Graphic Designer: Education Requirements & Career Info

Oct 20, 2021

Graphic designers require some formal education. Learn what degree you need to be graphic designer and explore experience requirements, job responsibilities, and essential graphic design skills for a career in this industry.

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Graphic Design Job Requirements and Description

Graphic designers are visual communicators who design and develop print and electronic media, such as magazines, television graphics, logos and websites. They may be employed by advertising agencies, design companies, publishers and other businesses that need design professionals. Most graphic designers earn bachelor's degrees. These programs allow them to develop design and technical skills, and develop portfolios that can help them obtain employment after graduation.

Graphic Designer Qualifications

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field(s) Art, graphic design, or related field
Licensure/Certification Voluntary certifications available
Experience Portfolio and samples work required
Key Skills Artistic and creative; strong presentation, verbal, visual, and written communication skills; ability to work independently and meet deadlines; business and sales skills a plus if self-employed
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 4% growth*
Median Annual Salary (2018) $50,370*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Graphic Designer Education and Training

Earning a certificate or associate's degree in graphic design may qualify graduates for assistant or technical support positions in the field. However, most graphic design positions require at least a bachelor's degree. Students may benefit from attending one of the more than 300 schools approved by the National Association of Schools and Art Design. As part of their graphic design prerequisites, some programs only admit applicants who have completed at least one year of art and design courses. Admission may also entail submission of sketches and other artwork. Plenty of graphic design schools in Georgia, for example, require a design portfolio as part of their admission process.

How Many Years of College Does It Take to Be a Graphic Designer?

Some colleges and universities offer Bachelor of Fine Arts programs with opportunities to focus on graphic design. These 4-year degree programs equip students with the technical and artistic skills necessary for entry-level employment or even higher positions in graphic design. Curricula are comprised mostly of design coursework, as well as a liberal arts core. Courses may include topics in commercial art, computer-assisted design, printing and studio art. Students may also take classes in book design and typography and participate in internships.

Graphic Design Career Skills

Along with a formal education, graphic designers should be artistic and creative and have strong verbal, visual and written communication skills. Designers often work independently and must meet strict deadlines, so the ability to manage time and stay on schedule is important. Business, marketing, and sales skills are also beneficial for this career, especially for graphic designers who are self-employed.

Employment Projections

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of graphic designers was expected to increase 4% from 2016-2026. As of 2018, graphic designers earned a median salary of $50,370, also according to the BLS. Graphic designers with expertise in computer systems design can look forward to more employment opportunities, whereas designers working in print publishing will see a decrease in jobs.

Lesson Summary

Graphic designers design and develop print and electronic media, such as magazines, television graphics, logos and websites for advertising firms, design companies and publishers. As of 2018, they earned a median salary of $50,370, according to the BLS. Graphic design requirements typically include a minimum of a bachelor's degree, such as a BFA in Graphic Design is usually required to enter the field.

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