Associate in Graphic Design Program Guide

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By Meg Whitenton

Published on April 20, 2021

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Earning an associate in graphic design can provide the first step toward a creative career. Graduates of an associate program can pursue entry-level graphic design, web design, and desktop publishing positions. Students can also obtain experience as junior designers to eventually pursue a bachelor's degree.

Between 2019 and 2029, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 8% increase in jobs for web developers and digital designers. These professionals earned a median annual wage of $77,200 in 2020.

Read on to learn more about associate programs in graphic design and popular career paths for graduates.

Should I Get an Associate in Graphic Design?

An associate degree in graphic design meets the minimum education requirements for junior-level design jobs in print design and visual marketing.

An associate degree in graphic design meets the minimum education requirements for junior-level design jobs in print design and visual marketing. Graduates with an associate degree may train under senior graphic designers to gain experience before seeking a higher degree to advance their career. Employers often hire associate degree-holders as interns.

While most associate degrees take two years to complete, many online associate degrees in graphic design offer accelerated paths to graduation. Many aspiring graphic designers eventually earn a bachelor's degree, which is required for most graphic design occupations.

Students may discover a new area of artistic interest while completing an associate degree. Ideal for creative types, graphic design associate programs include an introduction to basic art and design concepts, photography, web development, and building a professional portfolio. Some graduates pursue a career as a freelance artist after earning their degree.

Check out the Best Online Associate in Graphic Design Programs

What Will I Learn in a Graphic Design Associate Program?

Schools usually offer either an associate of arts (AA) or associate of applied science (AAS) in graphic design. An AA degree typically prepares students for further study in graphic design, while an AAS serves learners looking to enter the workforce immediately.

All associate degrees in graphic design develop artistic and professional skills. The curriculum introduces students to basic concepts like typography, 3D design, and computer illustration. Many programs emphasize simulations and labs and culminate in the development of a professional portfolio.

Whether a student pursues an in-person or online associate degree in graphic design, they may take advantage of academic and professional resources offered through their program. Degree-seekers can also join graphic design student groups and local or national graphic arts organizations.

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What Can I Do With an Associate in Graphic Design?

Earning an associate degree in graphic design can provide the first step toward a creative career. Graduates of an associate program can become freelance artists, photographers, or desktop publishers. Many graduates pursue digital interface design jobs, which sometimes require only an associate degree.

While most graphic design positions require a bachelor's degree, associate degree-holders can enter the field as junior designers to gain experience and eventually pursue a more advanced degree. They may also work as assistants to production managers or creative directors on the path toward their own graphic design career.

Popular Career Paths

Popular Continued Education Paths

How Much Money Can I Make With an Associate in Graphic Design?

An associate in graphic design can lead to high earning potential in a variety of design jobs. According to the BLS, digital interface designers and web developers earned a median annual salary of more than $77,000 in 2020. In that same year, craft and fine artists earned a median salary of $49,120 and desktop publishers earned $47,560. Graduates can pursue a bachelor's degree in graphic design to increase their salary potential.

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Graphic Design Programs

Are graphic designers in high demand?

Graphic designers in computer-based occupations will likely enjoy positive job growth. The BLS projects an 8% increase in web development and digital design jobs from 2019 to 2029, with especially high demand for professionals with e-commerce and mobile design experience.

How much does it cost to get an associate in graphic design?

Costs vary significantly by school, with public institutions generally charging less than private institutions. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, it cost in-state students around $3,310 to attend a public two-year school during the 2018-2019 academic year.

Is an associate in graphic design worth it?

Earning an associate in graphic design provides a pathway toward experience and entry-level employment in a creative field. While traditional jobs in graphic design typically require a bachelor's degree, many digital design jobs accept candidates with an associate degree.

What can you do with an associate in graphic design?

Graduates with an associate degree in graphic design may choose to become freelance artists or photographers. Others pursue employment as junior graphic designers on the path toward earning a bachelor's degree. They may also find work in web development and digital interface design.

What's the difference between an associate in graphic design and an associate in digital design?

An associate degree in graphic design can prepare graduates for a traditional or digital design career, while a digital design degree prepares students for immediate employment in a technology-based design field. These programs share many foundational courses.

Are you considering a bachelor's degree in fashion? Use this guide to decide which path is best for you. Find out what an associate degree in ministry comprises, learn about coursework and continuing education, and get answers to some of your most pressing questions about starting your degree. Want to get involved in college, but don't know where to start? Discover five ways to participate in student life on campus.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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