Graphic Design Majors: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a graphic designer. Learn about graphic design majors, job duties and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Graphic Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Graphic Design Major?

A graphic design major focuses on the field of graphic design while completing their undergraduate degree. During their studies they may learn about design principles, computerize design, printing techniques, commercial graphics production, website design and studio art. They may also take courses in business, marketing and writing because they are helpful for professional graphic designers.

Graphic design majors often pursue a career as a graphic designer. Graphic designers design by hand or by computer. They make visual concepts. They might create a logo or image that is meant to communicate a specific principle or concept to an intended audience. Graphic designers typically work in studios. They use drafting tables. Graphic designers may work independently or collaborate with a team.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Graphic design or a related field
Program Options B.A., B.S., B.F.A.
Key Responsibilities Create layouts, design illustrative copy, develop negatives
Job Growth (2014-2024) 1% (graphic designers)*
Average Salary (2015) $51,640 (graphic designers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Graphic Design Majors Are Available to Me?

Students interested in graphic design majors have the option of pursuing a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in Graphic Design. Programs range from 120-180 credit hours and can generally be completed in four years. Typical courses for graphic design majors include drawing, typography, art history, vector graphics, photography, printmaking and 3-D design. You can expect to spend time in art and design studios, working on projects and building a required portfolio.

A B.S. and B.A. program in graphic design often have similar requirements, but a B.F.A. program may have more studio requirements and a more selective application process. You may also be required to complete internships for practical experience. These degree programs may be available online or in the traditional classroom setting.

What Might My Career Duties Be?

Whether in print or digital media, graphic designers create illustrative copy and layouts based on discussion with clients and knowledge of layout and design principles. These professionals may also create archives of their work, develop negatives for photographs and use cameras and other means to provide information to clients regarding project layout and design. You might work for a company as an in-house graphic designer or you might work for a graphic design firm; you might also supplement your income with freelance graphic design work or start your own company.

What Might My Salary Be?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 204,850 individuals employed as graphic designers as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). During this year, they reported an average annual wage of $51,640. Salary can vary significantly based on location and experience, as well as the type of company you work for.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Art directors, craft and fine artists and multimedia artists and animators all work in the same general field as graphic designers. They usually need a bachelor's degree to prepare for their career; craft and fine artists may be able to pursue a career based on their talent, but postsecondary studies can help them hone their craft and develop a portfolio. Art directors focus on the visual look of books, magazines and other printed materials. Craft and fine artists include sketch artists and painters, who may create visual images intended to convey concepts to viewers. Multimedia artists and animators use their artistic and computer skills to generate images that can be used in commercials, video games and films.

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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