Visual Media Degree and Career Information

Oct 25, 2019

Essential Information

Students in visual communication programs learn how to use images, words, and art to create messages that connect with people. Student typically learn how to demonstrate proficiency by taking courses in drawing and painting, as well as computer classes to learn digital media production. Some schools may focus solely on art and design, and require completion a portfolio or other project.

Many degree programs fall into the category of visual media. Some include: Associate of Science in Visual Arts, Associate of Science in Design, Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design.

Both associate's and bachelor's degree programs require a high school diploma or equivalent. For bachelor's programs, college entrance exam scores are usually needed and admission may be highly competitive.

Associate's Degree in Visual Communication

An associate's degree in visual communication teaches students about the forms of visual media, including the Internet, newspapers, magazines, commercials, and advertisements. Students study topics such as graphic, web and multimedia design, animation, illustration, drawing, quick sketching, photography, page layout, Photoshop, publishing, and video production. They also learn about human responses to colors, textures, sounds, lettering and space, and are taught how to craft logos, billboards, commercials, and page designs for targeted audiences. Some programs may include an internship or portfolio project. Courses in this major may include:

  • Design principles
  • Digital imaging
  • Digital publishing
  • Media design
  • Computer illustration
  • Visual communication history

Bachelor's Degree in Visual Communication

A bachelor's degree program in visual communication allows students to hone their training in digital and graphic design, publications, photojournalism, illustration, animation, art, and other mediums. Subjects include aesthetics, technology, design history, materials, and marketing. Students learn how to incorporate graphs, diagrams, photos, words, and blank spaces into their work. Advanced photo imaging techniques and digital media skills are also taught. Students may take upper-level classes that focus on areas of art, design, or communications that include:

  • Typography
  • Narratives
  • Color concepts
  • Creative processes
  • Exhibition design
  • Message hierarchy

Popular Career Options

Visual media can encompass a wide range of career fields from film and television to advertising or graphic design. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a postsecondary degree is often needed to find entry-level work in visual media fields, such as graphic design or Web design. Graduates may find entry-level work in a variety of media involving magazine design, game design, Web design and printing. Other areas of employment include:

  • Advertising
  • Newspaper design
  • Exhibit design
  • Publishing
  • Illustration

Employment Information

Individuals with a bachelor's degree in visual communication may work as photographers, artists, animators, graphic designers, or publishers. According to the BLS, the average annual wages of these occupations in May 2018 were:

  • Salaried photographer, $42,770
  • Desktop publisher, $46,750
  • Graphic designer, $54,680
  • Multimedia artist and animator, $78,230
  • Advertising manager, $133,090

Students who obtain a visual media degree may work in fields such as film, advertising, and graphic design. Coursework may include both digital media production and drawing or painting.

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