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How Do I Become an Interactive Media Designer?

Interactive media includes things like websites, video games, informational kiosks, and even the animated menus on DVDs. Explore the varied careers and job duties in interactive media design, and learn what degree program you could pursue to enter this field. Find out how much interactive media designers typically earn annually.

What Is an Interactive Media Designer?

Interactive media designers work with a variety of digital formats, creating media to be both engaging and interactive in some form. You will need a high degree of computer knowledge to perform this job, as well as artistic and design skill. Job prospects exist most frequently in the entertainment industry, which usually entails working on websites for companies, menus for DVDs, and many aspects of video games involving user interface. The table below provides some additional details about this career:

Craft and Fine ArtistsGraphic DesignersMultimedia Artists and Animators
Degree Required None, but many earn a bachelor's or master's Bachelor's Bachelor's
Education Field of Study Fine ArtsGraphic DesignComputer Graphics, Animation
Key Responsibilities Paint, sculpt, draw, or use other artistic techniques; create portfolios, display works at a show or galleryUse software to create graphics for print or web purposesUse software and computer programs to create animation for TV shows, movies, and games
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 1% growth (for all craft and fine artists) 3% growth 4% growth
Median Salary (2018)* $49,380 (for fine artists) $50,370 $72,520

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Types of Programs in Interactive Media Design (IMD) are Available?

Most programs are offered at the bachelor's degree level, although you can find associate's degree, post-baccalaureate certificate, and master's degree programs as well. IMD programs teach you how to combine graphics, sound, text, and video into a structured presentation that allows people to work with or manipulate its content, usually via a computer, digital TV, or handheld device. Some programs allow you to specialize in such areas as image design, sound design, Web design, or marketing. Courses include some theory but are mostly oriented towards hands-on production work.

Where Do Professionals Work?

Game companies, advertising agencies, publishers, film production companies, web design firms, law firms, and corporate communications departments are among your potential employers as an interactive media designer. Related or alternative career titles might include advertising designer, multimedia instructional designer, Web designer, or animator. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provided career projections for categories that encompass the skills of interactive media designers. In 2018, the BLS predicted employment of craft and fine artists would grow about 1%, employment of graphic designers would grow 3%, and employment of multimedia artists and animators would grow 4% from 2018-2028.

What Will My Job Duties Entail?

You duties depend on the industry employing your services. In video games, you may creating scenery, graphics, characters, and narrative. For tourism companies, museums, or trade shows, you might design informational kiosks. For TV or film productions, you would create motion graphics or animated sequences on DVDs or other distribution media. As a Web designer, you would create dynamic Web pages. The common thread in each instance is that you will need to manage the design process and make design decisions based on the perspective of users.

What Can I Expect to Earn?

The salary of an interactive designer typically between $40,000 and $86,000, according to PayScale.com as of November 2019. However, as a new worker with less than a year of experience, you would most likely make less; most entry-level workers reported salaries of $30,000 to $57,000 to PayScale.com in 2019. For closely related careers, typical salaries ranged from $34,000 to $74,000 for Web designers, $35,000 to $78,000 for multimedia animators, and $42,000 to $88,000 for multimedia instructional designers.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Fashion design is another artistic profession involving the use of different color and design theories to make aesthetically appealing clothing. Depending on the designer and the intent of the work, fashion may be used as a means of conveying a message or as an interactive art piece. Art directors manage other artists in creating a unified style and look to an art project. These professionals can be integral to interactive media in entertainment, ensuring a cohesive image for a film or game that is pleasing to look at without elements that distract from or clash with the main focus. Computer programmers write and edit code that instructs different computer applications on how to function, an integral skill to media designers working digitally. All of these professionals must have a bachelor's degree.