A bachelor's degree in graphic design will provide you with the coursework necessary to succeed in the work force. On average, if you attend a traditional college or university as a full time student, it will probably take you between four and five years to obtain your bachelor's degree. If you decide to attend school part time, or to attend an online learning institution, it will most likely take you longer to complete your degree program. Before deciding which school you will attend you will want to ensure that they offer a program that fits your career goals. Also, you will have prerequisites that must be completed before entering a graphic design degree program.
Typically, these prerequisites are similar to the prerequisites required by other bachelor's degree programs. After completing your prerequisites you will be ready to apply to a graphic design degree program. You may want to consider applying to more than one school to be sure that you receive your degree from an accredited graphic design program within 2 years.
Keep in mind, when you apply to a graphic design program you will probably be asked to provide ACT or SAT scores, a high school transcript, and any letters of recommendation that you can obtain.
As you begin your coursework, you will be required to take professionally related courses, digitally related classes, and traditional courses. Your professional courses are designed to make it possible for you to show potential employers what you are capable of producing. As you complete these courses, you will create a portfolio and collaborate on projects that will have you ready to enter the career world without any bumps along the way. Within this section of your degree program, you will also have the opportunity to take part in an internship. This will provide you the valuable chance to practice and apply the skills you have been learning about.
Digital graphic design classes will focus on teaching you the latest technology that is available for graphic designers. To effectively complete your job responsibilities as a graphic designer, it will be critical that you can manipulate digital photos and use software to graphically create a wide range of items. As you fine tune your computer skills, you will also learn how to make your designs appealing for online supply and how to successfully package your designs. Your courses that fall under the traditional category are intended to teach you the basic aspects of graphic design, in more extensive detail. For example, among the traditional coursework for your bachelor's degree you will likely take courses in photography, illustrations, and drawing. The purpose is to help you improve your visualization skills, learn to edit according to a client's specifications, and produce a desirable product that more than suits a client's needs.
After you have obtained your bachelor's degree in graphic design, you will be all set to begin your new career. On any given day, you will use a variety of media to design and develop the layouts for newspapers, magazines, and other types of publications. Graphic designers work to express a message through print and other media.
One of the question our staff often gets asked is how to find clients for their graphic design business. Some students once they graduate with their Bachelor’s degree in graphic design go out and apply for jobs only to find out they lack the work experience that often companies are looking for. Below are just a few of the ways we have advised new graduates to fine employment or clients after graduation.
Freelance Work – As a new designer one of the first places to look for clients is online as a freelance contractor. This can be challenging work but what it does it give you a chance to work for your first company and learn how designers interact in a corporate setting. Also some companies use freelance workers in an attempt to find one they really like and then offer them a job. I would check out some of the freelance websites just for graphic designers first as well as sites like Craigslist. Don’t be too picky when you start out as you really just need experience at this point and you aren’t looking for your dream job. Be sure to set clear expectations before you accept any job. Often companies work contract or freelance workers because they can pay them a low wage but they expect you to spend tons of time doing projects. Remember that the goal is to find full-time work, not work full-time and get paid for part-time work.
Online SEO – If you understand SEO marketing then take your talents and put them to good use by promoting your own website. Your personal website should showcase all of your graphic design skills including what you accomplished in college. Take time to build a good site showcasing your talents including an online portfolio of all of your printed and digital designs.
Referrals – One of the best ways that require the least amount of effort is to ask your friends, family members, associates, anyone for a referral. You would be surprised just how many people know someone that is looking for graphic design work. It could be something simple as business card designs or a flyer for a friend but usually that is just a great way to start getting the projects to come in.
Specialization – Instead of trying to find a job anywhere you can narrow down your search and go after a particular industry. Take real estate for example. Every real estate agent needs someone to create flyers, door hangers, brochures for open houses, even banners. Go directly to their business and create a custom proposal just for them. It is a good idea to have your own promotional materials printed so clients can see some of your work and pricing.
Consulting Business – These days’ companies are hiring lots of graphic designers on a contract basis to avoid paying for a full-time employee that is expensive due to taxes and benefits. You can decide to start your own consulting business and by doing it online nobody will ever know how big of a company you really are. You can even scale up your practice by hiring other graphic designers to do the work while you look for new clients.
We interviewed Jill Browning of Design Concepts who is a full-time graphic designer to give us an insight into what it is like working in the graphic design industry.
Question: What is your main role at the company and how did you get started?
First off thanks for talking to me, I really love talking about the industry I’m in. My main role at the company is the lead graphic designer. I work with a team of 6 other designers and provide design support for all of the projects we receive from our clients. I started with design after I graduated in 2001 with my Bachelors of Arts degree in graphic design. It was at the height of the internet age and I really wanted to be at the forefront of digital graphic design.
Question: Do you have to deal with clients?
Yes but not as much as the account reps have to. They bring me in to go over sample concepts and explain certain designs before we spend too much time on the project. Since we bill our clients by the hour we need to make sure we are spending time on ideas that the client will like.
Question: Have you ever considered being a graphic design consultant or freelancer?
I was actually a freelancer when I first started. I think it is a great thing to do for any new graphic designer as it gets you exposed in the industry and you actually learn a ton regarding how to deal with customers and personalities. I kind of still consider how I work as a freelancer as I’m always working with a new company.
Question: What are your career goals?
One day I’d love to be able to own my own graphic design shop or agency. I really enjoy working with teams of other designers. I would however like to back away from working on the client side of things as design clients can be real pushy and I just love producing good designs.
Question: What advice would you give a young graphic designer that wants to break into the industry?
For me I think the biggest gift I was ever given was the ability to just do design work. Sounds weird but I know so many people that have great business skills or presentation skills but they can’t draw or design. I would say make sure to follow your dream and don’t give up. The graphic design industry is always changing and stay current with all the latest software packages. The more you know the more employable you’ll be.
According to the bureau of labor statistics the average graphic designer makes $45,900 per year and the top 10% make $80,570. We feel this is pretty accurate nationwide as we have had people from all over share with us their salary.
Ico-D - International Council of Design - Last visited November 30, 2018