3D Graphic Design: Training Requirements and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a 3D graphic designer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and career outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

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3D graphic designers need strong computer skills and typically prepare for a career in this field by completing a bachelor's degree in graphic design or fine arts. They are trained in lighting, effects and animation techniques, as well as photography and computer-aided design software. A portfolio showcasing their work is essential for those seeking employment in this field.

Essential Information

3D graphic designers are digital artists who create visual images to communicate messages to target audiences. These images may be in the form of illustrations, animation, photographs or text. 3D graphic designers are involved in the entire creative process from conceptualization and layout design through final development. They are employed in many industries. Getting into this field typically requires a bachelor's degree and portfolio of work.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 1%
Median Salary (2015)* $46,900 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Training Requirements

A career in 3D graphic design generally requires a bachelor's degree. Some schools offer Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design degrees, while others offer graphic design as a specialization within the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree. The curriculum in the first two years progresses from traditional hand drawings, painting, writing, typesetting, typography and photography to computer-generated 3D elements such as 3D modeling, lighting, textures, effects and animation techniques. These are in addition to general education and elective course requirements. Third- and fourth-year students focus on advanced, project-oriented courses in 3D graphic design, digital portfolio and production management. Students also complete courses that develop communication abilities and visual problem solving, skills that will be essential in interacting with future clients. Students are required to complete internships and to prepare a professional portfolio of their work to prepare them to effectively market themselves in the workplace.

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Career Information

3D graphic designers create visual materials that meet specific client requirements. They prepare sketches or storyboards based on these requirements; once the concepts are approved, designers create the final products using computers and specialized software, such as CINEMA 4D. Graphic designers with 3D expertise are employed in various industries, including motion pictures, broadcast graphics, advertising, publishing and Web design. They may be employed as regular employees or may work under contract on a freelance basis.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Demand for graphic designers is expected to grow 1% between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); that job growth rate is slower than the average range for all professions combined (www.bls.gov). Employment competition is expected to be keen, and those with strong technological skills may be more competitive in the job market.

The median annual salary for graphic designers in 2015 was $46,900, according to the BLS. The site indicates that most professionals in the field made from $27,560 to $81,320 per year at that time.

3D graphic designers may prepare items to be photographed or filmed, or produce images using computer software. They may work in the motion picture industry or in advertising, or with web designers. Creativity and a college degree are generally required to succeed in this field.

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