Visual Literacy Vs. Visual Communication: What's the Difference?

Dec 20, 2010

While visual literacy and visual communication are related, there are many differences between the two. Albeit, visual communications is a much broader field of study and offers myriad possibilities for career employment.

Learn the difference between visual literacy and visual communication, as well as some of the possible careers in each area.

Differences Between Visual Literacy and Visual Communication

Visual literacy is the process of learning by seeing, as well as the idea that individuals learn more quickly and easily if the information in front of them can be processed visually. This information includes drawings, charts and animations. Visual literacy, although not offered as a degree program, can be incorporated into teaching methods and is also offered as a course in journalism, communication and visual design degree programs. Topics of study in a visual literacy course might include charts and information on how people are visually informed and persuaded.

Visual communication is the process of communicating information and ideas using art. Unlike visual literacy, visual communication is offered as a certificate or at the associate's or bachelor's degree level. Students in this major learn how to use visual devices to communicate, inform and persuade. In fact, visual literacy courses could be included in a visual communications program. Topics of study might include public speaking, image editing, illustration, graphic design, typography, print production, and web design.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Advertising and Commercial Design
  • Commercial Photography
  • Fashion Design
  • General Visual Communications Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Illustration and Drawing
  • Industrial Design
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Career Information

Visual Literacy

Visual literacy is useful in many types of workplace tasks. For example, creating presentations, making websites and operating a digital camera all require visual literacy. Occupations in which visual literacy is useful include:

  • Web designer
  • Marketing manager
  • Library and media specialists
  • Software engineer
  • Trainers in business, healthcare, government and continuing education

Visual Communication

A certificate or bachelor's degree program in visual communication prepares students for a variety of creative and artistic careers. Graduates gain the potential to go on to become advertising designers, graphic designers, working with web development firms, magazines, in the fields of image editing and print production. Industries hiring visual communication graduates include:

  • Graphic design firms
  • Advertising agencies
  • Design studios
  • Museums
  • Game studios
  • Marketing departments
  • Media and publishing corporations

Visual literacy is the process of learning through sight, while visual communication is using art and visuals to communicate ideas and information. Visual literacy may be used by web designers and marketing managers, and visual communication graduates may work in game studios and graphic design firms.


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