Associate of Fine Art (AFA): Visual Communications Degree Overview

Associate of Fine Arts programs are not typically available in visual communications; however, students can find Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Visual Communications programs offered through community colleges and technical schools.

Essential Information

Students in AAS programs in visual communication gain fundamental design and illustration skills, as well as theoretical education in areas such as perspective, mass, and space. Students master a range of essential software programs, such as Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop. They learn to operate essential equipment like digital cameras, scanners, and printers. This degree program offers concentrations in several areas, such as multimedia, graphic design, illustration, Web design, and digital photography. Applicants to this two-year program are required to hold at least a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Associate's Degree in Visual Communications

The courses in a visual communication program examine drawing, painting, typography, and imagery. In addition to classroom studies, students may complete a portfolio of works. Internships may be available for individuals seeking early career preparation. Typical courses students complete include:

  • Digital media
  • Design communication
  • Computers
  • Mass communication
  • 2-D design

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a visual communications program have the creative and technical skills to find an array of careers in advertising, desktop publishing, Web design, photography, and multimedia communications. Popular career titles may include:

  • Multimedia artist
  • Animator
  • Graphic artist
  • Desktop publisher
  • Assistant graphic designer

Selected Career and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that jobs for multimedia artists and animators will increase 6% from 2014-2024, while jobs for graphic designers will increase 1%. The BLS also reported that multimedia artists and animators earned a median salary of $63,970 in May 2015. That same year, graphic designers earned a median salary of $46,900.

Continuing Education

Graduates of this degree program may consider pursuing a bachelor's degree in a visual communications-related field, such as graphic design, advertising, or desktop publishing. Bachelor's degree programs provide students with advanced skills in design principles, graphic production, and printing techniques. Additionally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, students interested in becoming graphic designers typically need a bachelor's degree.

In AAS in Visual Communications programs, students receive technological and artistic training, which can be applied to careers in design. Graduates can pursue entry-level positions in the multimedia field or advance their employment prospects by enrolling in a bachelor's degree program.

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