Graphic design is the creative process of combining images, symbols, and text to communicate a specific message to audiences. Graphic designers are concerned with the visual communication and presentation of information. Using hand-drawn and computer-generated techniques, graphic designers can create visual or audio images, logo designs, and websites for advertising and promotional purposes. Those who want to enter this challenging and exciting field should pursue a college degree in this discipline. Unlike the lower-level certificates and degrees, the bachelor's program provides the most comprehensive instruction and training for prospective graphic designers.
Why a Bachelor’s Degree?
Graphic designers typically have some form of postsecondary education and training before entering this technical field. The most common educational route includes earning a bachelor’s degree in this discipline and gaining valuable work experience. However, many students opt for the less expensive two-year associate degree in graphic design because they want to enter the workforce rather quickly. Those who want an even shorter and less intensive program may choose the vocational certificate in graphic design instead.
While both programs provide excellent instruction and solid career training, they may not meet your potential employers’ minimum educational requirements. The more advanced and competitive the graphic design field becomes, the more emphasis employers will place on education and job preparation.
Inside a Graphic Design Bachelor’s Degree Program
An online graphic design bachelor’s degree generally takes four years to complete, depending on your individual program, course load, and pace. Common courses may include: drawing, color theory, fundamentals of design, introduction to web design, typography, design principles, digital illustration, and more. In addition to the major courses, students will also be expected to take general education classes and electives. Some graphic design programs also offer optional areas of focus, such as print and 2D, web design, motion graphics, and more.
Most online graphic design programs follow the same general curriculum as traditional programs. The biggest difference is that distance students access their courses, lectures, assignments, and grades on a learning management system, such as Blackboard or Moodle. They will also have several individual and group projects that test their technical design knowledge, as well as their creativity, problem-solving, communication, and teamwork skills.
What’s Next for Graphic Design Bachelor’s Degree Holders?
Graduates of the online graphic design bachelor’s degree programs will be qualified to work in a variety of careers, such as graphic designers or art directors. Graphic designers use their artistic and technical skills to create designs for advertising, marketing, and communication purposes. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of graphic designers is expected to increase 1% by 2024. As of May 2014, graphic designers made an average annual salary of $50,670.
Graduates with previous work experience in the field may be eligible for an art director position. This professional usually determines the overall design and direction of a project and oversees the work of graphic designers, photographers, and other staff members. Like graphic designers, art directors will also experience favorable employment opportunities because of the rising number of web-based publications. According to the BLS, art directors made an average annual salary of $97,850 in May 2014, with the top earners working in advertising and public relations.