Graphic designers employ an extensive knowledge of design skills — as well as creativity — to create visual concepts that cause consumers to stop, watch, or listen. Their work involves the combining of art and technology to communicate ideas. They help to make companies recognizable by helping create a brand for their clients. Graphic designers use color, images, materials, and mediums to present a particular ethos or identity, which the company will use in its advertising and promotions. Ultimately, graphic designers are creative and technology-savvy individuals who are often responsible for creating the ads, magazine covers, websites, and other images that leave lasting impressions.
Graphic Design Course Work Basics
The graphic design curriculum at top accredited online colleges will teach students the foundations of design, including typography and color. Classes may cover topics such as design techniques, branding, digital imaging, photography, and the history of graphic design. Aside from classes in design and technology, graphic design majors should take classes in business, including marketing and production; much of their work will involve close interaction with supervisors and clients alike. These business classes will help them develop an understanding of how to navigate the corporate world. Common courses may include the following:
- Foundations of Graphic Design: This course provides an overview of the visual principles of graphic design. Students will learn how to use graphic design to convey meaning, generate and develop unique concepts, and tell stories through their design.
- Brand Identity: Students will learn how to think strategically about a company’s mission. They will learn about the ways in which a company can express its identity through language and materials.
- Color: Students will learn how to use color as a tool. They will learn about color relationships and develop an understanding of the meaning of color in the context of design.
- Typography: Students will likely take more than one class on typography, in which they will learn about the history and anatomy of type and experiment with different forms of typography.
- Interaction Design: This course will highlight the current concepts, methods, and technologies employed in the design of interactive media. Students will learn how to define user and site requirements, manage information, and design visual interfaces that are accessible.
Students will complete several projects throughout their course of study that may include creating corporate logos and websites. These classes will help them develop their own voice as designers and artists. Most graphic design programs culminate in a final capstone project that taps into their strengths and interests. They will also prepare a portfolio of their designs from class projects and internships that demonstrates their competence. A strong portfolio is weighed heavily among employers.
Careers for the Graphic Design Graduate
Most graphic designers hold a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field. However, some graphic designers may pursue a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in graphic design if they wish to teach at the college level. After receiving their degree from top online colleges for graphic design, students may apply for entry-level positions with advertising firms, design firms, media publications, and corporations. Here, they will receive feedback from experienced graphic designers, as well as clients, to develop and create distinctive designs. Many graduates become freelancers who take on projects with various companies.
Eventually, design consultants may advance to managerial roles as chief designers and creative directors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage of graphic designers was $48,690 in 2011. However, individuals should note that BLS figures are subject to variation; the individual’s qualifications, as well as the size and success of the design firm they work for, will impact their salary.