Employers typically hire 2-D designers that have a graphic design degree and several years of art and design experience. Common degree programs for 2-D designers include an associate's or bachelor's degree in graphic design. Though some employers only ask for two years of college-level design work, a bachelor's degree is the recommended academic path for 2-D designers. Programs routinely used by 2-D design software including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and CorelDRAW, which are covered in the degree curricula. Some of these programs are offered online.
Associate of Arts in Graphic Design
An associate's degree program in graphic design requires two years of study to complete. Students will be prepared for careers with design, animation, engineering and creative consulting companies. Courses combine traditional classroom learning with extensive hands-on computer use, where students learn to create, edit and manipulate digital graphics and multimedia products. Common courses include:
- Digital media
- Print mediums
- Web design
- Computer-aided drafting (CAD)
- Digital image manipulation
- Theories of design and aesthetics
Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design
Students looking to maximize their employment opportunities can pursue a four-year bachelor's degree in graphic design. In a graphic design program, students learn advanced techniques in digital layout and presentation, using fonts, graphics and images to create cohesive artistic results. Students learn to analyze colors and create visual appeal through psychology-based coursework in visual communication and mass communications. Typical courses include:
- Visual communication
- Commercial graphic production
- Computer-aided drafting and design (CADD)
- Drawing, sketching and creative presentation
- Desktop publishing
Popular Career Options
Individuals who get 2-D training can work in many different industries. Some popular job titles might include:
- Graphic designer
- Web designer
- Advertising agent
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The BLS states that graphic designers made a median yearly wage of $46,900 as of May 2015. Data from that same year stated that multimedia artists and animators earn a median annual salary of $63,970. The employment for graphic designers, from 2014 to 2024, is expected to grow 1%, while the employment for animators is expected to grow 6% in the same time frame.
Continuing Education Information
Many community colleges and universities offer graphic design workshops through their art and design departments. Workshops usually last one or two days and focus on specific areas of graphic design, such as computer-aided drafting (CAD), flash animation, Web design or industrial graphic design. Training workshops are offered for specific computer programs, such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, two of the most widely used design software programs. Established in 1914, the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) holds yearly seminars, summits and conferences for its members.
Membership in the AIGA can provide additional development and career opportunities that are not available elsewhere. The AIGA is the largest graphic design association and provides information on continuing education, professional networking and graphic design jobs. The group releases periodic newsletters that provide designers with career advice and information on design practices and other trends in graphic design. AIGA also provides educational opportunities, such as scholarships and guidebooks for beginning graphic designers.
Students in 2D design training programs, like an Associate of Arts in Graphic Design or a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design, learn how to use the computer software used by graphic designers, multimedia artists and animators.