Media Arts Careers: Options and Requirements

Oct 09, 2019

A job in media arts requires a significant amount of education. Learn about the education, job duties, and other requirements to see if a media art career is for you.

A bachelor's degree in English, journalism, fine arts, digital art or communication can all be used to qualify for a career in media arts. Digital media writers typically study communications, journalism or English, while digital filmmakers may complete a degree in fine arts or filmmaking. Digital media artists typically study digital art to prepare for their career.

Essential Information

Television commercials, billboard advertisements and company brochures are all forms of media art. Media art careers integrate graphics and text to effectively convey an idea. Often these ideas come in various mediums such as television, newspapers or Internet articles. The different mediums, ideas and subjects create a multitude of career options. To enter the media art field, you'll need a least a bachelor's and more advanced degrees for higher paying jobs.

Careers Journalism Digital Media Digital Filmmaking Digital Art/Digital Media
Required Education Bachelor's Degree in English, Journalism or Communications Bachelor's Degree in Filmmaking, Bachelor's of Fine Arts (BFA) or Master of Fine Arts (MFA) for advancement Bachelor or Master of Arts in Digital Art
Other Requirements Internship, Portfolio Portfolio, Graduate Record Exam (GRE) Portfolio, GRE
Median Annual Salary (May 2018)* $62,170 for all Writers and Authors $62,650 for all Film and Video Editors $72,520 for all Multimedia Artists and Animators
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 0% for all Writers and Authors 14% for all Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators 4% for all Multimedia Artists and Animators

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

To pursue a job in the media arts, you need creative talent and proficiency with computers as well as good communication, writing, researching and editing skills. Possible career options are available in the journalism digital media, digital filmmaking and digital art media.

Journalism Digital Media

Journalists are the support structure on which many media arts jobs are built. Trained writers can use their skills to create copy on many subjects - sports, politics, weather or economics, among others. Journalists in media arts generally focus on the digital modes of reaching an audience, such as video, audio and interactive Internet.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), writers and authors in general earned a median annual income of $62,170, as of May 2018. Employment opportunities are expected stay the same during the 2018 to 2028 decade, with most new openings coming via online publications (www.bls.gov).

Media arts journalists generally are required to possess solid work experience and a relevant bachelor's degree focused on writing in the digital age. A bachelor's degree in journalism may involve completing a general media art education and then specializing in a journalism career path. The more specialized courses often involve news reporting and writing, media and communications law, photojournalism, news editing, telecommunications, new media and electronic newsgathering. Some programs may require applicants to complete a pre-program competency test to evaluate computer, writing and grammar efficacy.

Regardless of the medium, journalists often require significant work-related experience for career-level jobs. There are many different ways in which both graduates and undergraduates can earn successful work hours. One example could be a college-based internship. Some bachelor's degrees in the media arts build potential internships into the curriculum. Media arts internships of this type may enable students to start developing a portfolio or resume and learn the ins and outs of the industry.

Digital Filmmaking

Unlike traditional filmmaking, digital filmmaking encompasses computer animation, computer production editing and innovative camera technologies to produce movies and television. Additionally, digital filmmaking requires knowledge of various electronic mediums - such as graphics, animation and 3D - and how to integrate them into the final product. Employers look for filmmakers who have proven talent, prominent experience and a college degree.

Though digital filmmaking has produced significant improvements and innovations within the film industry, it also will likely slow employment growth for roles such as video editors and camera operators since recent digital tools require fewer workers to complete many tasks. The BLS projects a fourteen percent increase in jobs for film and video editors and camera operators from 2018 to 2028. As of May 2018, editors earned a median annual income of $62,650, while camera operators brought in $54,570 per year.

Digital filmmaking incorporates a variety of low-level and high-level industry positions. The variety of positions in digital filmmaking leads to a variety of career requirements.

There are three main modes of education for digital filmmakers: a bachelor's degree in filmmaking (B.A.), a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) or a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in digital filmmaking. The amount and type of education needed varies depending on the employer and occupation within the digital filmmaking industry.

The B.A. degree focuses on gaining entry into the industry and fulfilling the prerequisites of the BFA degree. For example, a Bachelor of Arts in digital filmmaking program includes courses in screenwriting, visual and design fundamentals, digital filmmaking and electronic media writing. In addition to basic courses, many B.A. digital filmmaking students must also complete an independent or group based project toward the end of the curriculum.

The MFA and BFA degrees are designed for those entering advanced industry careers. The topics covered in the BFA degree emphasize digital technology, digital editing, and screenwriting. Like the B.A., the BFA frequently has an end-of-program project that encompasses all of the topics studied.

Finally, those wishing to teach or head into a major studio generally require an advanced Master of Fine Arts degree in digital filmmaking. The MFA degree most often is an all-inclusive learning and working endeavor. Students who apply to this level of program often need an exceptional portfolio of work, satisfactory completion of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and letters of recommendation.

An example MFA study path includes topics such as revisualization and digital workflow, editing, international cinema, screenwriting, production, direction and visual effects. A thesis project is often required at the end of the program involving writing, producing and directing a film based on accumulated educational work.

Digital filmmakers often create a portfolio of work to accompany a traditional resume. Exceptional content such as college projects, screenwriting, specific scenes or visual effects are all good portfolio materials. Besides college-based projects, undergraduates may be able take college-partnered internships. Internships frequently require concurrent enrollment verification and may involve working with film and movie industries.

Digital Art/Digital Media

With the advent of the Internet and heavier reliance on computers, digital art has risen to become a major player in the media arts. Digital artists use a variety of technologies to create animations, computer graphics and experimental art for an assortment of purposes. Often, digital artists utilize a variety of computer programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, to aid them in creating works of art. Like digital filmmaking, digital art encompasses a large variety of jobs and requirements within the industry.

The BLS projects four percent growth for multimedia artists and animators between 2018 and 2028. The outlook is very mixed. While new online products and applications will continually be in demand and create opportunities, much work will be outsourced to other countries to reduce costs. Multimedia artists and animators are expected to earn a median salary of $72,520 per year, as of May 2018.

Although the technologies are variable, they all stem from a shared foundation of knowledge. Training for digital arts is possible at the bachelor's and master's degree levels. The Bachelor of Arts in Digital Art focuses on the variety of possible jobs a student may be employed for in the industry. Computer animation, entertainment design, game development and modeling constitute the major areas of study for the B.A. degree.

The master's degree is a much more in-depth study. Emphasis is placed on building a portfolio of work and continuing skill development. The common prerequisites for the Master of Arts in the digital arts are satisfactory completion of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), letters of recommendation and portfolio work. Those completing the M.A. degree often are required to finish and present a thesis project on a selected topic in the media arts such as an animated film, video game or other study of interest.

Employers look for artists with a good portfolio and experience. While college is great way to build a resume and a portfolio, real life work is sometimes needed. Internships through college and through third-party media art businesses can offer such work. Some digital art business internships may require students to have a good background in using art creation software before applying.

In the field of digital arts, writers create the copy that will be read or used to provide direction for those involved in producing commercials, shows, films or other broadcasts. Digital artists may develop animated characters or animated content and graphics, and film editors piece together all the images shot to create the finished product. A bachelor's degree in a relevant subject area is necessary to prepare for these careers, and a master's degree may increase opportunities, but hands-on experience through internships and jobs is essential, as well.

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