Graphic Communications Careers

Find out about the type of jobs you can pursue in graphic communications. Read on to learn about the career options along with salary and job outlook information. Schools offering Communication Design & Interactive Media degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Careers Are Available in Graphics Communications?

A career in graphic communications blends art and technology with business. The field is full of opportunities in areas such as art, animation, web, commercials, film and video. Graphic designers use computer software programs to design, create or layout artwork for pamphlets, reports, magazines or other advertising clients. Animators also use selected software to create motion visual effects for film, television or the web. Web developers create web pages for clients or companies. They are responsible for everything from the technical aspects to the actual artistic designs and/or animation. The table below provides a general overview about this field.

Graphic Designer 3-D Animator Web Developer
Degree Required Bachelor's Degree Bachelor's degree Associate's, Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Image creation and manipulation Computer graphics Web design
Key Responsibilities Work with print, images, and digital media Create animation for various media types Create and design websites
Job Growth (2014-2024) 1%* 6% for all multimedia artists and animators* 27%*
Average Salary (2015) $51,640* $70,300 for multimedia artists and animators* $70,660*

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

What Is Graphic Communications?

The field of graphic communications is not new, but has commonly been referred to as commercial art or graphic design. Regardless of the title of your job, in this profession, you'll use visual and sound imagery to express something - information, an idea, even emotions - to a target audience through print or electronic graphical media. The process includes design, production and distribution. Some examples of the platforms graphic communications is used include:

  • TV commercials
  • Interactive entertainment
  • Product packaging
  • Magazines
  • Corporate presentations
  • Websites

What Skills Do I Need to Work in Graphic Communications?

With the continuous development of technology and electronics, graphic communications is rapidly evolving. To be viable in the profession, you'd ideally have a breadth of skills that includes both traditional printing and newer digital techniques. You'd also be well served by having experience in business management and organization, including pricing, accounting, marketing, sales and communications.

How Do I Learn Graphic Communications?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), to get a job in the graphic communications industry you'll usually need a bachelor's degree, though you could qualify for assistant jobs and creative positions at advertising agencies with an associate degree in a computer graphics field (www.bls.gov). Some companies allow you to learn on the job for an entry-level position and advance with experience. Several community colleges, technical schools and 4-year universities offer degree programs in graphic communications that cover basic computer and Web design and introduce you to imaging and photo manipulation software used in the industry.

What Jobs Are Related to Graphic Communications?

Specialty jobs for every phase of the graphic communications process exist, including both its creative and business aspects. If you enjoy the hands-on work, consider a job as a graphic designer, production artist, 3-D animator, imaging specialist or Web developer. If you're good at organization and working with people, you might enjoy becoming a magazine editor, design director or project manager. Advertising and promotion managers, print buyers and customer service representatives are all business-related jobs associated with graphic communications.

Industries that employ graphic communications specialists include publishing and printing companies, advertising agencies, packaging development firms and website design organizations. You could also consider working in television or film, computer gaming, newspapers or the music industry.

What Could I Earn?

Salaries vary based on your position, employer and experience level. In May 2015, graphic designers earned a median annual wage of $46,900, as reported by the BLS. The average salary for graphic designers for the same time period was $51,640. Some of the industries with the highest compensation included the federal government; aerospace production and manufacturing; and transportation equipment manufacturing, with average salaries ranging from $66,440-$78,200.

If your interest lies more in management, the BLS also stated the median annual wage was $128,750 for marketing managers, $95,890 for advertising and promotions managers and $113,860 for sales managers during the same period. The BLS reported the average salaries in May 2015 was $70,300 for all multimedia artists and animators, and $70,660 for web developers. The same source reported the projected job growth for 2014-2024 for graphic designers is 1% and multimedia and animators is 6%. The projected job growth for web developers for the same period was much higher at 27%.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Given the scope of careers in graphic communications, there are yet more creative and technical options to consider. You will need a bachelor's degree to be a computer programmer or art director. Art directors work in media outlets like film and television, digital video, magazines, or newspapers. Their work entails the creation of digital art, layouts and animation. Computer programmers understand, write and create code. They test software and programs, or create client instructions on how to use certain programs.

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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