Is Graphic Design a Good Major? Finding Your Answer

color swatches, color pencils, cup of coffee and color wheels

For a visually oriented, creative person like yourself, a graphic design career has always sounded appealing. Artistic elements that go back through human history mixed with the tech-savvy shine of this century—it’s the best of both worlds!

But college is a big investment, and as much as you’d like to experiment, you aren’t interested in wasting time and money on a major that doesn’t lead to a good job. After all, what good is a “cool” job if it isn’t really a feasible way to make a living?

So as you’re making your mind up about becoming a graphic design major, it’s natural to have some questions: What will I learn in a graphic design program? What is the graphic design job outlook? What is an average graphic design salary? What can I expect on the job?

We’re here to help you answer those questions and more so you can determine if graphic design a good major for you.

Everything you want to know about a graphic design major

Join us as we answer some frequently asked questions about all things related to a graphic design major. When you’re done reading, you should have a better idea if this is the right education path to pursue.

What do you learn in a graphic design program?

It only make sense to start by taking a look at the training itself. As a graphic design major, you can expect to acquire a diverse skillset, including fundamentals like typography and color theory and cutting-edge skills like 3D imagery and UX (user experience) design.

A good graphic design program will include extensive training in up-to-date technology like Adobe Creative Cloud® software and will incorporate plenty of hands-on projects. This allows graduates to walk away with a robust portfolio with professional-caliber design work.

What are some common graphic design courses?

As a potential graphic design major, you’re probably curious about the actual coursework you’ll encounter. Most Graphic Design programs include a diverse curriculum that provide graduates a solid base on which to build a lasting career.

Here’s a taste of the types of graphic design courses found in many programs:

  • Sketching for Designers
  • Audio/Video Editing
  • Elements and Principles of Graphic Design
  • The Art of Business and Design
  • Responsive Web Design

This is just scratching the surface of the fascinating classes that you could take as a graphic design major. Some programs, like the one at Rasmussen College, prepare students to earn in-demand industry certifications and are offered in a convenient, fully online format.

What jobs can you get with a graphic design major?

You may assume that, as a graphic design major, you would only have one option after graduation—becoming a graphic designer. But you’d be mistaken. There are actually several related roles that this type of training prepares you for.

Here are just a few graphic design jobs that could be yours:

  • Visual designer
  • Animator
  • UX designer
  • Production artist
  • Digital designer
  • Motion graphic designer
  • Art director
  • Web designer
  • Video editor

The good news is that the dynamic curriculum included in a graphic design program can prepare you for a multitude of creative careers. And you don’t have to have your heart set on a particular position before becoming a graphic design major either—you can wait to see which area interests you most.

What are some perks of graphic design careers?

The obvious appeal for you is the creative nature of this career path. But there are some other lesser-known perks that graphic designers enjoy.

  • The versatility: Almost every organization could utilize the skills of a graphic designer. Whether it’s a new logo, a product package, an informational brochure, a sales presentation or a website mock-up, companies of all types and sizes need creative professionals to bring their ideas to life. This allows for plenty of versatility—both in work settings and the types of projects.
  • The growth potential: You’re now aware that with a graphic design major under your belt, you’ll be prepared to take on a variety of roles. But the field is constantly in flux, which means there will always be new tools and technologies to master as you advance in your career. If you’re willing to learn and grow as you go, you could work your way up to become a creative director or specialize in a niche area such as UX design or animation.
  • The options of work environment: Graphic designers have the ability to choose from a variety of work settings: in-house, in an agency or freelance. That means whether you’d prefer the fast-paced environment of an agency, the stability of an in-house role or the freedom of a freelance operation, you can design a career that fits your needs.

What is the graphic design job outlook?

Now that you know some appealing aspects of graphic design jobs, you’re probably wondering what the job market is like. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a slower-than-average growth rate projected for graphic design jobs in general through 2029, but that’s not quite the full story.1

The truth is that this dreary outlook largely stems from a projected decline in design jobs with newspapers, periodicals, and book and directory publishers. While the future of print designers looks dim, digital design remains a bright spot.

What is an average graphic design salary?

You likely still have one lingering question: how much do graphic designers make? According to the BLS, the median annual wage for graphic designers in 2019 was $52,110.1 This is higher than the national average for all occupations, which came in at $39,810.

It’s important to note that a graphic designer salary will certainly vary based on experience, location, work setting and skillset. The industry in which you’re employed will also play a role in compensation. For example, the BLS reports that advertising and public relations services tend to offer a higher salary than newspaper and print publishers.1

Are you cut out to be a graphic design major?

For a naturally creative person like you, there’s a lot to love about a career in design. If the information above has you feeling more confident than ever that you’re meant to be a graphic design major, it’s time to start researching your educational options.

Learn more about our contemporary online degree options in our article “7 Things You Didn’t Know About the Rasmussen College Graphic Design Programs.”

1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [accessed September 2020] Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.

Adobe Creative Cloud is a registered trademark of Adobe, Inc.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in 2018. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2020.

About the author

Callie Malvik

Callie is the Content Manager at Collegis Education, overseeing blog content on behalf of Rasmussen University. She is passionate about creating quality resources that empower others to improve their lives through education.

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