Graphic Design: Vocational School Diploma Overview

Oct 09, 2019

Diploma programs in graphic design often focus on graphic design for advertising and production and may be suitable for entry-level graphic design employment.

Essential Information

Through lab work and classroom courses, students in a graphic design diploma program receive an overview of the field and learn how graphic design is used in mediums such as newspapers, books, the Internet and magazines. Hands-on experience through internships may be available as well. Students also work on a professional portfolio to use in their job search.

Applicants to this 2-semester program typically need a high school diploma or GED certificate; completion of a basic personal computer and math course may also be required.

Diploma in Graphic Design

These programs may include a few general education courses like math and English in addition to graphic design-related courses. Graphic designers need to be familiar with computer graphics and design software. Courses may include training on multiple computer graphics and page layout software programs. Coursework for a diploma in graphic design may include:

  • Image manipulation
  • Digital illustration
  • Graphic design history
  • Web development
  • Typography
  • Theory of color and design

Popular Careers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graduates of diploma and associate's degree programs in graphic design may qualify for assistant positions, such as an assistant to a graphic designer. ( The agency notes that many graphic design careers require a bachelor's degree in graphic design. With further study and experience, diploma graduates can prepare for careers like:

  • Graphic designer
  • Desktop publisher
  • Design consultant
  • Multimedia artist

Salary Information and Job Outlook

The BLS anticipates only a growth of 3% in employment of graphic designers between 2018 and 2028; during the same period, desktop publishers are expected to experience a 16% decline in employment, and multimedia artists and animators have a projected growth of 4%.

In 2018, the BLS listed the median annual salary for graphic designers at $50,370, with the top 10% in the field making $85,760 or more. The median income for desktop publishers in 2018 was $42,910, as stated by the BLS, while multimedia artists and animators brought in a median wage of $72,520 per year.

Continuing Education Information

For diploma graduates, the next step up could be a bachelor's degree in graphic design. These 4-year degree programs include participation in studio courses, where students work on topics like 3-D design, the use of color, and graphic design in advertising. To enter a bachelor's degree program in graphic design, a student must have a high school diploma, GED or an associate degree.

Graphic design diploma programs provide students with a knowledge base of graphic design history, digital illustration, image manipulation, and more. Graduates may be able to find employment as graphic design assistants, though working as an independent graphic designer may require the completion of a bachelor's degree program in the field.

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