Become a Graphic Designer

Graphic Design Degree Online

It's no secret that the world is largely influenced by trends, whether they're in the media or in the products and consumption habits we embody on a daily basis. Regardless of the form, one inescapable truth is that brands and messaging have become an integral part of our daily life in nearly all arenas.

In our increasingly message-driven world, the importance of strong visual design can't be overstated. In an age of information oversaturation due largely to the Internet and the proliferation of content it facilitates, brands, governments and just about anyone else looking to get a point across are leaning more heavily than ever on visual messaging and imagery to stand out above the rest of the noise.

Enter the graphic designer. More than just an illustrator, these professionals are responsible for taking a company's message, mission and personality and distilling it into a visual identity that is relatable, consumable and memorable. For this reason, graphic designers embody a unique and particular blend of artistic talent, conceptual design and broad-scale psychology to achieve the most effective results. 

Are Online Graphic Designer Programs for You?

Here are some things to consider when choosing a graphic designer program.

Graphic designers require a significant amount of formal education across a variety of topics. In addition to the artistic ability required by this job, candidates should also expect to spend a significant amount of time learning various design programs and other new mediums, whether it be Photoshop or another similar program. 

Unlike visual artists or others who come from a strictly fine arts background, graphic designers are more directly involved with the corporate and messaging side of the field. The goal of the graphic designer isn't inspiration or expression, but rather communication and messaging. As such, graphic designer training differs from that experienced in other artistic fields due to its grounding in practical applications. This commonly requires background in psychology, marketing, advertising and other essential business disciplines.

Educational requirements notwithstanding, graphic design is a field that commonly puts emphasis on experience and demonstrated ability. For this reason, most graphic designers are required to have an extensive portfolio of previous work that can be shown to prospective employers. This is especially important for those designers who work on a freelance basis.

Graphic Designer Career Paths and Potential Salaries

Graphic designers are becoming an increasingly important part of the business landscape thanks to the ever-growing emphasis being placed on visual messaging. As such, these professionals can often pursue career paths along multiple trajectories.

Graphic Designer[i]

Graphic designers, whether they work for a specific company or on a contract basis, all aspire to the same goal - help a company, government or other entity translate its core message and value proposition into a visual format that is accessible and relatable. 

  • 2012 median annual salary: $44,150
  • Job growth through 2022: 7 percent (slower than average)
  • Entry-level education: Bachelor's degree

Art Director[ii]

Newspapers, magazines and other periodicals employ art directors to establish and maintain a consistent visual style for the publication. This can involve everything from illustrating articles to managing layout and selecting typeface. Art directors are responsible for conceptualizing a visual theme for a given publication or product, and then implementing that goal throughout the project's lifespan. 

  • 2012 median annual salary: $80,880
  • Job growth through 2022: 3 percent (slower than average)
  • Entry-level education: Bachelor's degree

Web Developer[iii]

Unlike other graphic design-related professions, Web developers work specifically within the confines of digital media. This means they optimize content for online consumption, from designing page layouts to developing user interfaces. Web developers also have a much more extensive background in coding and programming than other types of designers.

  • 2012 median annual salary: $62,500
  • Job growth through 2022: 20 percent (faster than average)
  • Entry-level education: Associate's degree