Graphic design, also called graphic art and communication design, is the practice of using various artistic elements — such as color, typography, photographs, and illustrations — to visually express a message. Graphic designers create the layout of printed publications, multimedia and interactive websites, signage, and packages. Graphic designers will need to be familiar with a variety of computer programs and should be creative thinkers who can come up with their own ideas but also listen to the input and requests of clients and peers.
What Can I Do With an Online Degree in Graphic Design?
Completing a graphic design program online and earning your degree can prepare you for a variety of career paths, according to WhatCanIDoWithThisMajor.com, established by the University of Tennessee. Three in 10 graphic designers work for themselves as freelancers, meeting the needs of as many or as few clients as they desire in the graphic design field of their choice. In 2008, their median annual salary was $57,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
You could work in print design, designing newspaper pages, magazine layouts, flyers, handouts, newsletters, book covers, and other publications. Many types of businesses require work from graphic designers, including media firms, publicity firms, creative departments of larger businesses, retail stores, government agencies, universities, non-profit organizations, and others. According to the BLS, median annual wages for print-related graphic designers were between $36,100 and $36,910 in May 2008, the most recent data available. According to a smaller sample conducted by the American Institute of Graphic Art, the median annual salary for a beginning print-based graphic designer in 2011 was $37,500.
Earning a degree from one of the many online graphic design colleges could also prepare you for a career in 3-D design, which means you’d be designing signs, packages, promotional displays, and exhibitions. Employment opportunities for this kind of design can be found at museums, design firms, creative departments of larger businesses, government agencies, and other organizations that might require putting their best foot forward through a creative display. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for specialized design work was $45,870 in May 2008.
Web graphic design is another specialized career field you could pursue with a degree from an online school of graphic design. By focusing on computer graphic design courses, you could have a career in television graphics, motion and interactive graphics, animation, and website design. According to WhatCanIDoWithThisMajor.com, web graphic designers work for film studios, software firms, Internet media companies, online publishers, and online retailers. According to the AIGA, the median salary for junior-level designers who focus on web and interactive design was $42,000 in 2011, and the median salary for motion-graphic designers and animators was $60,000 in 2011.
Attending an online graphic design school could also land you a career in advertising, working for an agency, a company’s advertising department, or in the media at a newspaper, magazine, or TV or radio station. Working at one of those places could mean you’d spend your days doing copywriting, branding, logo design, art direction, production, or other creative services, according to WhatCanIDoWithThisMajor.com. The median annual wages of designers who worked in advertising and public relations in May 2008 was $43,540.
What Is It Like To Get An Online Degree in Graphic Design?
According to the BLS, approximately 300 post-secondary schools offer degree programs in art and design, and more are now offering online programs than ever before. To begin an online graphic design degree at an accredited college, you will need to have a high school diploma or equivalent for admission. Schools may also require you to submit an art portfolio, as well. Because you will be using computer design software for your courses, you will likely need to have a computer with creative, photographic, and design software before beginning your courses, but you should check with your school to be sure of specific technology requirements.
The core requirements will likely include introductory courses in drawing, photography, web design, and digital image manipulation. As you progress in your undergraduate program, or if you pursue a graphic design master’s degree, you will be able to specialize in courses that suit your particular interest or career path, such as airbrushing or advanced courses in photography, Web design, and animation. Your online courses will typically be delivered through an online learning platform that combines video lectures and presentations, discussions with your teachers and classmates, and a way to submit assignments and to take tests online.