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Graphics Engineer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a graphics engineer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and necessary skills to find out if this is the career for you.

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Graphics engineers require skills in math, graphics and computer software and hardware, in addition to a bachelor's degree in a related field. The job growth outlook for applications software developers, which is what graphics engineers are, is much faster than the market.

Essential Information

Graphics engineers use computer hardware and software to represent and manipulate data and content for interactive video games or other applications. Most employers require candidates to hold a bachelor's degree in a field related to computer engineering. Prospective graphics engineers should also be familiar with programming language and 3-D math.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in computer or software engineering or related field
Other Requirements Knowledge of programming and 3-D math
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 19% for applications software developers
Median Salary (2015)* $98,260 for applications software developers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Graphics engineers create integrated graphics and visual effects systems that are used in the design and development of software applications, such as video games and operating systems. In terms of occupational focus, they are most closely associated with computer hardware engineers and software developers.

In particular, graphics engineers write code in various programming languages to create a visual user interface for systems software or end-user programs. They may also consult with art directors, graphic designers and other related professionals to provide them with the computer tools and software they need to produce motion graphics and visuals.

Job Duties

The job duties of a graphics engineer can include the creation and implementation of asset pipelines, including the architectural frameworks needed to optimize CSS style sheet languages and JavaScript. They also create, document and test computer codes and systems for animation, audio, memory and streaming features, among other areas.

Graphic engineers use application programming interfaces (API) like Microsoft's Direct3D and OpenGL to build 3-D engines and rendering systems for 2-D and 3-D visuals. They may also script with Maya Embedded Language (MEL) or work with Adobe After Effects, a digital motion graphics program used for 2-D animation, color correction and image adjustment in film and television.

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Professional Requirements

Education

Specific degree programs in graphic engineering are not available, but several programs include relevant coursework, such as a bachelor's degree in computer or electrical engineering, computer science or software engineering. Undergraduate and graduate programs in computer or electrical engineering may include topics in circuitry and digital systems design. Software engineering programs at both the bachelor's and master's levels may provide training in computer architecture and organization, computer and human interaction, data structuring and math modeling.

Graphics engineers in particular should have four years of coursework in C/C++ programming languages and training in 3-D math. Degree programs specific to game development and interactive design that lead to a bachelor's or a master's degree are also available. These programs include courses in animation, modeling and rendering, design aesthetics and user-centered design. Training in the use of new media, such as digital audio and video production, may also be included. Depending on the program, graphics engineers may pursue related coursework in narrative content development and scripting.

Required Skills

In addition to a sense of creativity and attention to detail, graphics engineers should have an in-depth knowledge of computer capabilities and programming languages. The ability to anticipate game user needs and work as a member of a team to solve problems related to the design and development of software are also important.

Graphics engineers create visual effects for video games, operating systems and other applications that require graphics. They need degree in computer programming or electronics and may take additional coursework in graphics related fields. These positions had a median annual salary of about $98,000 in 2015.

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