From local television commercials to feature films, free weekly newspaper layouts to ad pages in glossy magazines, the abilities learned in graphic arts programs are put to use in all walks of life. A graphic arts degree can help you get your foot in the door at media studios, ad agencies, commercial design firms, and a plethora of other industries that need beautiful images to help get their business done.

What Can You Gain with Graphic Arts Degrees?
If you're interested in a graphic art degree, don't forget to determine the direction you'd like to go with your studies. Graphic arts programs tend to have expansive boundaries, including everything from photography to digital design to metalwork. The content of your graphic arts degree will be largely up to you.

Vincent Martinez, a working artist and elementary graphic arts teacher in Austin, Texas, recommends graphic arts degrees for the variety of experiences they give budding artists. “You're forced to work in all different mediums, painting, printmaking, digital imaging, foundation sculpture, screenprinting, lithography, illustration, web design, etc. You also get to work alongside lots of people with the same goals you have, workshop your ideas, install your first shows together, and build a community of fellow artists that can stick with you throughout your career.”

Coursework Expectations in Graphic Arts Programs
The range of graphic arts degrees is enormous. In some states, entire universities are dedicated to providing a quality education in many different branches of the visual arts. A general graphic arts degree often contains semester-long primers in numerous avenues of the arts, culminating in a specialization in the discipline that the student finds the most rewarding or comfortable.

Here's a short list of customary courses that students in graphic arts programs can expect:

  • Layout Design
  • Color Theory
  • Branding and Identity
  • Typography
  • Web Page Design Principles
  • Flash Animation

Your graphic arts degree program may last anywhere from 18 months to four years, depending on the degree you're pursuing and the amount of work you're willing to put in per semester. An associate of arts graphic design degree may take as little as three or four terms to complete, whereas a bachelor of fine arts or communication design degree can take 48 months or more.

Graphic Arts Degrees and the Job Market
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compiled an expansive bank of employment and salary figures for various occupations around the United States in 2009. They found that the mean annual wage for all jobs in the US comes in at $43,460, which can translate to a quite comfortable lifestyle. The same data produced an average yearly salary of $51,720 for professionals in arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations, which is the industry supersector into which most graduates of graphic arts programs find themselves once they leave school. Here are just a few individual positions in this field and their corresponding annual salary averages:

  • Graphic designers: $47,820
  • Fine artists: $50,630
  • Multi-media artists and animators: $62,810
  • Art directors: $91,520

The list goes on. If you've ever considered a graphic arts degree, spend some energy researching the right school for you. Find your way to a rewarding future with a graphic arts degree.

Kelli Smith writes about colleges and universities, community colleges, and online schools. Find schools offering a graphic arts degree at www.CollegesandUniversities.org.

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