Graphic Designer: Education Requirements & Career Info

Graphic designers require some formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

Graphic designers are visual communicators who design and develop print and electronic media, such as magazines, television graphics, logos and websites. They may be employed by advertising firms, design companies, publishers and other businesses that need design professionals. Most graphic designers earn bachelor's degrees. These programs allow them to develop design and technical skills, and they are able to create portfolios of their work that can help them obtain employment after graduation.

Required EducationBachelor's degree in graphic design
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*7%
Median Salary (2013)* $44,830

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Graphic Designer Educational Requirements

Earning a certificate or associate's degree in graphic design may qualify graduates for assistant or technical support positions in the field; however, most graphic design positions require at least a bachelor's degree. Students may benefit from attending one of the approximately 300 schools approved by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Some graphic design programs only admit applicants who have completed at least one year of art and design courses. Admission may also entail submission of sketches and other artwork.

Bachelor's Degree Curriculum

Some colleges and universities offer Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design programs. These 4-year degree programs equip students with the technical and artistic skills necessary for entry-level employment or even higher positions in graphic design. Curricula are comprised heavily of design coursework, as well as liberal arts instruction. Courses may include:

  • Typography
  • Book design
  • Drawing
  • Advanced graphic design
  • Computer-assisted design
  • Digital media
  • Photography

Other Requirements

Along with formal education, graphic designers must have artistic capacity and strong verbal, visual and written communication skills. Graphic designers must also have strong portfolios that showcase examples of their best work, which employers generally consider during the hiring process. Designers often work independently and must meet strict deadlines, so the ability to manage time and stay on schedule is important. Business and sales skills are also beneficial for this career, especially for graphic designers who are self employed.

Employment Projections

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of graphic designers was expected to increase 7% from 2012-2022 ( Growth should be an effect of the rising number of electronic design firms, as well as increasing numbers of products and services that need to be advertised. Graphic designers with expertise in Web design, interactive media and animation were expected to see the greatest job opportunities, whereas designers in print publishing were expected to experience a decline in demand.

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