The field of design is broad and complex, with several branches of specializations. The majority of students choose to start their design degree with a core curriculum as they mold and aim for their professional and academic goals. Design is present everywhere – physical forms, photographs, illustrations, virtual spaces, and graphics are evident in our daily lives. Design degrees explore the diversity of the creative field or industry and enable students to develop strong artistic capabilities and knowledge while discovering their expertise.
Enrolling in a design-related degree program is challenging but rewarding. It takes three to five years to finish the program. The set of coursework found in the design degree equips students with an ideal combination of theoretical and practical background and skills essential to the field of design. Design majors enroll courses in different areas of study, such as studio art, modeling, typography, art history, computer programming, drafting, and many more things.
For students who have a creative flair, a design degree could open up several career opportunities to put their musical knowledge and skills to use commercially. There are a variety of disciplines to choose from – graphic design, fashion design, game design, interior design, or web design.
Design degrees tend to have fewer discussions or lectures compared to other academic degrees such as History, English, and Science. Students need to attend plenty of workshops, design conferences and seminars where they will be taught in an exclusive group, discover new skills, and collaborate with other design majors, integrating a much more practical and hands-on approach to learning.
Design as a Degree
Design degree programs can either be wide, narrow, or a combination of both when it comes to its concept of learning. There are several specializations to choose, including animation, computer game design, furniture design, theatre design, graphic design, product design, textiles, fashion design, and jewelry design, among others.
Each college and university have a different approach to its design degree programs. Key components of the bachelor’s degree program include graphic layout, computer-aided design, 3D materials and technologies, typography, and film making. Design degree programs teach students the fundamentals of design—from learning how to draw with accuracy through the computer or by hand up to design theories. Some schools concentrate on the detailed understanding of design theories, while others emphasize the practical elements of design.
Types of Design Degree Programs
Associate’s Degree in Design
Most vocational schools and community colleges offer 60-credit hour programs in Design. Depending on the students’ pace of learning, they can complete this degree in two years. This degree can help students prepare for an immediate career in the design industry or prepare them for a bachelor’s degree. Students will learn introductory foundational background in essential visual art techniques, and they will gain in-depth knowledge of art history and concepts. The set of coursework typically consists of liberal arts and humanities areas of study.
Some schools offer advanced studies in a variety of Design fields such as Graphic Design or Fine Arts and Multimedia. As a result, students will have the chance to build their portfolios that are key to landing careers. With an associate’s degree, students who finish this degree program are qualified to work as a freelance graphic artist, printing technician, multimedia animator, or even a photographer’s assistant. The courses that will be taken in the associate’s degree program includes computer-aided drafting, introduction to art history, drawing and illustration, design principles, sculpture, and painting, among others.
Bachelor’s Degree in Design
A Bachelor’s in Design provides an introductory background in visual media, art techniques, and art history as well as more extensive learning of the students’ chosen area of specialization. This degree program is typically completed in a minimum of four years depending on the students’ education timeline, with 120-credit hours required for completion. Fine Arts majors will have the opportunity to refine their techniques, familiarity with human anatomy and inanimate things, and an appreciation for art history in watershed format. Graphic Arts majors will learn creative and professional ways in technology, best practices, and concepts.
A similar setup is applicable for students majoring in photography, fashion design, animation, video game design, publication layout, interior decorating, or any other subdisciplines of the design field. The majority of subdisciplines provide practical skills and theoretical knowledge to develop students’ skills and capabilities. Students will build the portfolios of their works that will be ultimately shown to potential employers for a thriving career in the field of design. The bachelor’s degree in Design is a practical choice that will provide students the immediate access to several career opportunities. Sample courses under this degree program include 3D drawing, art, and new media, sculptures and ceramics, color and design, basics of design computer, integration of art and design, and foundation in art history among others.
Master’s Degree in Design
A master’s degree program in Design is a suitable option for students who want to become art directors, art historian, restoration specialist, or a museum curator. It is also the right choice for students who wish to become professors in the university or an art instructor. This one to two-year-degree programs will immerse students to become fully equipped with the knowledge and skills in the chosen area of concentration. A master’s degree program prepares students’ way of becoming a Ph.D. student in Design. Courses under this level include critical theory, contemporary issues in art, advanced studies in art history, typographic methods, and digital photography editing, to name a few.
Doctorate in Design
Students who wish to work in the research field or become educators in universities or colleges have the option to earn a Ph.D. in Design. Also, it is valuable for people who are interested in working in advance institutions such as foundations, museum administrative offices, reputable art associations, societies, or art collectives. They can also become advisers to a mentor to complete a research or dissertation work on a specific topic.
Difference Between Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) in Design
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design is solely intended for students who want to become art professionals. This degree is integrated with a range of humanities and liberal arts studies.
The Bachelor of Science in Design is suitable for students who intend to combine design and drafting skills for a career in the architecture field. Moreover, it provides educational preparation for advanced studies.
Design is a vast field that choosing a concentration can be challenging. The array of choices for design is immense, and while design degree programs offer opportunities in the future, it can be tough to choose which is best for you.
Typography and Calligraphy
Students who love typography are ideal people who choose this type of specialization. They can earn excellence income by selling customized pieces or fonts, creating small print projects such as greeting cards, wall decors, and other print business. Also, they can design typefaces for applications and websites. Take as many courses related to this design medium and hone skills by constant practice. Students can even earn income while they are still studying by making custom work for friends, families, or clients.
Mobile Application Design
Today, technology has undergone tremendous changes in the last 20 years. Several mobile applications are developed daily. This is an excellent specialization to consider for designers who want to earn a good income from this industry and have an in-depth interest in mobile applications. There is no need to program these designs through complex algorithms or code; however, students must only learn user interface design to venture this field. There are several online tutorials to help students improve their craft for a career in mobile app design and to keep them updated with the latest trends in mobile application designing.
Print Media and Publication
Print designs, marketing, and digital artwork are still popular nowadays, despite the world going digital. They come from numerous applications such as marketing campaigns, newspapers, print advertisements, flyers, and magazine layouts. Students who earn this specialization can work either as a freelance print designer or in a publication company.
Film and Video
Students who have a passion for video editing, film making, or even artistic productions can significantly benefit by taking up a concentration in film and video. They learn how to use technical software applications to create promotional content from video footages. Furthermore, they hone their skills in editing clips or videos that trims down footages into segments, frames for audio, and organizing raw content into a masterpiece.
With the increasing demand for online presence, iconography can be a challenging yet lucrative field. Icon design is essential for mobile applications, products, and website applications; therefore, high demand for such specialization is an excellent option to consider. It requires expertise in photography and fine art, integrating the authenticity and creativity of icon designs.
User Interface Animation
Students who love animation and user interface animation can consider this type of specialization. It is one of the most challenging specializations of design that requires constant upkeep and creativity. However, working with movie production or even with mobile application user interface design can help students land in lucrative career opportunities.
Furniture, color schemes, functionality, aesthetics, lighting, or even flooring, revolves the career of students who choose this concentration. Their work mostly consists of all the elements that make up a room or a building. Students learn how to sketch their ideas or use design software applications and later on work with engineers, builders, and architects who bring their masterpiece to life.
Students who love to design accessories and new clothing choose fashion design as their primary area of study. They learn how to sketch their designs on papers. Also, they know the textiles, color combinations, and raw materials to determine the final product of their collection. They study fashion trends by attending fashion shows and designer events as well as review magazines to gain inspiration.
Design Degree Program: Online or Traditional?
There are several associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in design online, which you can enroll, whether full-time or part-time. Online design colleges or universities are popular options for working professionals since it is more convenient to fit their coursework around their tight schedule. Programs like multimedia design, animation, and web design can be completed 100% because of the nature of the coursework. As such, learning materials and design assignments can be completed online. On the other hand, some specializations involving lithography, woodworking, fashion design, and painting require on-campus attendance since there is a need to access design studios and materials to get the most out of this degree.
Enrolling in the traditional on-campus learning setup is advised for students who need more guidance and structure while making most out of the resources found in the academic institutions. Online design degree programs are suitable for individuals who are independent self-starters and motivate themselves despite handling additional responsibilities to earn their degrees on their own. Another advantage of taking the design degree in a completely online format is students will likely to save money by eliminating additional expenses from transportation, housing, art studio fees, parking, and meals from their budget.
Financing Your Design Education
Earning a Design degree does not have to be impossible and scary, especially if there are several opportunities to finance students’ design education.
The first step towards searching for financial aid assistance should be applying for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or known as FAFSA. Design students can ask for financial help through FFEL Loans, Stafford Loans, PLUS Loans, Direct Loans, and other private companies that offer loan services for education assistance. These loans must be settled within six months after earning the degree with interest and as such, settling these accounts will immediately save students the inconvenience of paying heavily rated fees.
On the other hand, numerous financial aid support opportunities do not require repayment. The U.S. federal government offers more than 1,000 federal grant programs such as FSEOG, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants, and PELL. Students may consider a federal work-study program (FWS) to earn income for on-campus job opportunities and pay their education expenses. Each academic institution has dedicated Financial Aid Support Systems that readily helps students regarding their tuition fees and education expenses.
Money-saving scholarships, whether merit-based or need-based, are commonly recognized as gift aid or grants for providing free tuition assistance that doesn’t require to be repaid. They are one of the major tuition resources funding that offers millions of dollars to deserving students each year. Several organizations offer them; ask your school’s financial aid office for design-related scholarships for you.
Design Career Pathways, Information, and Outlook
Choosing a design degree can open several opportunities for different creative career pathways with a lucrative income. The majority of the people associate design degree holders as sketch artists, painters, furniture makers, printmakers, sculptors, graphic designers, musicians, and jewelry makers.
However, the options are not limited to these fields as there are other high-paying careers such as web designers, interior designers, multimedia artists, industrial designers, art directors, and screenwriters. Therefore, a design-related degree is a wise investment for anyone looking for unleashing their creative capacity.
A highly popular design-related career is Graphic Design. These people have the talent to create designs for product illustrations, websites, marketing materials, and brand identities using computer software applications such as Adobe Creative Suite. They work independently as freelancers, for a company or in an agency. Graphic designers earn a median pay of $50,370 per year or $24.21 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Interior designers work with interior spaces in rooms, residential homes, corporate buildings, condominiums, coffee shops, restaurants, and other establishments. Their work mainly revolves on flooring, lighting, color schemes, furniture, interiors, and other elements of design that make up a room or building. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, interior designers earn %53,370 per year or $25.66 per hour, with 66,500 jobs generated since 2016.
Art directors communicate and manage a team of design professionals that work in various settings such as public relations agency, magazines, advertising, or internet-based publications. They earn $92,780 per year or $44.60 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
People who love the fashion industry and love to make their collections enjoy working as a fashion designer. They provide sample garments to agents, stylists, and creative directors in the hopes of showcasing their collections in magazines and publications. They work in apparel companies, design firms, wholesale, or retail manufacturing establishments, or their clothing line. Fashion designers earn $72,720 per year or $34.96 per hour.
People who work as animators create animations and special effects for video games, movies, series and other forms of 2D or 3D media. They work with a team of artists and animators to bring their ideas to reality using computer software applications. They earn $72,520 per year or $34.87 per hour.
Various design-related degrees could establish a career in the following industries:
- Craft/Fine Arts
- Industrial Design
- Floral Design
- Game Design
- Web Design
- Marketing and Branding
- Film & Television Production
In this era of computers, these top modern-day Design specializations are on high demand:
- UX (User Experience) Design
- Product Design
- UI (User Interface) Design
- Video Game Design
- Multimedia Art & Animation
- Web Design
- Exhibit Design
10 Common Design Occupations
Salary: $50,370 per year
Education Requirement: In the past, becoming a graphic designer required a unique portfolio only. Nowadays, clients and employers look for candidates who are well-educated and hold at least a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design programs. However, those with a bachelor’s degree in a different field may gain graphic design skills from enrolling to courses in art and design. A creative portfolio is still expected and will help you get hired for the job. To keep up with the fast-changing technology and keep a well-rounded skill set, graphic designers acquire certifications and training as well.
Salary: $53,370 per year
Education Requirement: While a degree is not a strong need to become an interior designer, most interior design companies prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree. Degree programs in interior design or a program in a related field with coursework in computer-aided design (CAD), drawing, lighting design, and visual design are acceptable. Prospective interior design students may consult with either the Council for Interior Design Accreditation or the National Association of Schools of Art and Design for accredited design schools and institutions.
Salary: $72,720 per year
Education Requirement: The competitive world of the fashion industry now typically requires a minimum of an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in fashion design. These programs may be combined with another major such as marketing, business, or fashion merchandising. Fashion designers are expected to be well-versed with textiles, fabrics, ornamentation, and keep abreast with fashion trends. Hands-on training and internships are essential in learning skills and acquiring valuable experiences. Aspirant fashion designers looking for accredited schools and institutions with top tier fashion design programs may see them on the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) list.
Salary: $50,584 per year
Education Requirement: The education needed to be a film or video editor starts with a bachelor’s degree. Aside from experience and industry connections, film or video editors get into the industry because they have a bachelor’s degree in film studies, video production, communications technology, or audiovisual communication. They begin their careers as assistants or apprentice editors and work through many experiences to become a lead editor. A master’s degree helps them prepare for more job prospects and stay atop the industry.
Multimedia Artists and Animators
Salary: $72,520 per year
Education Requirement: According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, most employers prefer multimedia artists and animators who hold a bachelor’s degree in any program that offers coursework on two- or three-dimensional designs, new media, digital arts, computer animation, and graphic design. These programs may be computer graphics, art, and design. Multimedia artists and animators work to increase their accomplishments and typically earn a master’s degree to move to a higher position in the company.
Salary: $73,182 per year
Education Requirement: Typically, advertising designers hold a bachelor’s degree in Graphic or Advertising Design, Advertising, or Marketing. Some advertising designers begin their career with an associate’s degree, but earning a bachelor’s degree helps them land jobs and develop more portfolio of their work. You can obtain a good list of high-quality art schools and institutions with good advertising programs from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) site.
Salary: $34,000 per year
Education Requirement: Education programs for prospective photographers would depend on their career goals. Some employers take a high school diploma, but some industries require higher education. Say if you want to work for photojournalism or forensic photography industry, then an associate’s degree in Photography might be enough for some companies or some clients. A bachelor’s degree in Photography provides you with more workshops and lets you explore the logistical and technical aspects of the field. For the reason that technology is continuously upgrading especially in photography, one must be able to advance by learning new skills and techniques. Professional certificate programs are available to help you, and these are offered by the Professional Photographers of America.
Salary: $66,590 per year
Education Requirement: Aspiring industrial designers may be required to have a bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Product Design, Engineering, Advertising Art, Packaging Science, Visual Design, and related fields. Coursework should have either computer-aided design (CAD) or computer-aided industrial design. Additionally, earning a master’s degree will help build a strong professional portfolio of designs that will demonstrate skills and help bid contracts for work.
User Experience Designer
Salary: $90,697 per year
Education Requirement: The least degree you can earn to get a job as a UX designer is an associate’s degree in the fields of Visual Design, Communications, Computer Science, and even in Psychology. There is no specific degree for UI/UX designers. Also, many employers prefer a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree. So, developing advanced skills still brings more significant benefits. You can also further build your knowledge and skills by getting into certificate programs. The Interaction Design Foundation offers excellent certificate programs targeting interaction design, computer science, information architecture, user experience, and design.
Craft and Fine Artist
Salary: $48,960 per year
Education Requirement: High school classes in the art may help you with essential skills such as drawing, sewing, painting, and woodworking but to get sufficient skills, you need either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in fine arts. These degrees should be obtained from accredited colleges and universities. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) has a complete list of accredited schools and institutions who offer art and design programs. Independent academies of art and design also offer art programs, certifications, and training.
30 Highest-Paying Design Occupations
Creative Directors plan, oversee, and manage the creative process of all projects. They are the leads at advertising agencies or marketing companies. They are responsible for guiding their creative teams, which include directors, designers, and copywriters. Depending on the company’s goals, the role of creative directors may change. Working with the team to produce creative ideas, overseeing client pitches and proposals, meeting with clients or upper management, reviewing work, and providing feedback to the group are some of the responsibilities creative directors hold. This position needs ample experience that runs from five to eight years. Problem-solving and project-management skills are essential.
Creative Director Salary: $132,770 per year
Furniture designers develop and produce designs for items and different kinds of furniture. Some of these creative individuals work for the mass production of furniture and may even work for branded pieces. There are two kinds of furniture designers. Independent furniture designers work a commission basis and create designs without having to depend on clients. Commercial furniture designers create their designs based on the company’s goals and target market. Responsibilities of furniture designers are preparing detailed plans, using software packages, evaluating ordering and manufacturing of furniture, attending workshops, and staying abreast of design trends and developments.
Furniture Designer Salary: $111,441 per year
The challenge of product designers is to take broad ideas and make them functional and straightforward items or products. These products are used in our daily lives, may they be industrial or consumer goods. Product designers do not only design new products but also improve how existing products work. They have to work and collaborate with engineers, marketing, and manufacturing teams as well. Responsibilities may include analyzing the development process of new products, developing a comprehensive specification and documentation necessary to other teams, presenting drafts through sketches, storyboards and architecture blueprints, producing prototypes, testing the functionality of products, and gathering feedback from clients, upper management, engineering, and other teams. The work environment for product designers is usually in bright studios or workshops.
Product Designer Salary: $106,766 per year
Design managers drive efficiency and manage a team of design, graphics, and drafts team or department. These managers are tasked to develop design strategies, ensure technical resources are utilized efficiently, oversee quality checking and approval procedures are observed, coordinate with other teams and various parties of production and design, escalate the potential issue to the upper management, and lastly, track and evaluate the feedback of design performance. They work standard office hours and full-time.
Design Manager Salary: $94,926 per year
Art directors generally have to manage a team of designers working on a creative project for visual styles and images in the fields of film and television, publishing, marketing, product packaging, web design and more. Art directors have responsibilities to meet with clients to discuss brand objectives and target, hire and train designing staff, collaborate with other teams in the art department in developing creative visual elements, establish budgets and timelines, research market trends and consumer need, and track campaign performance. Most employers look for a master’s degree for this position. Art directors usually work in a fast-paced environment and have very high social interaction skills since they work with customers and client staff regularly. They have to work under pressure to meet deadlines every week or every month.
Art Director Salary: $92,780 per year
User Experience Designer
User experience designers’ main concern is how a particular product “feels.” They have to possess a strong empathy for the user and have excellent analytical abilities to identify user needs and solve problems. These are possible through research and testing. UX designers are responsible for developing wireframes and task flows premised on user needs, understanding product specification and user psychology, develop prototypes based on customer needs, create a strategic design on new functions and features, collaborate with other designers and developers, and gather feedback after conducting tests. They must be experts in standard UX software like Sketch, Framer, OmniGraffle, InVision, UXPin, and Balsamiq.
User Experience Designer Salary: $90,697 per year
Architects design residential and commercial buildings and the spaces around them. They plan, design, and oversee the construction. They may also restore and redesign old or existing buildings to make room for new facilities. Their tasks may include developing ideas based on client specification and needs, produce detailed blueprints, ensure budget and timelines are met, coordinate with contractors, do site visits, and attend regular meetings with other colleagues and professionals involved in the construction or project. Most of them work in offices with occasional visits to clients and project location. Employers may vary from private construction companies, government agencies, and other organizations.
Architect Salary: $77,799 per year
Advertising designers develop ideas for advertisements and work to bring these advertisements to life and different channels. These advertisements can involve television, web content, print, newspapers, magazines, books, or promotional giveaways. This is done by creating or choosing eye-catching designs through visual concepts comprised of shapes, drawings, computer-generated objects, or photographs. Other design team members may also produce these concepts, so coordination and interaction are essential to this job. Advertising designers work to sell a product or service. They have to do market research on customer needs, edit and manipulate presentations according to the client’s needs, and determine which layout or design will be most appealing to the consumers.
Advertising Designer Salary: $73,182
Fashion designers have a strong sense of aesthetics, a sense of balance and proportion, and a keen eye for color and detail. They design and assist in the production of clothing range, shoes, and accessories. Some may work as a generalist while some prefer to specialize in an area like women’s wear, sportswear, haute couture, high-street fashion, menswear, and more. They decide what color, style, size, fabrics, and trims to work on. Their responsibilities include creating an idea and developing a design, planning and formulating ranges, coordinating with other members of the team, reviewing product or style, presenting mood boards or storyboards to potential clients and lastly, keeping track of the latest trends on fashion.
Fashion Designer Salary: $72,720 per year
Multimedia Artists and Animator
Multimedia artists and animators, through the use of multiple technologies, create animation, special effects, and other visual images for television, movies, video games, and different sorts of media. The animations are usually created in a two- or three-dimensional models. Multimedia artists and animators are tasked to develop sophisticated graphics and animation through computer programs and illustrations. They manipulate light, color, shadow, movements, and texture of an object to make characters appear real. Applying story development, creating storyboards, working with other team members, research on upcoming projects, and meeting with clients, directors, actors, other designers to check timelines and update on deadlines are some of the responsibilities of multimedia artists and animators. Motion picture agencies and video industries hire most of them while some are employed by software publishers, advertising agencies, and related services.
Multimedia Artists and Animators Salary: $72,520 per year
Video producers are leaders who are in charge of getting things done in a film or video production. They must possess the creative ability and as well as strong entrepreneurial skills. Video producers work on the project from start to finish. They begin with selecting artistic elements for multimedia content, then hire editors, actors, stylist, videographers, and other team members needed for the production team. Once video producers organize the crew and staff, they then delegate specific tasks to each of them. Video producers also have to ensure that the projects are kept within the budget, actualize expenses, secure business and location permits, plan video shoots and schedules, record and edit video projects, and even write scripts or design graphics. To become a video producer, one must hold a long-term experience in the field.
Video Producer Salary: $71,680 per year
Interior Design Project Manager
Interior design project managers primarily oversee the project from conception to completion. They are responsible for planning, budgeting, organizing, and execution of the project. Their ultimate goal is to ensure the safety and welfare of the clients who will occupy the space they are working on. They have to make decisions, delegate tasks to interior designers and other members of the team, consult with clients about the area, design, and other preferences. They also need to ensure that the execution of the project adheres to the building code, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and that preparation of contracts for clients approval is carried out.
Interior Design Project Manager Salary: $68,119 per year
Industrial designers work with other industry professionals in creating and manufacturing industrial products like home appliances, toys, cars, sports equipment, materials, and supplies. They have to hold a formal education and apply art, business, and engineering techniques to create or design such products. Industrial designers should develop designs by sketching, rendering, and prototypes. They have to regularly do meetings with other professionals like engineers and other designers to help them with the decision-making process. Other tasks include identifying manufacturing partners and resources, continuously developing new ideas and design, evaluating the feasibility of plans, and maintaining expertise on product design ensuring adherence to International Organization of Standardization and Good Manufacturing Practice.
Industrial Designer Salary: $66,590 per year
Graphic Design Manager
These senior-level employees are responsible for supervising a graphics design team in an organization or company. Graphic design managers oversee the development of designs, concepts, and layouts. They have to present these design projects to stakeholders or the upper management for support and approval. They have to delegate tasks to art designers, graphic designers, production designers, and other professionals needed in the execution of the project. Like most managers, they need to meet with clients or art directors to prepare and know their preferences on the project. Product logos, websites, and illustrations are the essential elements in the execution of the project. Ensuring organized and up-to-date files are maintained, training and mentoring junior designers, and ensuring strict adherence of design guidelines are some of the other responsibilities of graphic design managers.
Graphic Design Manager Salary: $63,503 per year
Motion Graphic Designers
Graphic designers develop designs through visuals, while motion graphic designers do the same with movement. Animators present concepts through a storyline while motion graphic designers give life to ideas or elements that usually don’t have any. Motion graphic designers create elaborate designs for a broad array of media such as the web, television, smartphones, and electronic devices. They also collaborate with editors, producers, and other designers to work on a project and solve technical issues. Research and analysis on best techniques for motion graphics, maintaining best practices in organizing files, versioning control, and naming convention, being knowledgeable about the current graphic designs are some of the tasks and responsibilities they need to handle.
Motion Graphic Designer Salary: $63,373 per year
Apparel Technical Designers
Apparel technical designers have become essential members of the fashion industry. They primarily take over a new design idea and work to ensure that products meet brand standards. They see to it that garments or accessories align with product specifications. Designers with pattern-making skills are best qualified for this job. Apparel technical designers have to engage in quality control by attending product fittings, ensure specific characteristics for the brand like displaying the company’s logo, work and coordinate with advertising and marketing teams to produce effective advertisement on the product. Making a recommendation about pattern improvements, consulting pattern makers in creating new designs, and maintaining documentation for pattern designs are all part of an apparel technical designer’s tasks.
Apparel Technical Designer Salary: $61,317 per year
Set and Exhibit Designer
Set and exhibit designers work to design special exhibits and physical sets for movies, television, and theater sets. To do this, they have to collaborate with directors, writers, and research team to identify appropriate styles and setup. They may also have to read scripts and do research on architectural styles to get more ideas on what the final set design should be. Their tasks may include estimating set-related costs, including construction and materials, selecting appropriate furniture, and designing wall and floor coverings. They also prepare the floor plans and delegate specific work such as sketching and illustrating. They incorporate security systems into exhibit layouts. Group discussions and meetings are essential in this job. Set and Exhibit Designerswork either in an office-style or warehouse-style setting.
Set and Exhibit Designer Salary: $61,020 per year
Digital design is a specialty in graphic design. This may include multimedia presentations, email and web ads, social media collateral, digital signage, pitch decks, and more. Digital designers mainly apply graphic design principles in creating digital graphic communication. Their responsibilities may include designing and developing microsites, electronic media, and rich text emails, design HTML email and newsletter, collaborate with digital photographers and illustrators, and finally, staying up to date with the digital trends. Digital designers must be knowledgeable with HTML coding, Flash, InDesign, Illustrator, and other software packages essential to digital design.
Digital Designer Salary: $59,698 per year
Illustrators create original pieces of artwork through still drawings for the advertisements published in books, magazines, packaging, greeting cards, and newspapers. Illustrators either work on various projects or focus on one area. It is crucial for these creative professionals to know and understand the target audience and the concept of art appropriate for these audiences. They have to seek approval from the upper management or even stakeholders before working on the final idea for the project. Other responsibilities may include refining designs using illustration software, setting budget and timeline, ensuring the color and quality standards are met, formatting images through computer-aided design software, and keeping track with new designs and software. Some illustrators work either home or in a studio.
Illustrator Salary: $58,370 per year
Textile designers design and create patterns for knitted, printed, and woven textiles. The textile design may include clothing and accessories, fabrics and furnishings, upholstery, and even industrial equipment. Some textile designers may be involved with a variety of textile while some work in a specialty area. They produce sketches and samples for presentation to customers, upper management or stakeholders, assessing production standards, use software applications for print machines, identify color arrangements, source fabrics, and materials, attend trade shows and exhibits, ensure projects are completed on time and budget, and keep up to date on textile design trends. Most textile designers may have to work extra hours for meetings. Textile designers are mostly found in factories, smart design studios, or at the office.
Textile Designer Salary: $58,334 per year
Sculptors create three-dimensional pieces using stone, wood, plaster, marble, concrete, metal, and even blocks of ice. They design and construct their artwork using techniques and methods in carving, metalworking, whittling, chiseling, or shaping. They utilize tools such as chisels, mallets, gouges, and other hand tools to create the object. Most sculptors work freelance and do not have to depend on someone else. Some work for commission-based pay and make a piece for a person or a company. They may also teach sculpting, reach out to galleries to showcase their work, and select materials for new projects.
Sculptor Salary: $57,520 per year
Jewelry designers are professionals who were trained to design and make jewelry using a variety of materials such as gems, stones, precious metals, and crystals. These trained professionals create accessories for the ears, neck, hands, feet, and toes. They may create these accessories for mass production or produce a few of them for clients. They have to discuss client’s range of options, sketch out ideas by hand, 3D modeling, 3D construction or using computer-aided design (CAD) software, adjust to mount to ensure a perfect fit, and meet client expectations. Working hours for employed jewelry designers are typically regular and do not require shifts while freelance jewelry designers have the flexibility to work hours that suit them.
Jewelry Designer Salary: $57,485 per year
Interior designers work to set up interior spaces by making them functional, safe, and aesthetic. They determine space requirements, select colors, light, and furniture to set up a room, read blueprints, and are well informed with building codes and inspection regulations. They are responsible for defining project requirements, sketching preliminary designs, sourcing materials, and furnishings, preparing final plans, ensuring client expectations are met, producing samples and mood products, and collaborating with other designers, architects, engineers, and constructors. Research about industry changes and trends are also essential to succeed in this type of job.
Interior Design Salary: $53,370 per year
Video editing is crucial in the entertainment and marketing industry. It puts all shots into their proper sequence and gives the perfect flow of the film. The primary responsibility of film and video editors is to edit and assemble recorded raw materials, videos, graphics, audio and texts into a qualified finished product ready for transmission, advertisement, broadcasting or distribution. Film and video editors arrange footage and match sound files, decide which shots are kept and which ones make the cut, add graphics and titles, capture studio-quality photographs and videos, work with other member of the creative team, present final product to the management or producers, and manage all aspects of recording and editing. Film and video editors make use of editing software to produce films that suit the audience expectations or preference.
Film/Video Editor Salary: $50,584 per year
Videographers operate video cameras and other related equipment in capturing important events, production of video documentaries, scouting video, and production of television programs. They wear more than one hat. They can be directors, sound man, and editor. Videographers may direct people to capture certain angles and actions, edit these captured videos, and use audio mixing and lighting equipment for field or studio productions. They are responsible for completing preventive maintenance reports on videos and other production equipment, negotiating to price with clients and tracking time and schedule spent in shooting, directing, editing and post-production process.
Videographer Salary: $50,584 per year
Graphic designers create visual concepts for print, digital, and mobile platforms. Their job may vary widely depending on what type of project they need to work on. Graphic designers establish a working relationship with clients to determine their goals, budget, and expectations. They also develop design ideas and layouts for product illustrations, logos, and websites. They prepare drafts and sketches based on the client’s preference and work with the creative directors and the marketing team to decide on the final design. Graphic designers are typically hired by advertising agencies, large print companies, multimedia companies, and television and broadcasting companies.
Graphic Designer Salary: $50,370 per year
An art professor’s career falls under a broad category. Art professors not only teach art classes but also include drama and music classes. These professionals are also artists who contribute to the knowledge and skills acquired by undergraduate and graduate students. They work in colleges and universities, and most of them are tenured and are awarded a lifetime of employment. They can also teach art history, the basic principles of art, and art restoration. They supervise and assist students in their artwork, encourage creativity, and provide feedback and evaluation on student’s performance. If they are not in the classrooms, you can find them in art studios.
Art Professor Salary: $49,465 per year
Craft and Fine Artist
Most craft and fine artists try to work with art away from traditional methods like sculpting, painting, or drawing. They produce or reproduce hand-made objects by using a variety of techniques for sale and exhibition. Materials or objects used may be glassware, textiles, pottery, metal, and wood. Craft and fine artists create pieces that are designed to be functional. These professionals shape, cut or join materials, use visual techniques for color, space, composition, and perspective, select which materials to use, create sketches and templates or models to guide their work, and display their work at auctions and galleries.
Craft and Fine Artist Salary: $48,960 per year
Production artists are tasked to evaluate the final product or design. Aside from collecting, processing and uploading files, production artists review final copy or content in print or digital form. They ensure that the client’s expectations are met by checking standards in color, font, production quality, and more. They have to possess skills in graphic design and fine arts as these will help complete a great deal of work. They have to put finishing touches, change the layout, get rid of redundancy in the final product, catch typos, spot size, resolution, and font errors. Getting into this job means being under constant pressure and deadline. They are expected to know how specific software work, such as Dreamweaver, Microsoft Project, and Macromedia Flash.
Production Artist Salary: $47,563 per year
Kitchen and Bath Designer
Kitchen and bath designers are interior designers who specialize in designing kitchens and bathrooms. Before materials are bought, kitchen and bath designers have to visit the site and do a survey while communicating with clients. They have to ensure that clients approve of the patterns, color, design, and materials they have proposed. Their responsibilities include planning a layout by using sketches and blueprints, be involved in sourcing, purchase, freight, and delivery, handle a team of designers for large-scale projects, ensuring the project is completed on time and kept within the budget, and looking after the documentation and files of all the phases of project execution.
Kitchen & Bath Designer Salary: $35,060 per year
Part-time Design Jobs
Photo retouching refers to making some changes on the photos that need to be improved, and they manipulate the looks of the subject of the picture. Some photo retouchers are hired to work flexible or short periods of hours, depending on the number of tasks assigned in one project or photo. They are expected to provide support or assists the senior photographer or editor, contributing their expertise in innovating image flow processes.
Floral designers can design a wide variety of floral arrangements, recommend flowers and greenery based on the customer’s budget and collaborate with other floral artists to determine which type of arrangement is appropriate for the occasion, event or location. They may work flexible hours like creating a single arrangement for special occasions or provide floral displays for rooms or office spaces. Some floral designers are hired with long-term contracts with companies having to call for their services weekly or monthly.
Ceramics designers, also known as ceramicists, work with clay, porcelain, bone china to create designs for pottery items, wall and floor tiles, figurines, sculpture, homeware, tableware, and cookware. They research and find new materials for their designs, decide on decorative techniques, prepare for sales or exhibition, and develop artistic business plans. They may work for manufacturing companies or work independently as freelancers. Some part-time ceramics designers work for art schools and universities to teach a few courses on ceramic art.
Cake decorators are craft artists who work to make cakes, tarts, pastries, and other baking orders look deliciously appealing. Attention to detail and steady hands are necessary skills they must possess. They have to assist pastry chef in shaping dough portions, prepare ingredients, manage the mixing of icing and sugar ornaments, and perform all finishing touches and labeling of the products. Some companies hire them for part-time positions or work only on weekends.
Furniture designers create and develop design concepts for various furniture and fixtures at home or an office. Creative and commercial skills in marketing, finance, and sales are crucial for this type of job. These designers sketch and create prototypes, 2D, or 3D models using computer-aided design (CAD) software. They also have to spend a lot of time experimenting with different materials, techniques, and software to produce innovative designs for furniture. Most of their time, they work in a studio or workshop and attend client meetings and trade shows. Some may work for established designers and work irregular and flexible time, with work in evenings or on the weekend.
Stained Glass Artist
Stained glass artists create weatherproof artwork on glasses like windows of religious buildings, glass domes of art institute buildings, libraries, homes, and more. They draw cartoons, prepare glass fabrication, research on stresses, symbolism, and history of their design concepts, possess knowledge and skills in glass cutting, assemble wax pieces, paint, stain, and fire glass to fuse and stabilize colors. They may also need to install the finished product and restore damaged glass objects. Most stained-glass artists are self-employed and get to work on a project depending on the client’s timescale.
In addition to the abovementioned responsibilities of product designers, they have to consider factors about products such as buyers, quality and safety features, reliability, and environmental-friendly features. Some may work from nine to five with extra hours to meet deadlines, but some work as freelancers or with contract work, so opportunities for part-time positions are available.
10 Unique Design Careers
Picture Framer/Picture Frame Designer
A picture frame designer works to design and make frames by cutting out or assembling moldings. He/she discusses the design to clients, advises on the materials, work out the cost, set up woodworking machines, fix artworks, documentation, memorabilia, and photos into the frame and package the finished product. These designers combine their technical and craft skills to do the job.
Inker and Opaquer
An inker and opaquer mainly trace drawings and sketches prepared by cartoonists. He/she reverses celluloid (film) and brushes a thin coat of special paint on the reverse sides to render the drawing opaque. Also, preparing the artwork for heavy screen toning using pen techniques and painting on the opposite side of the celluloid using specified colors are parts of their duties. Inking can be done traditionally or with the use of computers. Using technology in inking makes the job easier and faster.
Kinetic Sculpture Artist
A kinetic sculpture artist creates sculptures that involve motion. The artwork may sway in the breeze, swing from side to side, moved by powered magnets or vibrate with a motor. He or she comes up with an innovative idea to put up a unique kind of sculpture or masterpiece. Some pieces are installed outside of a building, parks or in particularly famous spots.
An art repairer or conservator is responsible for repairing damaged artworks like paintings, textiles, ceramics, cultural objects, and historical artifacts. This job involves not only repairs but also a lot of research on the appropriate techniques to use when repairing objects, especially antiques, where the original art form should not be altered. Examination of the art object’s condition, authenticity, and method of preservation and working with the repair team are some of the responsibilities of an art repairer.
Body Paint Artist
Body paint artist creates designs and uses human skin as their canvas for artistic expression. He or she uses water-based paints to create or draw images. The color lasts for about a few hours to a day. A body paint artist may work in film or entertainment industry. He or she may work in a science fiction film or television programs to transform actors into different characters. Some may work for the professional modeling or photography industry. Spray tanners and makeup artists are also types of body paint artists.
A color expert specializes in choosing color themes and color combinations on paper, paint, floor coverings, furnishings, and draperies of homes, offices, and other establishments. He or she has to check the client’s home or building from room to room, discuss color options and provides the client with the required color information or chips. A color expert who holds a degree in art or design embraces more opportunities in the industry.
A landscape designer is responsible for maintaining the outdoor aesthetics of properties such as buildings, houses, and schools. He or she uses creativity to design a pleasing and functional outdoor area, plan and sketch details, performs assessment on plants, soil’s current condition, lighting, view and the architectural style of the building, works out fees, ensures the projected designs match with the client’s needs, and prepares specifications for garden contractors. A landscape designer usually works with flexible hours that include weekends and evenings, depending on client’s timescale.
Professional Food Photographer
A professional food photographer captures appetizing food images for restaurants, catering companies, and food producers. Some of them work with food stylists or be part of a team for food organizations. He or she must not only possess excellent photography skills but also has to hold the culinary background. A food photographer has to pick the freshest and the best-looking food items. The challenge is to reveal the visual elements of the food as a means to stir the senses of smell and taste of viewers. Some food photographers work with art directors as well.
A font designer designs develops and creates fonts to meet a client’s need. Some work as freelancers and some work for font design companies. He or she may also redesign and recreate character sets within the company, maintains high-quality typography, support digital designers and advertising teams in matters of design elements, and ensure every letter or character is tweaked individually until it is developed. One must be well-versed with font software such as Adobe Illustrator, FontLab, FontCreator, Glyphs, and InDesign as these will help in building a vast portfolio.
Glass blowing is an ancient form of art that uses equipment such as blowpipes, furnaces, baking kilns, engraving plates, stencils, and needles. It is labor intensive and is best for individuals who can work in a potentially hazardous environment. A glass blower uses blowing techniques in handling molten glass and other tools or materials like metals to obtain final shapes. This job requires a specific skill set which can be acquired by getting into fine arts programs that offer a concentration in glass and glass blowing techniques.
Top Travel Design Careers
Traveling Body Paint Artist
Most body paint artists travel to the location of the event or production. If you work in the entertainment industry, your job may involve traveling to the film location. When you work for a magazine and advertising agencies, you join photo shoots on site. Some of these artists travel across the globe to participate in competitions and to discover more inspiration for their art.
Professional Sandcastle Sculptor
Sand sculpture is the practice of creating visual art by using wet sand and compaction. Sand artist or sculptors make use buckets to fill with water, barber’s brush, paintbrushes, leveling tool and more for sandcastle success. Most of these sculptors produce significant kinds of statues or reliefs and typically work at the beach. This profession may involve a lot of traveling since there are a lot of places to discover and share sand sculpting tradition with. Some sand sculptors are hired for special events, and some are invited to showcase their talent and skills in competitions and art galleries.
Fashion designers, especially the famous and flagbearers of fashion, do a lot of traveling. They have to attend fashion runway shows, fashion week, and exhibit held in other countries. Traveling is also essential to keeping up with the trends in style. Some designers travel to source supplies and materials for their designs. They do promotions in local and international events. It’s one of the perks of being a fashion designer.
Art directors work for television and movie production, magazines and multimedia companies. They may have to travel to the location of production where they can do the filming and editing. For print production, they may have to on site to oversee and support photo shoots.
Fashion and Textile Curator
Fashion and textile curators learn from other people’s clothes, accessories, and textiles. Their goal is to present different perspectives from around the world and expand the historical narratives of these collections. They collect and care for these items in storage or a museum. Liaising between museums, external agencies, collectors, donors, and artists is a big responsibility that curators have as they have to ensure that their objective aligns with others’. Traveling to different countries to find particular collections and holdings complete the exhibition and research programs of curators.
Most travel videographers cover and create incredible content for travels, travel agency promotions, and even for tourism agency of the government. They are paid to travel and take the best videos and produce them for distribution in social media, television, and films. Their lifestyle is about living in different countries, places, or destinations. They get to immerse themselves in different cultures which contribute to their concepts and innovative ideas.
What are the skills you gain on a Design Degree?
Students gain a wealth of skills and capabilities due to the technical nature and characteristics of the design degrees, preferred by numerous employers within the design industry. Design majors develop skills in illustration, animation, use of 3D modeling software applications, and other production techniques that are essential to many career opportunities. Whether you apply for a job prospect in your specialization or try your luck in other areas of discipline in the Design industry, several of the skills you acquire are useful, marketable, and transferable.
The valuable skills you will develop as you progress yourself within the design studies include:
- Problem Solving
- Computer Skills
- Emotional Intelligence
- Project Management
- Presentation Skills
What will I study on my Design Degree?
The majority of the students’ time will be mostly on learning a variety of technical skills. Depending on the chosen concentration or specialization, such capabilities could range from practicing technical drawing to developing their craft on several game development applications. Students will learn several theories varying from one degree to another; however, they will have an in-depth understanding about contemporary practices in the design field or art history, whether it revolves learning about the development of printing techniques or critical processes of furniture design.
The modules will depend on the chosen design degree. Typically, students will study the following areas of study:
- Design for Online and Print
- Graphic Design Theory
- Introduction To Art and Media
- Basic Moving Image
- Principles of Visual Communication
However, on a different design-related degree such as product design degree, students will likely to study the following:
- Manufacturing Process
- 2D and 3D Media
- Applications, Properties, and Limitations of Materials
- Design Communication Theory
Despite there are several educational institutions that offer the same type of design degree program, it is most likely that the set of coursework they offer are different.
What kind of Accreditation should my Design Degree have?
Students must never waste their time and financial resources on a Design degree that will not be considered by potential employers seriously. It is vital to make sure the college or university chosen must have the proper accreditation and reputation before they will proceed.
The majority of higher education disciplines have accreditation status, which makes it critical in determining where to earn your design degree. Another essential factor of enrolling in an accredited academic institution is the eligibility of financial aid. These schools must be certified by an association recognized by the Department of Education to be able to qualify to provide financial assistance among its students. Having an accreditation means the school has an initiative of maintaining its standards as well as look for ways to improve and advance its status within the current field.
Regional Accrediting Institutions
The accrediting sectors are categorized into regional and national accrediting bodies. Regional accrediting organizations indicate greater credibility, reputation, and merit. When you are searching for a potential college or university to obtain a design degree, you must consider the ones who have verified status from the following regional accrediting institutions:
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
- The Higher Learning Commission
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Aside from regional or national accrediting agencies, there are program-specific accreditations that add up more value and credentials to your design degree. Some companies will require that your design degree is earned with a set of coursework that is accredited by program-specific agencies.
The good news is, accreditation is not strictly a requirement for your Design degree. In some cases, the regional accreditation from the school is more than enough. As such, the National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD) maintains national design-related undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The association has awarded more than 350 academic institutions, indicating that these institutions maintain the standards of quality and curriculum set by NASAD. As such, it suggests the program credibility of the school.
The absence of this program-specific accreditation is not a big deal. If your chosen school has regional certifications by one of the six agencies listed above, it is considered legitimate, and future employers will take your earned Design degree seriously.
Is there a need for a Design foundation course?
A unique way to enhance your portfolio is to obtain a certification in Design. Some certifications or courses typically last one year and allow students to try different areas of the design before ultimately choosing a concentration or specialization. These foundational courses will enable you to weigh down your options and discover which field of design you are interested in studying.
These Design disciplines include:
- Fashion and Textiles – Make-up, Fashion Design, Costume Design
- Fine Arts – Sculpture, Painting
- Graphics and Illustration – Game Design, Animation
- 3D Design – Architecture, Interior Design
Taking up such foundational courses allow you to build a strong portfolio which will help you in your future job prospects. As such, it is one of the great ways to try out different design disciplines, discover what you are passionate about and create a range of work and art pieces. However, it is not mandatory to have one if you are already determined about your interest and the quality of your portfolio.
Who are suitable for a Design Degree?
Students who are searching for ways to enhance or spark their creative interest while getting a Design education are best suited to pursue the Design degree. There are several areas of concentration to showcase their creative talents as printmakers, photographers, animators, UI UX designers or illustrators to name just a few of several design-related positions.
As a design major, you will indulge in a variety of several visual media such as sculpting and painting. You will obtain a comprehensive understanding of various techniques of shading. You will be immersed in art history, and learn the eras and movements that brought world-class artists and masterpieces to life.
Therefore, a Design degree is suitable for people who have an in-depth passion, interest, and appreciation for creative endeavors. It is one of the practical choices of degree programs in today’s job market. There is an increasing demand for multimedia artists, video creators, illustrators, visual storytellers, animators, web designers, and many others.
Alternative Options to a Design Degree
Students who consider a Design degree but are more inclined to art as a form of greater self-expression and experimentation can pursue Art as a degree. If the entertainment side of it interests you, film making and broadcasting, audio and music technology, film and television production and animation are considerable options.
If students who are more interested in the modern elements of design as well as the structural aspects, they can find choices in an engineering-related degree.
However, if students have a combined interest in structure and aesthetics, an architecture-related degree program may be an appropriate choice for them.