Becoming a Graphic Designer in Florida

If you are interested in a job that utilizes your creativity and technological skills, you may enjoy a career in graphic design. A graphic designer creates advertisements, logos, images and more for companies, organizations and brands. They use drawing programs, photo editing software and other programs to develop their designs.

You don’t need any licensing or certification to become a graphic designer, but a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or another fine arts field is usually required for employment. As a graphic designer in Florida, you may work for an advertising or design company or a publishing company. Many graphic designers are self-employed, and either own a business or work as freelancers.

What You Need to Become a Graphic Designer

In most states, including Florida, the career of a graphic designer is not regulated on a federal or state level. Employers generally set the guidelines, which include a degree in graphic design or fine arts and experience using design software.

If you’re able, take any art design or computer classes available to you at a high school or junior college level before enrolling in a graphic design program. Once you start taking classes, keep up with all your creative ideas and designs in a portfolio. A professional portfolio shows your creativity, skill, and talent and can help you when looking for a job after graduating.

The following skills are helpful if you wish to work as a graphic designer:

  • Analytical skills- Graphic designers should be able to design work from their customer’s point of view.
  • Artistic skill and creativity- The customer will usually have an idea of what they want, but it’s up to the graphic designer to artistically bring those ideas to life.
  • Communication skills- Graphic designers must communicate effectively with their clients.
  • Computer skills- Graphic design is primarily done through software programs, so computer literacy is necessary.
  • Time-management skills- Graphic designers should have the ability to balance several projects that have different deadlines.

The Best Graphic Design Programs in Florida

The National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD) is the accrediting agency for graphic design and other art and design schools. Completing an accredited program guarantees that students will get the training needed to prepare them for graphic design careers. Most accredited programs will teach students commercial graphics production, computerized design, printing techniques, studio art and website design. There are several NASAD accredited graphic design programs available at Florida learning institutions.

Florida International University (FIU), Miami

The department of Art and Art History at FIU offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Digital Arts degree focusing on graphic design. The program consists of 120 credit hours, and transfers students may transfer up to 60 credit hours. Students must also submit a portfolio containing 20 images when applying to the program.

This in-depth program covers contemporary design strategy and graphic design theory. The curriculum consists of typography and design courses that focus on social media and strategic branding. The BFA in Digital Arts Graphic Design track provides students with state-of-the-art design courses to help them succeed in a career in graphic design.

Program prerequisites are completing lower-division courses, including 2-D and 3-D design, beginning drawing and figure drawing with a combined GPA of 2.75 or higher.

Florida State University (FSU)- Tallahassee

At FSU, the College of Fine Arts Department of Art provides students with the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in Studio Art with a concentration on digital media. The BA degree is for students who are interested in an art career but also want to explore other avenues of study. The BFA degree is for students who solely wish to pursue a career in an artistic field.

This program is designed to help students learn the importance of digital technology to create and produce art. The graphic design program at FSU is crafted around four variants:

  • Text and Media- combines photography, printmaking, and other printed objects using printers, paper cutters, vinyl cutters and other special equipment.
  • Interactive- focuses on web-based artwork combined with animation, sculpture and other forms of media.
  • Digital Fabrication- concentrates on creating digital and physical sculptural art using 3-D modeling.
  • Time-Based- students develop 2D and 3D animation, motion graphics, stop-motion art and video.

The graphic design teaching classrooms and labs have various tools and equipment, including Adobe Creative Cloud, Arduino, video projection, HD video cameras, tripods, scanners, light and sound equipment, laser cutters, and 3D printers.

Students in the graphic design degree program at FSU will need to purchase their own laptops for classwork and assignments. The computer must meet specific operating system and memory requirements for students to succeed in the courses.

New World School of the Arts(NWSA)- Miami

The Visual Arts program at the NWSA provides students with a chance to train under the leadership of practicing artists. This program focuses on digital, graphic and visual arts. Students explore new media and study the works of both contemporary and classic artists.

Internships and educational opportunities are available to students through partnerships with non-profit art-related organizations. Students also can participate in international student exchange programs in places like Italy, Mexico and Spain. NWSA also holds an Art Basel show annually in the artistically historical area of Wynwood.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree focused on graphic design is a four-year degree that consists of 129 credit hours, including 33 hours of general education courses. Coursework includes Art History, Drawing, 2D and 3D Design, Typography and Web Design.

University of Tampa

At The University of Tampa, graphic design students choose to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Design (BA) or pre-Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design (BFA). The BA is challenging but is a broader curriculum program and combines artistic education with the student’s choice of a concentration in business, humanities or social sciences. This allows students to focus their education on graphic design while specializing in another area of study. Coursework includes Art History, the Foundations of Drawing and Design, Graphic Design, Fabrication Design and Typography. Other coursework will be dependent upon the student’s choice of specialization.

The BFA in Graphic Design is crafted for students seeking a professional art and design career. The BFA is more rigorous and professionally oriented than the BA program. It is also an invitation-only program. Students may enroll as pre-BFA in Graphic Design but must complete ART 299, which is a portfolio review. If they make a B or higher on the portfolio review, they will be invited to continue pursuing a BFA in Graphic Design. The coursework is similar to that of the BA but goes more in-depth. Professional internships are also available to BFA students.

Ringling College of Art and Design

The Ringling College of Art and Design, located in Sarasota, is one of the top graphic design schools globally and is ranked number two in the South for art schools. Students interested in Graphic Design may pursue a Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) in Graphic Design degree. Coursework includes 36 general education credit hours, Art and Design History, more than 70 credit hours of graphic design coursework and electives, and an internship. Examples of classes include 2, 3 and 4D design, Typography, Graphic Design, Visual Persuasion and New Media.

This diverse and highly competitive program is built around typography and encourages students to think outside the box in terms of design. In-house and external internships are available, in addition to events and exhibitions where students can show off their talent and skill. Some employers of Ringling alumni include Facebook, Disney and Nickelodeon. The program trains students to succeed in careers such as Advertising Design, Brand Consulting, Book Design, Digital Imaging, Motion Graphics, Virtual Graphics, and more.

Salary and Career Outlook for Graphic Designers

According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) data, the national median salary for graphic designers is $53,380 annually, with the top-earning designers making as much as $93,440. The job field is growing at a national rate of 3 percent.

Graphic designers in Florida earn an average of $24.81 an hour, or $51,610 annually. The field of graphic design in Florida is increasing at almost three times the national rate at 8.6 percent, with over 1,500 new graphic design jobs expected to be available in the state by the year 2028.

Florida is ranked fourth in the United States for high employment of graphic designers. Since most graphic designers’ work is computerized, location isn’t much of an issue, and jobs are available almost anywhere in the state. However, the cities of Ft. Lauderdale, Miami and West Palm Beach do have higher employment rates for this profession.

If you enjoy working with computers and designing things, you might want a career as a graphic designer. Graphic designers can work in various industries for employers ranging from design companies to television studios to famous brands, or they may work as freelance designers. If you are ready to begin your journey to becoming a graphic designer, several schools offer excellent accredited graphic design programs in Florida.