Programs in graphic communications might emphasize drawing, computer graphics, art and digital media. Students who are interested in gaining a foundational background in this field might consider enrolling in an associate's degree program. Associate's programs are offered through technical schools or 2-year community colleges. Bachelor's degree programs consist of studio and classroom components, allowing students to refine their skills. Student labs and a portfolio are usually program requirements. For bachelor's candidates, a high school diploma or equivalent, familiarity with basic computer operating systems, and a minimum GPA in associate's courses may be required prior to admission.
Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Communications
Associate's degree programs in graphic communications are designed for students who are interested in both technology and creative pursuits. Students enrolled in a program spend studio and classroom sessions studying theories of art, drawing, color and design. They learn how to apply these theories to technical mediums, such as graphic design or web design. Some courses might include:
- Computer graphics
- Digital media
- Desktop publishing
- Introduction to drawing
- Art studio
Bachelor of Science in Graphic Communications
Because graphic communications is such a broad, interdisciplinary field, many students enrolled in these bachelor's degree programs are required to focus on a particular concentration. Students may specialize in digital design, interactive media, 3D animation or graphic design. Each concentration allows students to gain an understanding of how to create and produce graphics within a digital format. Each concentration also requires students to complete at least one hands-on project in a studio or computer lab.
Students must gain acceptance into a 4-year university and complete general education and pre-major coursework before beginning core graphic communications courses. This includes courses such as multimedia, introduction to graphic communications and computer operating systems basics. Some examples of specific courses are listed below:
- 3D modeling
- Design for graphic communications
- Digital production
- Engineering graphics
- Graphics management
Popular Career Options
Graphic communications is an ever-expanding field that can encompass a variety of creative and technical roles. Students who earn an associate's degree in the field could gain an entry-level position as a:
- Graphic designer
- Web designer
- Storyboard artist
- Digital animator
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Graphic designers can work for newspapers, websites, advertising firms and specialized design services. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs will grow at a rate of 1% over 2014-2024. The median annual salary for graphic designers in May 2015 was $46,900 (www.bls.gov).
Graphic designers and other graphic communications professionals can advance to positions of management and creative direction by working their way up in the field. They can also choose to enroll in a master's degree program that focuses on management skills, such as a Master of Science in Graphic Technology Management. Professionals can complete certificate and continuing education programs that focus on new and emerging technologies and software related to the field of graphic communications.
Graphic communications programs at the associate and bachelor's level provide students with adequate knowledge of theoretical and technical aspects necessary for success in the field. Through courses such as introduction to drawing and engineering graphics, graduates will possess the skills needed to enter the field or opt to pursue further studies within graphics communications.