Media Design Career Paths

With so many professional possibilities to explore as a media designer, it’s no wonder the design career path continues to grow in popularity for undergrads in the digital media arena. From creative jobs in the entertainment and advertising industries to roles in science or healthcare that specialize in communication, there are plenty of media design careers available to the skilled media designer.

What Is the Role of A Media Designer?

As a media designer, your tasks are varied, including a host of multimedia applications. Your primary responsibility involves the communication of information, messages, and/or entertainment through different digital and print mediums.

Anyone who designs and creates using the computer can call themselves a media designer. This includes a design job title such as a graphic designer, web designer, and even animators!

When pursuing your design career path, your role may also entail creating:

  • 2-D and 3-D Images
  • Computer Graphics
  • Models
  • Animations for Film and Video
  • Digital Illustrations
  • Special Effects (depending on the specific area you pursue)

In turn, your designs will be utilized in an array of integrated media platforms, including but not limited to the internet, television, film, and mobile technologies.

Media designers may also find their work featured in more traditional channels, including newspapers, manuals, brochures, and other printed collateral. In general, your role will encompass the design of a visual presentation of some sort, whether it is used for entertainment purposes (such as the film industry), or for product enhancement, where your design skills are being applied as a means of visual communication.

What Skills Do I Need To Become A Media Designer?

For those who are considering a career in media design, it’s important to be aware of the skills and resources needed to succeed. A fluency in computer software and coding is essential, as well as an intermediate/advanced level of proficiency in both Windows and Mac computer systems.

If you’re exploring a career in interactive web design, a working knowledge of programming languages is fundamental for your career development. These languages include:

  • HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)
  • XHTML (Extensible Hypertext Markup Language)
  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)

Because nearly all web-based animation is created using Adobe Flash, you will want to become familiar with this program.

In addition, becoming adept at both Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop is key for anyone pursuing a career in the digital media arts. In addition to a high aptitude in computer technology and software, your creative, artistic, communication and organizational skills are crucial to your professional success once you enter the workforce.

In order to determine if a career path in media design is the right fit for you, here are a list of pros and cons:

PROS of a Career in Media Design:

  • Digital media careers allow for creative expression
  • Your work may be seen by a large audience
  • There are vast opportunities for advancement and growth within your field
  • BLS statistics show that web design and related fields will see an increase in growth within the next ten years

CONS of a Career in Media Design:

  • A demanding schedule including deadlines can be stressful
  • If you’re a freelance designer, you must find your own work and maintain a steady flow of clients to remain financially stable
  • In order to be successful (as a freelancer or full-time staff member), your schedule must cater to the client
  • Because software and technology are constantly changing, you must remain up-to-date and constantly abreast of trends & tools within your industry

How To Become A Media Designer

If you’re interested in pursuing a profession as a media designer, there are several ways of obtaining your goal. Many undergrads choose to earn their bachelor’s degree in animation or graphic design.

  • Proof of Completing High School

In order to proceed, you’ll first need to have a high school diploma or equivalent before applying to colleges of your choice. 

Keep in mind that students should take classes in art history, drawing, graphic arts, and/or web design. Working on school newspapers or yearbook can help showcase your web design skills.

  • Apply to Colleges

Once you’ve been accepted, your coursework will focus on image design and manipulation, web design and website maintenance, 3-D modeling, and digital video editing, as well as other computer software programs and digital tools.

  • Internships and Experience

Additionally, those enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program can expect a combination of specialized classes and real-life, hands-on experiences to prepare them for client design thinking and for the design industry  job market, including internships or similar opportunities.

In some instances, your bachelor’s program may require a senior project, which can be used later on within your portfolio as a representation of your work.

  • Build Portfolio

In addition to becoming an expert in your field, building a strong portfolio during your college years is imperative for your post-grad job search and to reaching your career goals.

  • Master’s Degree

For those who wish to seek a higher salary range and further their education, there are also master’s degree programs in graphic design, digital media, and animation.

Looking Ahead: Job Forecast For Media Designers

It should be noted that there is no shortage of job opportunities for those seeking employment within the media design profession. Due to the booming demands of our digital age, there are positions within the animation, film, television, web, mobile technology, and video game industries.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the digital media design industry is expected to experience an on-average job increase from 2014-2024. Computer graphic positions can anticipate growth within the expanding mobile technology market, while the consumer demand for movies, video games, special effects and 3-D animation are also accountable for some of the projected growth within the job forecast.

Additionally, research has shown that employment may also be sought in alternative areas, such as law, medicine, science, architecture and business, where media designers assist in the enhancement of products and modes of communication within said industries.

It is also anticipated that between 2014-2024, employment for all art and design workers can expect a growth rate of 2%. Statistics show that the stagnation in employment growth within the industry was largely in part due to companies hiring labor from outside of the US.

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