work is important when beginning your career. Your portfolio can include samples of work from your degree program as well as from an internship or work-study program. You may also consider obtaining certification in a computer software program that is commonly used in the industry, such as Adobe Flash or Photoshop. Certification is a good way to enhance your skills and expertise in a particular area of digital media. Continuing education is also important to stay current on new technologies, maintain clients and advance within the industry.

What Is the Job Outlook like?

Individuals in digital media should face strong job competition due to the popularity of the field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for multimedia artists and animators is expected to rise 6% over the period 2014-2024, which is close to the average for all industries. An increasing demand for multimedia artwork is expected to drive job growth, such as for 3-dimensional videos, advanced special effects and more sophisticated video games. Expanding mobile technologies will also contribute to job growth.

How Much Can I Expect to Earn?

Your salary will vary according to your level of experience, type of work and industry. The BLS reports that the median annual wages of multimedia artists and animators were $63,970 in May 2015. In addition, the median annual wage of graphic designers was $46,900, also in May 2015. Multimedia artists working in technical and trade schools, as well as in the motion picture and video industries, earned the highest salaries. Larger companies and firms typically offer benefits that can include profit sharing in addition to base salaries. Many film production companies and television networks require employees to be hired under union contracts, although nonunion workers may be hired short term or for special needs.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Art directors may oversee artistic projects in publishing, advertising, and movie production. They decide the best medium for a particular project and coordinate the project between different artistic departments. While these professionals may only need a bachelor's degree, they usually have significant prior work experience. Computer programmers create the code for the more technical aspects of digital projects. They design the programming which allows display of the text and images created by graphic designers and multimedia specialists. A bachelor's degree is the common academic requirement for computer programmers.

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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