How Do I Become a Computer Graphics Designer?

Computer graphics designers use software to combine images, text and layout to create eye-catching visual media. Read on to learn more about how to start a career in computer graphics design, where you could work and the income you could make. Schools offering 3D Animation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Computer Graphics Designer Do?

Computer graphics designers create images through the use of animation, type, photography and illustration. Most of these images are created through the use of computer software and technology, requiring designers to have an advanced knowledge of commonly used tools and programs. Computer graphics designers generally work creating projects for others, meaning that they need to have good communication between themselves and the client. Their customers may include magazines, advertising companies, and corporations. These professionals need to be creative, artistically trained, adept at managing their time and thoroughly computer-literate.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Required Graphic arts, multimedia and digital design
Key Responsibilities Design marketable graphics using advanced computer software
Licensure Requirements None
Job Growth (2014-2024) 1%*
Median Salary (2015) $46,900*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Educational Programs Are Available?

You'll typically need a bachelor's degree in graphic design if you're interested in an entry-level position in the field. You might also consider 4-year programs in Web design, studio art or commercial graphic production. While enrolled in a bachelor's degree program in graphic design, you'll learn the basics of color theory, design, typography, 2-D design, 3-D design, computer graphics, pre-media and contemporary art.

Some schools also offer associate's degree and master's degree programs in graphic design. If you graduate from an associate's degree program you will most likely qualify to work as an assistant, which can be a good way to get started in the industry. If you earn a master's degree, you might be eligible for managerial positions in a graphic design firm.

Where Can I Find Work?

If you aspire to work as a graphic designer, you can find job opportunities in a variety of industries. For example, you might work for a publishing company to design the graphics seen on the pages of magazines, newspapers or books. You might also work to develop graphics for use on websites.

As a graphic designer, you might also find work designing product packages, logos and promotional items for a variety of businesses or manufacturing firms. These companies might hire you on a freelance basis, or they might give you a staff position if they have need of a full-time graphic designer.

What Salary Can I Expect to Earn?

Almost 205,000 graphic designers worked in the United States in 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported (www.bls.gov). Be aware, however, that only about 9,210 of these professionals worked for computer systems design companies. Others worked for specialized design services, newspaper and magazine publishers, advertising companies or public relations firms. The median annual salary in the field in 2015 was about $46,900 (www.bls.gov).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are a wide range of careers within the technology and art industries that may appeal to those interested in becoming computer graphics designers. One very similar option is to become an art director and oversee all visual aspects of a film, magazine layout, advertisement or other form of visual media. Art directors need to be educated at the bachelor's degree level and have a strong creative vision. If you like creating digital images, you may want to consider becoming a multimedia artist or animator. These positions require you to create animations and visual effects for television and films, and also require you to hold 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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