What Can I Do With a Visual Communications Degree?

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If you are a creative person who’s interested in art and design, you may want to know more about a visual communications degree. This academic discipline covers all of the creative communications fields such as graphic design, Web design, advertising, copy writing, art direction and visual design. It’s a good major for anyone who naturally has an eye for visual composition and an instinct for communicating ideas with graphics. The most popular careers in this discipline are in Web design and graphic design, although many graduates with this major go into Web programming, marketing, decorating and other areas of design. You can work in the publishing industry as a graphic designer, or you can work in the advertising industry as an artist or marketer.

Creative Career Paths

The career choice with perhaps the most opportunity is Web design, and this job requires ongoing learning after obtaining a degree. Web design is a field in which you do a little of everything from visual design to marketing and computer programming. You can get a Web design degree from a two-year college or from an art school, and the college you choose makes a difference in the education you receive and the types of jobs you can get after graduation.

If you go to an art school, you typically won’t be able to take programming or computer science courses unless the school offers some type of computer science degree as well. It’s a good idea to take at least one or two introductory programming courses when going into Web design so that you can learn the basics of object-oriented programming, data structures and algorithms. An art school focuses on visual composition, user experience design, color theory and the business side of being a designer, while a community college may focus more on programming and computer software.

Common Pitfalls

Being a Web designer is much like being a graphic designer, and in many ways, Web design is the modern equivalent of graphic design. Visual design students should strongly consider learning computer science skills while in college, even if they don’t plan to go into Web design, because graphic designers without programming skills have much lower job availability than Web designers. Visual designers in the Web design industry have specialized in art, and they do work similar in nature to graphic designers in the past.

You can get a bachelor’s degree in one of these subjects, but you should be careful when choosing a degree because they’re not all equally useful. For example, a bachelor’s degree in Web design is not equal to a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and it doesn’t qualify you for any jobs that an associate’s degree in Web design doesn’t qualify you to do. Colleges may have a visual communications department with several degree tracks, or they may simply offer these degrees separately. Employers value the degree you get regardless of the university department it comes from, and designers are valued for their skills in illustration, color theory and composition.

Most people receive information on computers, televisions and mobile devices, and designers are needed to craft the visual aspect of these messages. If you’re a creative person with a knack for conveying complex ideas in a simple manner, you should think about going into visual commnications as a career.

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