Career Information for a Degree in Design and Applied Arts

Oct 04, 2019

A degree in design and applied art can prepare individuals for a career as a designer, graphic designer or multimedia artist and animator. An associate's or bachelor's degree may be sufficient formal education, but those preparing to enter this field will need to develop a portfolio to showcase their skills to potential employers. These professionals could design clothing, furniture or advertisements or illustrate animated movies.

Essential Information

Design and applied art programs prepare people to design applications for art and convert ideas into visual images. In this field, students learn about drawing, layout and manipulating images for commercial and non-profit purposes. Students may choose between an associate's or a bachelor's degree program. People who have obtained a degree in design and applied arts often find employment as designers, graphic designers and multimedia artists and animators.

Career Titles Designer Graphic Designer Multimedia Artist and Animator
Education Requirements Associate or bachelor's degree Associate or bachelor's degree Associate or bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 2% for art and design workers 3% 4%
Median Salary (2018)* $40,170-$51,380, depending on area of specialization $50,370 annually $72,520 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

People interested in design and applied arts combine artistic vision with commercial need. Art designers produce images to sell, educate, entertain and use their vision to create works of art found in publications and on signs, billboards, company logos, company letterhead and websites. Those who have completed a degree program in design and applied arts may have several career options available for them.


Designers combine practical knowledge and applied skills to create manual and computer-generated images to be used for commercial purposes to sell products and promote services. Many designers choose to focus on one or two particular areas, such as clothing, textiles, floral arrangements, websites, logos, home and office interiors or sets. Designers begin by preparing sketches or models to illustrate the vision for their design, and then will often supervise those who carry out their creations.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for art and design workers in general, was expected to grow 2% for the years 2018-2028. A large number of designers are self-employed and do freelance work, often in addition to other design contracts. Designers' earnings can vary depending on their specialization and type of organization.

Graphic Design

Graphic designers plan, analyze and create visual images to communicate a message. They may use digital photography and photo printing to create graphic art. Graphic artists produce the majority of all modern print media ranging from brochures, posters, advertisements, magazines and commercials. Most graphic artists use computer programs that allow them to edit digital images efficiently.

Graphic designers work in the design industry including areas such as multimedia development, multimedia design, Web page design, advertising and computer graphic design. The BLS stated in 2018 that the median annual wage of graphic designers was $50,370. Employment for graphic designers was expected to grow 3% for the years 2018-2028, also according to the BLS.

Multimedia Art and Animation

Multimedia artists and animators draw a series of illustrations that form animated moving images as seen in movies, television programs and video games. They may use various digital programs in order to easily manipulate animations or 3-D models.

Well-trained animators will continue to enjoy demand for their services and above average salaries, particularly in film special effects, video gaming and computer systems design. The BLS stated that the median annual wage for animators and multimedia artists was $72,520 in May 2018. Employment for multimedia artists and animators was expected to grow 4% for the years 2018-2028, also according to the BLS.

Degree Programs in Design and Applied Arts

In design and applied art programs, students learn the theories of color and design as well as techniques of drawing, animation and photo editing. Many design and applied art students take courses in marketing, business management and computer science. Schools offer 2-year associate's degree programs and 4-year bachelor's degree programs related to design and applied arts, such as graphic design programs.

The job growth for designers and graphic designers is expected to be slower than average from 2018-2028 when compared to all occupations. Jobs for multimedia artists and animators are expected to increase 4% during the same time period, which is as fast as average. Multimedia artists and animators also earned much higher annual median salaries.

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