Graphic Design Degree Outlook
Graphic designers basically are people who have learned how to communicate visually. For this reason, many colleges call their graphic design programs, "Visual Communications." These designers plan, analyze, and create visual solutions to communication problems, so they find the most effective way to get messages across to the general public through print, digital or electronic media or film. They use typography, color, photography, illustration, animation, and more to get the job done.
Graphic design encompasses a broad field, but students who enter college to study graphic design are expected to touch on all aspects. So, a four-year degree can seem to pass quickly, because each course builds upon previous courses to climax in a final class that centers on portfolio preparation. During this process, students can learn their strengths and weaknesses. This is why some graphic designers change in midstream to focus on a specialized skill such as animation, illustration, or interior design.
Graphic design offers opportunities to work in corporate environments, at home alone and everywhere in between. Work conditions also vary widely. A designer who works in a corporate environment or in a 9-5 studio will experience less stress than a graphic designer who owns a business or who works for a design studio. The latter situations often call on the designer to work longer or unconventional hours and to deal with more people on a face-to-face basis.
The problem for most designers who want to work alone is the time needed to spend on gaining clients and the money spent on computer equipment and software. Therefore, many graphic designers often enter other design fields or even leave graphic design entirely to work in another occupation. Burn-out for all graphic designers is widespread for two reasons: either the designer becomes bored with a cut-and-paste environment, or the stress level becomes overwhelming.
Although many people could enter the graphic design field without a college degree, a bachelor's or associate degree in graphic design usually is required by most design firms or corporate establishments. The reason behind this requirement is that those employers are seeking people who have an affinity to working on teams, rather than alone. Teamwork is essential in many design situations, where the designer is just one cog on the production wheel, and a student learns how to work with other individuals on teams in most graphic design schools.
With that said, a designer may want to pursue higher education in graphic design and achieve a master's degree in design theory. This degree would allow the designer to enter the workforce as a person skilled in an area that often cannot be obtained in a work environment. Advanced problem-solving skills are highly desired in the workplace. An advanced degree would help the student reach this goal, whereas the graphic designer in the workplace has little time to learn how to apply advanced design theories. Plus, this advanced degree would allow the student to teach once a burn out level is ever reached. This advanced degree also provides the graphic design student with writing skills, tools that can prove advantageous to the designer who wants to write books or articles.
Graphic designers who are well-read, who are interested in current affairs, and who have a broad liberal arts education and experience in marketing and business management will experience the highest levels of success in this field in the future. Many tedious or lower-level design jobs are now outsourced to foreign countries, as the cost to keep these jobs in-house has become prohibitive in some cases. A person who can attain the highest and most well-rounded graphic design education will be able to seek higher-level jobs, where job security and satisfaction is rated higher as well.