Best Degrees for a Career in Graphic Design |
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Best Degrees for a Career in Graphic Design

Do you recognize the Nike “swoosh” logo? What about Coca Cola or FedEx? Each of these famous logos was created by a graphic designer. And while some were developed without the use of computers (the Coca Cola logo was designed in 1885), most logos today are produced by graphic designers who are well versed in computer technology and hold a wide range of related skills.

How does one acquire graphic design skills? Some professionals are self-taught and/or learn on the job, but a growing number seek a formal education in graphic design. As graphic design jobs become increasingly competitive, savvy career-seekers are pursuing top graphic design degrees to enter the field or to advance their careers.

Associate Degree: The Best College Degree for Obtaining Technical Skills

An associate degree in graphic design can provide the technical skills you need to be successful in a design setting. This degree may be the best short-term option for finding work as a graphic design assistant or for positions that require a specific skill set, such as knowledge of one type of page layout software.

Alternatively, graphic design may be useful expertise to add to your existing skill set: perhaps you want to enhance your artistic talents or your professional marketing skills. If this is the case, an associate degree may be the best graphic design degree to complement your repertoire.

Bachelor of Arts: Top College Degree

Most entry-level and advanced positions in graphic design require a bachelor’s degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). At this educational level, the top degree programs are a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in graphic design.

What’s the difference? Traditionally, a B.A. represents a broad-based liberal arts degree while a B.F.A. favors visual arts over liberal arts. You are likely to have a greater range of career options with a liberal arts education, which would include courses related to communication, marketing, and management. However, if the creation of art is your passion and your sole career objective, a B.F.A. may be your best degree.

Best Degree Programs at a Master’s Level

Some graphic designers with professional experience–2 to 5 years is typical–choose to pursue an advanced degree to boost their earnings, teach, or obtain a job with higher levels of responsibility. The best degrees build a foundation in research and theory since master’s students generally already possess technical skills. Master’s degrees can also be top degrees for those wanting to work as consultants or high-level communication strategists.

In fact, in the field of graphic design, a master’s degree is considered a pivotal degree whether offered as a Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.).

Some professional graphic designers who already hold a bachelor’s degree pursue master’s degrees in related design fields, such as:

    • Architecture
    • Arts education
    • Journalism
    • Civil engineering
    • Industrial design


Graphic Design Job Outlook

Can graphic designers earn a good living? Yes, according to data from the BLS. In 2009, the mean annual wage for graphic designers was $47,820. This suggests that graphic design may a good career choice and solid path to consider for those interested in arts and design.


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