What Degree Do You Need To Be a Graphic Designer?

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Those who have a knack for creating things and are huge lovers of design and art frequently turn to graphic design as their career choice. And who can blame them since it has become one of the most popular jobs in the IT industry?

Why is that? Well, it’s because people can make a great living doing it. It’s a well-paid job, plus it allows you to express your creative and artistic side. Still, bear in mind that there’s a lot of competition out there.

Sometimes being talented is not enough, and you have to focus on obtaining certain degrees in order to be hired by some major IT-related companies. If you’ve decided to start your career as a graphic designer, then pay attention to the things we’re about to mention in this article to see what it takes to become one.

What is necessary to become a great graphic designer?

Graphic designer qualifications

GED or high school diploma – If you’re still in high school, yet you’re interested in becoming a graphic designer, then maybe it would be smart to start preparing yourself for this career right now. 

What Degree Do You Need To Be a Graphic Designer

It may seem too soon, but it’s actually a perfect time to start working on it. Furthermore, having a GED or diploma is also something that a lot of employers nowadays require from their potential candidates.

So what can high school students do to work on their graphic designer skills? For example, they can see whether their current school offers any interesting programs related to it, or check out the nearest organizations that can provide them with lessons concerning website design, digital art, drawing, art history, etc.

These things can only benefit you because they will prepare you for various degree programs, as well as for the things you can expect in the future when it comes to this career. 

Furthermore, at some point, when you think you are ready, you can always apply for some freelance graphic design jobs just to embellish your portfolio as much as possible and at the same time work on your skills.

Try out online graphic design schools

One of the greatest advantages of graphic design (or any other IT-related career for that matter) is the fact that you can take classes remotely, from the comfort of your home.

Try out online graphic design schools

Fortunately, there are a plethora of excellent graphic design schools online that can help you develop your skillset in order to advance in your career. Furthermore, a majority of these schools usually offer two options. 

The first one is one-to-one, or in case your schedule is too hectic, you can opt for pre-recorded classes as well. Now, there are some people who do not think that online learning is for them, and they much prefer the traditional type of learning, however, what's great about the online version is the fact that it offers more flexibility, convenience, and at times, excellent networking opportunities. 

What else is necessary?

A post-secondary degree

If you wish to become a graphic designer, then it would also be recommendable to at least have a post-secondary degree from a high-quality program. Typically, people can acquire an associate's degree, which normally requires two years to finish.

The second option is a bachelor's degree, which takes four years to complete. Numerous colleges, as well as universities, offer great programs for students. What's also great is that out there you can also come across in-person and online alternatives.

Is there any difference between a bachelor's degree and an associate's degree? There actually is. Namely, the associate's degree program usually focuses only on graphic design skills and concepts, while the bachelor's degree program is a bit more thorough.

It demands students to take part in a more extensive curriculum. Besides the graphic design coursework, sometimes they are also obligated to take courses in mathematics, humanities, or sciences in order to obtain their degree. The topics that are usually covered in a graphic design curriculum involve: 

  • 2D and 3D design
  • Digital illustration and imaging
  • Logo and visual identity
  • Package design
  • Spatial dynamics
  • Webpage design
  • Color and design fundamentals
  • Graphic design theory and/or history
  • Motion graphics
  • Print publication and layouts
  • Typography

Master’s Degree

Even though a master's degree isn’t always necessary, it is for sure something that can help you perfect your skills, improve yourself in this field, and of course advance in your career. 

Just like with previous options, here you can also stumble upon different online schools, or if that doesn't seem like the best choice, you can also choose to attend classes in person.

It usually takes up to two years to complete everything. Moreover, you can also choose a master's degree if you're interested in exploring a specialization within this line of work. Furthermore, you can pursue a Master of Arts (MA) or you can opt for a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in this field.

What is the difference between these two? Master of Arts usually concentrates on advanced graphic design, as well as the art theory, while Master of Fine Arts allows students to prioritize their portfolio and studio work. 

The curriculum of both of these programs frequently has similar subjects with bachelor's degree programs, however, they provide students with more useful information and knowledge. The topics they cover include: 

  • Color theory
  • Design analysis and research
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Motion graphics
  • Typography
  • Visual communications and thinking
  • Design theory, history, and criticism
  • Design studio
  • Experience design

Always keep up with the industry trends

Even though all these schools and degrees that were mentioned here are extremely important, it’s crucial to remember that your graphic designer journey doesn’t end there. Bear in mind that you have to constantly work on yourself, even if you think that you’re the best one. So what does it mean? 

Always keep up with the industry trends graphic design

It means that you should continuously keep up with the industry trends, as well as technological advancements. You can do these things either all by yourself, or you can also attend professional training programs.

This is an industry that is constantly changing and evolving, and it's mostly due to people's preferences, wishes, and tastes. One day they may like one thing and then completely change their minds the next day.

That’s precisely one of the reasons why graphic designers can never rest. They must always be able to quickly adapt to every single change that arises in the IT industry, be constantly inventive, and unfortunately learn to work under pressure. 

Besides that, it would also be recommendable if they are following other industries, such as the music industry, film industry, fashion industry, etc. That's crucial if they want to always be on top when it comes to this.

Another thing that’s worth mentioning is that you must have the ability to work both independently and for/in a team. Besides that, you should be someone who is responsible, reliable, self-disciplined, never miss a deadline, adaptable, etc. 

What are the duties of a graphic designer?

There are a number of things that these individuals do, and below we will mention a couple of them. They normally include these tasks: 

  • Meeting with the art director or the client to talk about the project
  • Utilizing photo editing program, digital illustration, and layout software to develop interesting designs
  • Make visual elements such as appealing, original pictures, logos, and illustrations. All these things must be created in order to deliver a certain message to the audience
  • Designing layouts and choosing colors, photographs, and typefaces that they are going to be employing
  • Presenting design concepts to art directors and/or clients
  • If there are some changes that need to be made because that’s what clients and art directors want, then they must implement them
  • Reviewing designs for any potential errors before publishing them

As it was stated at the beginning, graphic designers are usually very creative people who oftentimes combine technology and art to communicate their ideas by using pictures and layouts of sites. 

What are the duties of a graphic designer

Furthermore, they can employ various design elements to showcase their artistic side and accomplish the particular decorative or artistic effect. Moreover, they frequently collaborate with both pictures and text.

They must choose the font, type, color, size, and length of headlines, text, and headings and must also find a way to combine text and images when they are working on a certain web page.

In case they are utilizing text in layouts, they must work closely with writers who pick the words and then decide whether they will be placed into the lists, paragraphs, and/or tables. Precisely through the use of color, text, and photographs, they can alter statistical data and turn it into visual diagrams and graphics which will make complex ideas much more understandable and accessible. 

Since graphic designers are working on logos and brochures, they must always collaborate closely with the marketing team to see what needs to be done to make something more appealing and eye-catching to the consumers. 

Final words: what degree do you need to be a graphic designer

If you’re looking for something that’s creative, dynamic, yet potentially very lucrative, then this might just be a perfect choice for you. 

However, as you can see, you need to put a lot of time and effort to be and stay successful.

About the author 

Peter Keszegh

Most people write this part in the third person but I won't. You're at the right place if you want to start or grow your online business. When I'm not busy scaling up my own or other people' businesses, you'll find me trying out new things and discovering new places. Connect with me on Facebook, just let me know how I can help.

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