Where to Study Graphic Design in Alaska?

Graphic designers are visual storytellers whose work is evident in many aspects of our lives. They work with modern technology as well as traditional mediums to communicate with and inspire consumers. Graduates have many careers to choose from, such as illustrator, web designer, art director, layout artist, logo designer and many more.

New graduates will also notice that just about every industry works with graphic designers, so they will have a chance to work with many different clients. With this in mind, the flexibility to change styles and adapt to a client’s interests is critical. Communication, the willingness to keep up with changing technologies and an eye for design will also be extremely valuable to potential employers.

If you are interested in a creative career, enjoy the idea of designing with both traditional techniques and the latest technology and thrive in a competitive environment, graphic design could be an ideal career for you.

What is Required?

While there are no regulations nationally or in-state requiring prospective graphic designers to obtain formal education or become certified, the industry is incredibly competitive, so anything a young designer can do to stand out would be beneficial. Additionally, 62 percent of graphic designers polled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report having at least a Bachelor’s degree. 

It’s important to note that many employers will only consider candidates who have completed their post-secondary education. It implies that the employee is coming into the job with enough design knowledge to be an asset to the company.

What to Look for in a Program

The right program should prepare you for a successful career in what is well known as a competitive industry.

  • Personal Support

A good program should have professors that really care about whether their students do well. Getting a tour of the department and speaking with some of the faculty should give you a good idea of what you can expect.

  • Good Facilities

While on tour, take a good look at the facilities that you will be taught in. Are they adequately designed for the learning that you will be doing? A lecture hall will not work for practical studio work.

  • Internships

When choosing which program to go with, finding one that offers an internship gives students an invaluable look into what it is actually like to work in the industry. This might be the perfect time to find out whether you actually do want to be an illustrator or whether a different path it better.

  • Modern Technology and Varied Content

Graphic design occupies an ever-changing industry, and students will want to attend a program that can keep up with those ever-changing trends. Having a wide variety of content to choose from also helps a student form a personalized program of study.

Where to Study in Alaska

Due to its remote location, there is only one choice for someone considering pursuing a career as a graphic designer in Alaska. Luckily, it is a well-rounded program that can prepare students for graduate school elsewhere or perfectly prepare them for a career right after graduation.

University of Alaska – Anchorage

The University of Alaska’s Anchorage campus is located in Alaska’s largest city. Anchorage is located in the central south of Cook Inlet and boasts a population of just under 300,000 people. It is considered a gateway to many nearby wilderness areas, and its unique location affords students access to significant industry connections.

The four-year Art Bachelor Degree is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Program faculty and instructors are all active and accomplished artists who have built their careers within Alaska and beyond.

During their course of studies, students will be able to explore many different artistic disciplines as well as gain a foundational understanding of graphic design. Some of the topics students can expect to encounter are drawing, color design, ceramics, metalsmithing, graphic design, computer art, illustration, Alaska native arts, digital art and design and experimental drawing.

The department of art boasts small class sizes of only 14 that allow students to enjoy a personalized experience and one on one support during their four years in the program. Students must complete 120 credits of which 42 must be made up of upper-division courses.

Students will begin their four-year journey by building a foundation of 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional art techniques. As they move through to the upper year, they will add classes in art history and choose a concentration; this is where they will focus on graphic design. Along with their concentration, they will have the opportunity to explore other artistic concepts as well. All students are encouraged to complete an internship during their program, which allows them to gain invaluable working experience prior to graduating.

The fine arts building within the UAA boasts nine specialized studios equipped with state-of-the-art iMac computers, a CNC Router, 3-D printers and traditional and digital printmaking software.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

Sometimes working in what most consider remote locations has its benefits. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average expected salary is $59,990 which is higher than the national average of $53,380. Graphic designers in Alaska generally start out around $35,130, and with time and education, some designers report making up to $99,520.

Anchorage actually comes in eighth in a list of top ten cities when it comes to salary. Graphic designers working in this city will make the most money with an even higher average salary of 68,000. In non-urban areas, designers can expect to make around $44,890.

Growth outlook does not look too impressive in this state, with an expected ten openings from 2018 to 2028, but once you take population into account, this is actually a growth of eight percent which is higher than the national average.

For someone who has grown up in Alaska and is passionate about contributing to their community, working as a graphic designer here can be quite rewarding. While options are limited, you still have an excellent educational opportunity and chance to start a career.