Video games. Political campaign posters. Apartment buildings. The website you’re reading right now. What do these disparate things have in common? They are all made by designers. Design is a creative, diverse field that presents many opportunities depending on your interests and skill. The best designers are have eye for detail, can give their clients what they want, and are up-to-date on all the latest trends, software, and technology in their field. There are many professional industries that fall under the design spectrum, but here are the major ones:
Architects plan and design the construction of new buildings or renovate existing ones. They are trained in safe practices and must be familiar with the local planning and zoning codes in the areas they are building in.
Interior designers decorate living spaces. They are involved with the entire process, from beginning with a concept to overseeing its execution, and they work on residential, commercial, or industrial spaces.
Graphic designers work with clients to create a visual representation of their brand through typography and layout. They strive to make visually appealing, attention-grabbing work.
Web designers build websites, either from scratch or based off templates, using software and tools. They organize the information in a user-friendly manner and decide on the overall visual appearance.
From high-end couture to sensible everyday wear, fashion designers come up with ideas for clothes and accessories, sketching designs, and even making them. They may work for themselves on a contract basis or for a fashion firm.
Commercial designers make the products you use in your everyday life, including automobiles, furniture, housewares, and toys.
Game designers create and build on existing video game software for a variety of consoles, from your PlayStations and Wiis to your cell phone.
What Can I Do With an Online Degree in Design?
Most careers in design require at least a bachelor’s degree, while some professions, such as architecture, often require more advanced education and additional certification to abide by state and national regulations. Many degree programs, including those offered through an online college for graphic design, will also stress internships with firms or designers to provide hands-on experience, mentorship opportunities, and connections. Throughout their career, designers may continue their education to stay on top of new practices, tools, and technology.
Because of the client-based nature of the job, designers often work on a freelance basis, free to set their own hours and take on as many projects as they like. Or they might find work for a firm as an assistant, manager, or consultant. Salaries vary greatly depending on the area of design. For example, according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for graphic designers is $48,140 as of May 2010. For interior designers, that number is $52,100, while for architects, it’s $78,530. According to a study by Game Developer magazine, the average annual salary for game designers was $70,223 in April 2011.
Salaries may also vary by location. Graphic designers, for instance, might want to head to the District of Columbia, New York, or California, which are the highest paying areas for the field, according to the BLS. For interior designers, those states are New Hampshire, New York, and Maine, while for architects, they are California, Vermont, and Nevada. As for job opportunities, the states with the highest levels of employment for graphic design are California, New York, and Florida. For both interior designers and architects, they are California, Texas, and New York.
These figures and figures are informative, though it is important to remember that they are not indicative of what you can expect to make in any of these design fields. Both salary and job opportunities will greatly depend on your level of education and experience, as well as the economic climate and demand in your field.
What Is It Like To Get An Online Degree in Design?
If you’re transitioning into a new career in design, or if you are looking to complete your degree, there are many distance learning options available that offer a flexible education on your own schedule. Unlike disciplines that require interaction with patients or specific equipment, many design degrees, such as ones earned through programs for web design, can be completed entirely online with the aid of live lectures, video instruction, and relevant software, as well as through communication via chat, message boards, email, or phone.
Programs generally will teach students the best current practices and tools in their field, as well as prepare them for any necessary exams. Online classes for interior design, for example, often will start with the basics, teaching students sketching, technical drafting, and computer graphics, and gradually advance to color concepts, materials, and lighting design, while online schools for graphic design often will cover print and editorial design, typography, branding, and production skills. Because there’s always new technology or software a designer should know, a career as a designer is one of life-long learning. Some credentials, such as certain architect certifications, may even require continuing educations credits to renew them. And just as you earned your degree online, you can continue to learn and gain new skills with online programs, too.