Visual Communications Designer: Job Duties and Requirements

Mar 06, 2019

Learn about what type of work a visual communications designer performs. Explore salary and career outlook as well as educational requirements to determine if this is the right career choice.

Career Definition for a Visual Communications Designer

Visual communications designers are specialized graphic designers that use graphics software applications to create visual design elements for publishers, website developers and other multimedia companies. Companies then use these materials on their websites, print materials, packaging and other visual media. The visual communications designer is responsible for crafting visual designs that represent a company's marketing concepts and goals. Using advanced graphic software programs and other technology, a visual communications designer is able to create something as basic as a brochure or as complex as full-length animation.

Education Two year visual communications associate's degree, bachelor's degree in visual communications
Job Skills Multitasking, creative, familiar with design software
Median Salary (2017)* $48,700 (graphic designers)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 4% (graphic designers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

A 2-year, associate's degree in visual communications, fine arts, or a technical design degree can be enough to get started in the visual communications design field. With a 4-year, bachelor's degree, you may increase your opportunities for employment. Some 4-year, arts schools require students to have one year of art and graphic courses for entry into their bachelor's programs. Visual communications design degree programs often include courses in art, graphic design, marketing, typography and multimedia applications.

Skills Needed

The ability to juggle many projects, be a creative problem solver and conceptual aptitude are necessary skills for visual communications designers. The companies they work for expect a visual communications designer to be familiar with advanced design software and technology.

Career and Economic Outlook

Companies that offer specialized design services, publishers and advertising firms employ the majority of people who work in the graphic design field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) listed the median salary for graphic designers as $48,700 in 2017. Employment of graphic designers is expected to see slower than average growth of 4% from 2016 through 2026, according to the BLS.

Alternative Careers

Similar career options include:

Multimedia Artist

Performing some of the same design tasks as a visual communications designer, a multimedia artist specializes in developing special effects and art for mediums such as video, television, movies and computer games. With the assistance of other design professionals, they sketch out scenes and create images, graphics and animation using specialized computer software.

Since a portfolio of work is necessary to show to prospective employers, earning a bachelor's degree in graphic art, computer graphics or a related field is generally required by employers. The BLS predicts the field of multimedia art and animation will grow as fast as average, by 8%, during the 2016-2026 decade, mostly driven by the demand for movie and video game special effects. Based on BLS data from May of 2017, multimedia artists earned a median income of $70,530.

Art Director

For those interested in coordinating and designing the visual appearance of magazines, product packaging, newspapers and other media, becoming an art director may be a good fit. Art directors help plan the concept of the project, assign work to designers and artists, determine what images and elements should be used, manage the timeline and budget, oversee the work of staff and communicate design ideas to clients.

To enter this profession, a degree in design or art is necessary, and experience working as an editor, graphic designer or other related field is generally required. The BLS expects average job growth of 5% for art directors between 2016 and 2026. Art directors received $92,500 in median wages, as reported by the BLS in May 2017.

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