How Can I Become a Computer Graphics Specialist?

Research what it takes to become a computer graphics specialist. Find out the types of jobs you could pursue as well as the education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering 3D Animation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is A Computer Graphics Specialist?

A computer graphics specialist is someone who combines artistic and computer design skills to produce graphics. Their work involves combining art elements, such as hand-drawn images and photographs, with material produced using a computer design program. The finished products can be used in movies, commercials, television shows or on posters, billboards and other printed materials. Computer graphics specialists may also be known as graphic artists or multimedia artists and animators.

Graphic Designers Multimedia Artists and Animators
Degree Required Associate's degree; bachelor's degree preferred Associate's degree; bachelor's degree preferred
Education Field of Study Graphic design
Multimedia art
Computer graphics
Animation
Computer graphics
Graphic design
Multimedia art
Key Skills Creativity, self-motivation, computer skills Computer skills, creativity, artistic ability
Job Growth (2014-2024) 1%* 6%*
Average Salary (2015) $51,640* $70,300*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Types of Computer Graphics Specialist Programs Are Available?

You can choose among certificate, associate's degree, bachelor's degree and master's degree programs in computer graphics or computer graphics technology. All these programs can help you acquire practical technical skills in the use of graphics software and develop your aesthetic style and sensibility, although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that employers generally prefer to hire bachelor's degree holders (www.bls.gov). Course topics may include visual communication principles, 2-D and 3-D design, 2-D and 3-D animation, 3-D modeling, motion graphics and art history.

What Job Duties Will I Have?

You'll design and create graphical presentations using image-processing software. Depending on your area of focus, these may range from print designs to animated films. The process of creating graphics can include consulting with clients about their needs, creating 2-D and 3-D models from scratch, submitting design concepts for approval and translating hand-drawn sketches to digital form. You may also need to integrate graphics with audio, website code or raw video footage. As technology develops, you'll need to learn to use new software and graphics tools.

What Kinds of Jobs Are Available?

Potential clients for your services include schools, TV and film studios, scientists, medical professionals, advertisers and video game producers. Even manufacturing and construction firms may need your talents. The types of projects you might work on include Web pages, animations, videos and animated maps.

A computer graphics specialist can fit into several career categories, such as graphic designer, multimedia artist and animator. According to the BLS, approximately 261,600 graphic designers and 64,400 multimedia artists and animators were employed in the U.S. in 2014. The BLS predicted employment of graphic designers would increase 1% between 2014 and 2024, with particular need for those who can work with various types of media. Likewise, the BLS expected increased demand for multimedia artists to work on the latest films, video games and mobile technology.

What Salary Could I Earn?

Your potential salary will vary depending on your specific job title. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May 2015 that multimedia artists and animators earned an average yearly salary of $70,300. Graphic designers in the same period earned $51,640.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Desktop publishers as well as craft and fine artists have elements of their work that are similar to that of computer graphic specialists. Desktop publishers use computer software to combine text, photos, artwork and other materials to create a visually appealing look for websites, magazines, newspapers and other published materials. Like computer graphic specialists, they must know how to use editing software and have a good artistic eye. Desktop publishers need an associate's degree. Craft and fine artists produce work intended either for sale or exhibition. They do not need a bachelor's degree, although postsecondary studies are recommended because they provides an opportunity to develop artistic skills and a portfolio.

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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