What Can You Do With a Graphic Design Degree?

what can you do with graphic design degree

The road to achieving career success looks different for everyone. After some thought, you’re starting to realize that pursuing a degree in graphic design might be the right path for you. But before you commit the time and money it takes to acquire a formal education, you want to know what your job prospects will look like after graduation.

So what can you do with a graphic design degree, anyway?

Most people think there is a single answer: become a graphic designer, of course! But the truth is that the options are much more vast than that! The bulk of learning the trade is focused on design concepts and skills but there are still a host of non-design skills you’ll need to learn if you want to be successful in the field. Once you master those skills, your graphic design career options will begin to unfold before your eyes!

10 careers for graphic design degree holders

We used real-time job analysis software from Burning-Glass.com to examine more than 7,500 job postings calling for candidates with a graphic design degree.* Below you’ll find a breakdown of the 10 most common positions we identified in our analysis.

The information included will provide you with an accurate picture of what each job entails, including the outlook and average earning potential for all.** Click each job title for a more in-depth look from the U.S. Department of Labor.

1. Graphic designers

  • Develop graphics and layouts for product illustrations, company logos and websites
  • Review final layouts, suggest improvements if needed and make necessary changes
  • Maintain archive of images, photos and previous work samples

Median annual salary: $44,830

Projected growth (2012-2022): 7 percent

2. Web developers

  • Use authoring or script languages and managing tools to design, build and maintain websites
  • Evaluate code to ensure that it is valid, is properly structured and meets industry standards
  • Identify and correct problems uncovered by testing or user feedback

Median annual salary: $63,160

Projected growth (2012-2022): 20 percent

3. Art directors

  • Confer with clients to determine objectives, budget, background information and presentation approaches
  • Work with department heads to discuss client requirements and presentation concepts and to coordinate creative activities
  • Work with creative directors to develop design solutions

Median annual salary: $83,000

Projected growth (2012-2022): 5 percent

4. Multimedia artists/animators

  • Design complex graphics and animation using computer animation or modeling programs
  • Apply story development, directing, cinematography and editing to animation
  • Develop briefs, brochures, web pages, promotional products and technical illustrations for use in products and manuals

Median annual salary: $64,470

Projected growth (2012-2022): 6 percent

5. Marketing specialists

  • Collect and analyze data on customer demographics, preferences, needs and buying habits
  • Gather data on competitors, analyzing their prices, sales and method of marketing distribution
  • Measure the effectiveness of marketing, advertising and communications programs and strategies

Median annual salary: $60,800

Projected growth (2012-2022): 22 percent

6. Software quality assurance testers

  • Design test plans, scenarios, scripts or procedures
  • Identify, analyze and document problems with program function, output, online screen or content
  • Participate in product design reviews to provide input on functional requirements, product designs, schedules or potential complications

Median annual salary: $83,340

Projected growth (2012-2022): 7 percent

7. Software applications developers

  • Responsible for design, development and modification of software systems
  • Analyze user needs and software requirements to achieve a time and cost-effective design
  • Supervise the work of programmers, technologists and technicians

Median annual salary: $92,660

Projected growth (2012-2022): 22 percent

8. Public relations specialists

  • Prepare or edit organizational publications for internal and external audiences
  • Consult with advertising agencies or staff to arrange promotional campaigns in all types of media for products, organizations or individuals
  • Confer with production to produce or coordinate implementation of advertisements or promotions

Median annual salary: $54,940

Projected growth (2012-2022): 12 percent

9. Marketing managers

  • Identify, develop or evaluate marketing strategies
  • Formulate, direct and coordinate marketing activities and policies to promote products and services
  • Consult with buying personnel to gain advice regarding the products expected to be in demand

Median annual salary: $123,220

Projected growth (2012-2022): 12 percent

10. Commercial and industrial designers

  • Work with various departments to establish and evaluate design concepts for manufactured products
  • Prepare sketches of ideas, detailed drawings, illustrations, artwork or blueprints
  • Direct and coordinate the fabrication of models or samples and the drafting of working drawings

Median annual salary: $62,370

Projected growth (2012-2022): 5 percent

Take the next step ...

So what can you do with a graphic design degree? More than you thought!

You’re now aware that earning a graphic design degree doesn’t mean you’re obligated to be a graphic designer for the rest of your life. A formal education will help you acquire the proper skills and experience that can open doors to a wide array of career opportunities.

There are also a handful of specialties within the graphic design field that your degree could lead to. To learn more, check out this list of 8 Types of Graphic Design Jobs You May Not Know About … Yet!


*Source: Burning-Glass.com (Analysis of 7,564 jobs that require graphic design degree, Aug. 14, 2013 - Aug. 13, 2014)

**All information taken from the U.S. Department of Labor. Salary data represents national averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. Employment conditions in your area may vary.


External links provided on Rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced.

Jess is a Content Marketing Specialist at Collegis Education. She researches and writes student-focused content on behalf of Rasmussen College. As a trained and published poet, she loves discovering new ways to use her writing as a tool to further the education of others.

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