What Can I Do with an Undergraduate Degree in Design?

An undergraduate degree in design can prepare you for a variety of careers in all types of design, including advertising and interior decorating. Read on to learn about some of the job options available to design majors, including graphic designer, interior designer and multimedia artist. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Degree Program Overview

While some schools offer general design undergraduate degree programs, specific design degree programs, such as graphic design, interior design or industrial design, are also options. While classes vary by school and program, in an undergraduate design degree program you generally take courses in the following:

  • Imaging
  • History of visual arts
  • Fundamentals of design
  • Color and composition
  • Digital media
  • 2-D and 3-D design
  • Drawing

In addition to theory classes, you need to fulfill studio requirements, where you create original artwork. This artwork will form your portfolio, which you can show to potential employers to demonstrate your skills.

Important Facts About These Careers

Graphic Designer Interior Designer Multimedia Artist/Animator
Key Skills Creativity, analytical, and time-management skills Interpersonal, problem-solving, and visualization skills Creativity, time-management, and computer skills
Similar Occupations Art director, desktop publisher, technical writer Fashion designer, landscape architect, industrial designer Computer programmer, graphic designer, craft/fine artist
Work Environment Full-time, usually tailored around the client's schedule Full-time, sometimes traveling to meet client needs Full-time, sometimes on deadline
Professional Certification/Training Provided through software vendors to show levels of ability Typically available through professional/trade associations Additional software/application training may be necessary.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Graphic Designer

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you'll likely need an undergraduate degree in graphic design if you want to work as a graphic designer (www.bls.gov). As a graphic designer, you create messages using a combination of text and images. Your work may be published in magazines, newspapers, and brochures, or as part of a promotional campaign. Places that employ graphic designers include advertising and publishing firms. You may also choose to work as a freelancer. In May 2018, the BLS reported that graphic designers earned a median annual wage of $50,370. These professionals will experience job growth from 2016-2026 that is slower than average, at a rate of 4%.

Interior Designer

As an interior designer, you plan and create interior spaces for a variety of building types, including homes, offices, and hotels. You may work with other design professionals, such as architects and engineers, to create rooms that are beautiful, functional and easily accessible. The BLS reports that interior designers typically work for design firms or as freelancers. In May 2018, the BLS reported that interior designers earned a mean annual wage of $53,370. They will experience an average 4% employment increase from 2016 through 2026.

A bachelor's degree that includes some interior design courses is necessary to work in this career. Many states require that you have a license to work as an interior designer. You need at least six years of combined education and work experience to be eligible to take the licensure exam, which is administered by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (www.ncidq.org).

Multimedia Artist and Animator

Another career option with a degree in design is multimedia artists and animators. Rather than mainly creating static graphics like graphics designers do, you'd work with 2-D and 3-D animations. You'd also be involved with making visual effects. Your designs may be used for video games, television shows, and movies, and you might specialize in one of these areas. Depending on the industry in which you work, you might work with movie directors, video game designers or actors.

In addition to having a bachelor's degree related to this field of art, becoming a multimedia artist and animator requires various skills and a strong work portfolio. For example, you might need to know how to create graphics, do programming and make videos. Strong computer skills are essential since much of your work is done on computers. The BLS predicts that this career will have an 8% employment increase from 2016-2026. Average earnings for multimedia artists and animators as of May 2018 were $72,520, according to the BLS.

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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