Career Information for a Degree in Graphic Communications

Degree programs for graphic communications cover all aspects of visual design, including marketing and art. Explore the requirements of a degree in graphic communications and learn about career options, job growth, and salary info for graphic communications graduates.

Career options for those with a degree in graphic communications include graphic designers, print supervisors, and desktop publishers. In addition to creativity, successful people in these fields must be familiar with graphics software and have good organizational skills. Job growth expectations are low for all these occupations.

Essential Information

A degree in graphic communications prepares students to work as graphic designers, production managers or even publishing specialists. Programs in graphic communications generally lead to an associate's or bachelor's degree. Students learn the artistic and technological skills they need to work as page designers or related roles. Some bachelor's degree programs and most graduate-level courses in graphic communications prepare students for higher-level work, usually in the field of management.

Specific subjects include production techniques, color theory and computer-generated imagery. Among many other potential job titles, graduates might become graphic designers, print supervisors or desktop publishers. Entry-level positions in graphic communications require little prior education, so a degree in graphic communications may help job candidates stand out from the competition.

Career Graphic Designer Print Supervisor Desktop Publisher
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree in Graphic Design Postsecondary nondegree award Associate's degree or Postsecondary nondegree award
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 1% -3% -21%
Median Salary (2015)* $46,900 $56,340 for all first-line supervisors of production and operating workers $36,800

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Through postsecondary nondegree programs or 4-year programs in graphic communications, students will find they are prepared for a number of jobs that deal with media management and publishing. Below are some examples of career options that utilize skills in graphic communications.

Graphic Designers

Graphic designers work for advertising firms, publishing companies, consulting firms and design companies. Many are also self-employed. They use visual media to create designs and layouts that communicate a message or inform an audience about an idea, product or concept. Many graphic designers are employed on the Web, but many others work to create printed products such as magazine layouts, brochures and posters.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graphic designers with computer and multimedia animation skills are likely to see slower than average employment growth between 2014 and 2024, at a rate of 1%. The median annual salary in this field was $46,900 as of 2015 (www.bls.gov).

Print Supervisors

Printed media includes items like books and magazines, but also advertisements, posters and clothing. The technological skills that a graphic communications program covers can prepare graduates for a job as a bindery worker or print technician, though this level of education may qualify individuals to obtain management positions. Coordinating complex print operations requires organizing not only projects, but also the people who complete those tasks. According to the BLS, the median annual wage for printing supervisors is $56,340 as of 2015.

Desktop Publishers

Desktop publishers use specialized programs like Adobe InDesign and Microsoft Publisher to format and design pages for publication, printing or other uses. Although many desktop publishers work for publications, other types of organizations - from advertising firms to nonprofit companies - also hire desktop publishers to create newsletters, brochures, reports, advertisements and other print or electronic media products.

The BLS expects career opportunities in this field to decline 21% between 2014 and 2024 because of the ease with which a non-professional can accomplish desktop publishing tasks. The median annual salary for desktop publishers as of 2015 was $36,800.

A degree in graphic communications trains graduates to layout and design material for a website or printed page or other visual image. It's possible to enter this career field with little formal training, although an associate's or bachelor's degree may increase job prospects and enable graduates to distinguish themselves from other applicants competing for these jobs.

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