What Is a Graphic Design Certificate?

Graphic design certificate programs are offered on campus and online, and they usually prepare students for entry-level graphic designer jobs in advertising or design firms. In addition to taking several courses, students usually complete a portfolio. Read on to learn more about program course requirements and the job outlook for this field. Schools offering Graphic Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Program Overview

Many community colleges and technical schools offer graphic design certificate programs. These programs can usually be completed more quickly than Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Design degree programs because they do not require students to take as many general education courses as degree programs do. However, they can take between two and five semesters to complete, depending on the school.

The goal of a graphic design certificate program is to prepare students for entry-level jobs as technical graphic designers. In addition to including coursework on graphic design, students may learn about marketing and web design. Some certificate programs may also offer classes at night for students who are working adults.

Important Facts About Graphic Design Certificates

Programs Many graphic designers gain professional experience through an internship
Prerequisites Basic visual skills and some knowledge of Adobe design software may be required
Online Availability Some certificate programs are available entirely online
Continuing Education Certification in popular graphic design software may increase employment prospects

Core Courses

Required core courses for graphic design certificate programs teach art and design theory, history and technique. Students also learn to understand and solve their clients' visual communication problems using both traditional and computer-aided design (CAD) techniques. Some core courses that students may take include:

  • Graphic design history
  • 2D and 3D design
  • Illustration and drawing
  • Brand design
  • Typography
  • Electronic publishing
  • Computer graphics
  • Multimedia applications
  • Digital imaging
  • Website design
  • Motion graphics

General Education and Elective Courses

Graphic design certificate programs sometimes include general education or elective courses. Although requirements vary by school, some common general education courses include introduction to computers, English composition and mathematics. The elective courses are usually related to graphic design or web design and might include courses in illustration, animation or business design. A graphic design internship is also sometimes available for elective credit.

Portfolio Requirement

In graphic design certificate programs, students produce portfolios that showcase their artistic and technical skills, and a course is usually dedicated to helping students prepare their portfolios. Producing a high-quality portfolio can help you land a job as an entry-level graphic designer.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

Graphic designers are expected to experience stiff competition and slower than average in job growth of four percent from 2016 to 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov). Therefore, having a solid portfolio and being able to create designs for both print and online media are necessary to have good job prospects.

The median wage of a graphic designer in May 2018 was $50,370, reported the BLS. Most graphic designers made between $29,610 and $85,760. Specialized design services had the highest employment level for this career and offered workers $56,600 per year on average. Newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers also employed many graphic designers and paid them an average yearly wage of $48,530. The advertising, public relations and related services industry offered an average wage of $55,750 annually.

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