Media arts programs offered at the two-year associate's degree and certificate levels typically train students for entry-level careers. However, four-year bachelor's degree programs provide in-depth study of the interaction of various media and can prepare students to pursue more advanced positions in the field. Programs usually combine classroom discussion with hands-on training in software and other tools used in media arts professions. To get into these programs you need a high school diploma or GED. Continuing education is encouraged in this field, as upgrades and advances in technologies remain constant.
Certificate in Media Arts
Certificate programs in this field of study often focus on digital media and usually vary in length, with some lasting as little as eight weeks. While enrolled, students primarily practice working with software and tools used in the industry. They may also learn about different design methods and principles, and how to select an appropriate digital platform to meet a project goal. Different course topics students can encounter include:
- Digital graphics
- Web design
- Digital photography
- Digital communication
Associate's Degree in Media Arts
Similar to certificate programs, this degree program tends to focus on the technical skills required for entry-level employment in the field. Most programs provide practical training with industry-standard software and computer applications. These programs may also provide a solid foundation for students intending to advance to a bachelor's degree program in the media arts or a related field. Course topics generally include:
- Digital media fundamentals
- Design theory
- Digital imaging
- Graphic design
- Web design software
Bachelor's Degree in Media Arts
Students study how different technologies are being blended together in modern media, including the application of digital media in the fine arts and the use of various multimedia technologies in film. Interactive media, such as applications for mobile phones and websites, is also examined. In addition to general education courses, media arts students take classes such as:
- Digital arts
- Visual communications
Continuing Education Information
Those working in the media arts may find that continuing education courses are useful for keeping up with rapidly changing trends and technologies used in the field. Sometimes, agencies host such courses in order to upgrade and update their employees' skills. Media artists interested in specializing their skills may consider pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in an area such as film production or graphic design.
Popular Career Options
Digital media arts certificate programs and associate's degrees provide the skills necessary to pursue entry-level employment in areas such as digital imaging, graphics, multimedia and Web design. Some career options include:
- Graphic designer
- Web designer
- Digital photographer
- Multimedia designer
Since bachelor's degree programs in media arts explore a wider variety of media topics, the career possibilities for graduates are diverse. In addition to the previously mentioned careers, some options for bachelor's degree holders include:
- Game designer
- Video producer
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Media arts graduates may find employment with graphic or multimedia design agencies, advertising agencies and marketing firms. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), multimedia artists and animators earned a median annual salary of $63,970 in 2015. The BLS projected that employment for these workers is anticipated to grow by 6% between 2014 and 2024.
If you are interested in media arts, there are a variety of programs at the certificate, associate, and bachelor's level to choose from. Graduates of these programs are trained in the technical skills they will need for related careers through hands-on and in class training.