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By: Scott Cline on March 23rd, 2017

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What can you do with a design degree? Here are 6 awesome careers

Careers | Choosing A Major

Jony Ive. Milton Glaser. Frank Lloyd Wright. We don't just remember the names of the world's most legendary designers – we experience their work every day. Using a smartphone, getting absorbed in the latest YouTube broadcast, or walking around an engrossing museum are reminders of how important design is in our world.

How did the “greats” become great?   Many of them earned a degree in the design field, which gives you the skills and perspective needed to make creations that positively impact society. Below are six exciting, fulfilling, and potentially lucrative careers you can pursue with an art degree:

(Salary information from the Bureau of Labor Society’s 2015 Occupational Outlook Handbook, except where noted.)

Art Director

Job description: An art director is responsible for the visual elements of media in video, print, and digital formats. They interface with clients about a campaign's artistic direction, formulate high-level concepts and styles, and present mockups and preliminary drafts for client approval. Depending on their company and level of experience, art directors can also be responsible for managing and directing junior designers.

Median pay: $89,760 per year

Typical degree / major: BFA in graphic design

Animator

Job description: Animators produce still images that are sequenced together to create motion in movies, television shows, video games, advertisements, and more. They are responsible for creating storyboards, sketches, and models during preliminary phases of animation, then using software tools to bring these concepts to life. Animators also have to work with other team members on their productions: scriptwriters, illustrators, videographers, web developers, etc.

Median pay: $63,970 per year

Typical degree / major: BFA in animation or multimedia

Product designer

Job description: Sometimes called industrial designers, product designers create the design for a huge number of objects, from tablets and computers to cars and office furniture. Product designers have to create a design that is functional for users, cost-efficient to produce, and visually attractive – though the order of these priorities depends on the industry and organization. Most product designers specialize in a few specific fields or industries.

Median pay: $67,130 per year in 2015

Typical degree / major: BFA in industrial design

Freelance graphic designer

Job description: A freelance designer works with marketing agencies, publishers, B2B companies, and any organizations that need outside design help. Many companies use freelancers instead of or as a supplement to their in-house design staff. Freelance designers have unlimited earning potential, but they're also responsible for business tasks like finding work, billing clients, maintaining accurate records, etc. If you've got an entrepreneurial spirit, now is a great time to pursue freelancing – experts predict that by 2020, freelancers will account for 50% of the total U.S. labor force.

Median pay: $60,480 according to Glassdoor  

Typical degree / major: BFA in graphic design

Web designer

Job description: Web designers are responsible for the visual look and style of a website. They use various programming languages to create and implement a website's layout, user functions, branding, and more. Depending on their coding knowledge, web designers might also be responsible for coding the actual functions of a website – these back-end specialists are called web developers. Any company that needs a website created, overhauled, or maintained could hire a web designer.

Median pay: $64,970 per year (for web developers)

Typical degree / major: BFA in digital media or graphic design

User Experience (UX) designer

Job description: UX designers have become very popular in the digital era – The Creative Group called it "one of the most in-demand creative jobs" in 2016. Broadly speaking, UX designers create and update designs based on the way users interact with them. Their job duties sometimes overlap with traditional web design, but also include nontraditional design tasks like testing usability, creating customer scenarios, and researching user psychology.

Median pay: $87,883 per year according to Glassdoor

Typical degree / major: BFA in interaction design

Choosing design degree careers – it's all about you

There's no shortage of ways you can apply your design degree. With hard work and a passion for your chosen design discipline, you can use your degree to launch a fulfilling career that improves lives through creative problem solving.

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About Scott Cline

Dr. Scott Cline is vice president of enrollment at California College of the Arts, where he leads the financial aid and undergraduate admissions offices. He has worked at CCA for over six years, previously as director and associate director of financial aid.

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