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Computer graphics and multimedia design programs help prepare students for careers in the digital arts, a field at the intersection of art and technology. Just a few decades ago, commercial artists relied on sketch pads, colored pencils and rulers to communicate compelling visual messages. Today, thanks to advances in technology, the only limit to what can be conveyed visually is the imagination. And while the print medium may be on the decline, those working in the digital arts are experiencing a renaissance as websites, video games, web videos, mobile apps and other media steadily create opportunities in the field.

What to Expect from a Graphics and Multimedia Program

Generally, graphics and multimedia degrees are offered at the associate or bachelor's level. Program titles vary, but often focus on one or more of the following specializations:

  • Digital arts
  • Graphic design
  • Multimedia
  • Animation
  • Web design
  • Digital communication
  • Game design
  • Graphic information technology

Program content is likely to vary as well, depending on the school and area of emphasis. However, The College Board indicates that degree programs in technology in graphics and multimedia tend to offer courses in:

Computer Graphics
  • Drawing
  • Digital art and design
  • Color theory
  • Website design and development
  • Typography
  • 2D and 3D animation
  • Multimedia design

In addition, students typically explore the ins and outs of numerous software programs used in graphic design and multimedia, as well as how to create engaging user experiences. Some programs may emphasize Websites or mobile apps, while others focus on video games, animation, or even graphic design for print media. Students should also expect to learn about marketing and e-commerce.

An online graphics and multimedia program can be an excellent way to gain experience working in an online environment. An additional benefit of this type of training is that many working in graphics and multimedia are freelancers -- self-motivated and autonomous. Online learning can be excellent preparation for work of this kind, due to its reliance on self-discipline and time management.

Careers in Computer Graphics and Multimedia Design

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those interested in becoming a graphic designer or multimedia artist typically must possess a bachelor's degree in a related field. However, associate degrees or even certificates may be acceptable, depending on the employer and the applicant's prior experience. The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is generally the highest academic degree level for this field. Training through a graphics and multimedia program can also help prepare graduates for positions such as Web designer, art director, animator or photographer.

The BLS projects demand for graphic designers to grow 7 percent nationwide between 2012 and 2022. They contribute this relatively low number to the ongoing decline of print media, which may slow growth in the overall field of graphic design. However, within this category, they expect opportunities in computer systems design to grow a whopping 35 percent over that same period, meaning that those interested in careers in Web design, mobile app development or video games may be in luck. These industries are attractive though, and competition is expected to be tough. Students may benefit from greater levels of training, at the bachelor's level or higher, and well-rounded work experience that includes print, Web and even broadcasting.

Sources:
"Graphic Designers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Arts-and-Design/Graphic-designers.htm
"Major: Digital Arts," The College Board, Big Future, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/arts-visual-performing-digital-arts
"Major: Digital Communications and Multimedia," The College Board, Big Future, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/communication-journalism-digital-communications-multimedia
"Multimedia Artists and Animators," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition,www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/multimedia-artists-and-animators.htm

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