What Can You Do With A Graphic Design Degree? 8 Career Paths To Consider

Technology surrounds us. We carry some of the most advanced and compact electronic devices with us in our pockets! We watch movies and television shows while we commute or wait in line. Indeed, we live in an age where media and technology exist in nearly perfect synchronicity, with people at its harmonious center.

But the phones, tablets, VR headsets, and other technological devices didn’t appear from thin air. Someone had to think of them, and more importantly, design them. 

The same is true for most forms of media. Your television shows and movies had to be designed, drafted, and edited. You can thank graphic designers for nearly every technological pleasure you enjoy today.

So, what can you do with a graphic design degree? The better question would be, “What can’t you do?” 

From product design to animation, a degree in graphic design can help you chase your creative dreams and endeavors, all while helping shape the world around you.

Because there are so many career paths available to those with a graphic design degree, there’s hardly any worry about gaining employment post-graduation. Let’s explore some of the careers a new graduate can expect to explore upon obtaining their graphic design degree!

What Is A Graphic Design Degree?

A graphic design degree is typically a four-year graduate degree, aimed at training students to become professionals in the visual design field.

A graphic design degree prepares you to understand popular design software and programming, various design techniques, advertising methodology, and how to deal with clients.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Graphic Design Degree?

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The time it takes to obtain your graphic design degree varies depending on the type of degree you pursue. Some technical and community colleges offer certifications and two-year associate degrees in graphic design, while universities offer bachelor's degrees and master's degrees in this field.

While it is possible to be hired as a graphic designer with only a certificate or associate degree, a bachelor’s degree will give you far more clout with employers and boost your initial earnings.

How Much Does It Cost To Get A Graphic Design Degree?

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Depending on your course of study, your student residency, and the nature of the educational institution that you choose, a degree or certification in graphic design can cost anywhere between $7,000 and $35,000.

Choosing an in-state school can save you nearly half the cost of tuition. Also, certificate and associate degrees are generally lost costly than a bachelor’s degree, as they require less time and education.

What Is The Average Salary For A Graphic Designer?

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In 2018, the average annual salary for a graphic designer in the US was around $50,000. But in metropolitan areas and growing states, the yearly salary was much higher.

New York, California, Florida, Texas, and Illinois are all states in which the need for graphic designers is steadily increasing.

What Career Paths Can A Graphic Designer Pursue?

Because graphic design is essential to so many industries, the positions and career paths available to graduates is enormous. Listed below are several of the most popular options for those who hold a degree in graphic design.

Graphic Designer

Are you still wondering, “What can you do with a graphic design degree?”

First and foremost, a degree in graphic design can help you become a graphic designer! But what exactly does a graphic designer do? 

A good deal of graphic designers are self-employed and work freelance jobs in addition to building their own business and brand to attract clients.

While the needs of the client vary from person to person, graphic designers generally create logos, web content, illustrations, design layouts, and other digital media to the specifications given to them by their client.

They then review their work with the client, make changes as necessary, and submit the completed product to the client in return for a predetermined amount of pay.

Most graphic designers tend to form a niche in which they have the most interest and skill, allowing them to complete projects that both adhere to their tastes and have higher quality due to previous experience.

Web Designer

Many graphic designers decide to specialize in web design. Every modern professional, business, company, or product requires a dedicated webpage. However, not everyone knows how to design, program, publish and maintain a web site. 

This demand for professional websites is where graphic designers come in. They discuss the client's needs to better determine the design and layout styles for their requested site. 

Web designers must use HTML, SEO principles, and advertising applications to ensure a professional product. They are also responsible for maintaining that page as the client finds necessary.

With so many businesses attempting to increase their online presence, a career as a web designer is sure to be busy!

Product Designer

Have you ever wandered around your local supermarket or department store, wondering who in the world designed the logo for your preferred brand of toothpaste or the sleek shape of your new cell phone?

Product designers utilize their graphic design background to improve the design of current products, in addition to creating designs for new and novel items.

As a product designer, you may be asked to redesign a product to make it easier or cheaper to manufacture, more ergonomic, or naturally more attractive to consumers.

Your work could impact millions of people, so product designers must be incredibly organized, focus, and aware of meeting the needs of their clients and employers.

Drafter

As a drafter, your primary focus will be using digital design software to translate the architectural blueprints given to you by clients or employers, into technical drawings.

3-D prints and schematics greatly aid construction work. A highly skilled drafter can assist in the building process immensely, and their employers are sure to be thankful for an expedient turn-around.

Drafters must be incredibly detail-oriented, as well as familiar with most building codes, software mechanics, and client interaction.

Art Director

Everyone knows what a film director does, but what does an art director do? It may surprise you to find that an art director’s work inspires and corresponds with a film director’s work and vision! 

When production is approved, one of the first moves any producer makes is to hire an art director. Whether the work is a theatrical piece, an animated short, or a full-length feature film, an art director is essential in creating and organizing the visual elements of the production.

If you have ever seen a visual storyboard, you have seen the work of an art director. They generally set the visual tone and flavor for a piece, and work with the design team to maintain those visual themes throughout the entirety of the work.

Creative Director

Much like an art director, a creative director creates the visual representation of an idea to attract attention and express a cohesive thought or message. 

However, creative directors tend to work with businesses, creating the look and visual theme for that company. Think about your favorite snack or beverage. Which do you imagine first, the actual product or the packaging and logo associated with it?

Creative directors are influential people, as they can massively impact and influence consumer attitudes with smart visual branding. If done correctly, this branding can become an entity in its own right!

Creative directors are responsible for generating many different types of visual content for the companies which hire them. They may assist in creating logos, color schemes, digital and print media, and videography.

This position requires you to oversee all aspects of the visual representation of a brand or company, so leadership, empathy, excellent listening skills, and lots of experience are a must for this particular career path.

Artist / Animator

What can you do with a graphic design degree? How about animate for television and film, or create unique artwork? 

Graphic designers have mastered the digital design software that they work with, and so can easily translate ideas into creative works of art that can be printed on various goods and sold for profit by the artist.

Many modern artists work entirely digitally and sell their prints on online marketplaces for decent prices.

Animators have mastered the graphic design and animation software and can produce animated video content for clients and employers.

Animators use innovative software and digital design techniques to create stunning, visually pleasing work.

Video Editor

Graphic designers that get into video editing will spend several hours dissecting raw footage, making cuts, splices, transitions and various other adjustments and improvements to create a professionally finished project. 

In addition to being technically proficient, video editors must also be able to work with film and commercial producers closely. The desired goal is a perfect marriage between the client’s vision and expectations, and the skills and awareness of the video editor.

Video editors can make or break a project, so their choices and techniques are incredibly influential.