How to Become a Graphic Designer in Georgia?

Graphic design is a career that incorporates creative design and technology to communicate ideas through electronic and print media visually. If you enjoy working with computer software programs and using your artistic and creative skills, then working as a graphic designer in Georgia could be a great career opportunity for you.

Graphic designers may create advertisements, brochures, logos, flyers, magazines, marketing materials, websites, and more to communicate a message to their clients. They create designs to promote events or brands or share information about a specific product, organization or charitable groups and events.

Graphic design is a rewarding career in high demand and rapidly growing in Georgia.

What are the Requirements to Work as a Graphic Designer in Georgia?

Since the government does not regulate the graphic design career, there are no set certification, education, or training requirements to work in this field. However, work requirements for graphic designers are set by employers and generally include having a four-year degree in graphic design or other fine arts fields. Most employers prefer someone who has experience with various software programs used for graphic design.

You also have the option of working as a freelance graphic designer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 19 percent of graphic designers are self-employed. If you are self-employed, you don’t necessarily need to have a degree in graphic design, but education and training will help you establish credibility and draw in new clients.

If you enroll in a graphic design or art degree program, most schools and even some degree programs have admission requirements. If you can take any art classes in high school or at the junior college level before starting your degree program, you should. Doing so will help you build a portfolio that can help when enrolling in specific degree programs. It can also help when looking for employment after completing your secondary education.

Accredited Graphic Design Programs in Georgia

The best graphic design programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD). This means that the program meets the highest guidelines and standards of graphic design. There are a few schools in Georgia that offer NASAD accredited graphic design programs.

Augusta University

Located in Augusta, Augusta University offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree with a major in art with a concentration in Graphic Design. The Graphic design program at Augusta utilizes the latest developments in technology and has a strong focus on client interaction.

The BFA in Graphic Design consists of 124 credit hours. This includes 42 credit hours of general education and 18 credit hours of art prep courses, including Drawing I, Two-Dimensional Design, Three-Dimensional Design, Art History I and II, and Color Experience and Theory. It also includes 60 credit hours that are art-focused, including Photography, Printmaking, Graphic Design, Illustration, Design Thinking, Tactile and Motion Graphics, Web and Mobile Applications Environments, Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art, Graphic Design through History and a Senior Project. Students will also choose four additional art courses that will make up 12 credit hours, six credit hours of studio art electives, and an additional art history course. Transfer students must complete four credit hours that make up the wellness requirement to graduate.

Finally, students in this program must pass the Senior Exhibition to graduate. They will also be required to pass a portfolio review before participating in the Senior Exhibit, and both are needed to graduate. Portfolio reviews are conducted at the end of the fall and spring semesters after students have completed the following courses: Drawing I, Two-Dimensional Design and Three-Dimensional Design. Students must submit 15 studio works in their portfolio, consisting of two- and three-dimensional works.

Columbus State University

Columbus State University is in Columbus, the second-largest city in Georgia. CSU has a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree program where students can choose graphic design as their area of concentration.

CSU’s BFA program is a four-year degree program comprised of 123 credit hours. This program is designed to help students develop their creative skills while equipping them for graduate school or a career in an art-related field. The BFA program is well-rounded, with more than 50 percent of the coursework consisting of art history, supportive art courses and studio courses.

Students enrolled in the BFA program must submit a portfolio showcasing their art and design skills to remain enrolled in the program. First-year students who do not yet have a portfolio may enroll in the B.A. degree program, submit a portfolio, and apply to the BFA program later in their first year.

Students must also complete an exhibit review and a professional capstone Thesis Exhibition before graduation. A grade of “C” or higher is required for all major-related courses to remain in the program.

Georgia Southern University

The Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art at Georgia State University, located in Statesboro, provides aspiring graphic artists with the opportunity to earn a BFA in graphic design. The graphic design degree prepares students to think critically to solve commercial, cultural, and social communication problems with solutions such as branding systems, motion sequences, publications, advertising, architectural signage and websites.

At the Statesboro campus, graphic design students will have access to many resources and tools, including Mac computers labs, plotters and printers, a photography studio, SLR digital cameras, laser cutters and engravers, Adobe suite and 3D printers.

Georgia State University

Atlanta is the home of many historical and cultural attractions, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, the Georgia State Capitol, the National Center for Civil and Human rights, Centennial Olympic Park, the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum, the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum, the High Museum of Art and the Museum of Design Atlanta. Atlanta is also where Georgia State University is located.

The principles of graphic design are best learned through problem-solving, and this program encourages students to think creatively while exploring history, philosophy, contemporary cultural issues and media experimentation.

Coursework includes Introduction to Graphic Design, Print and Editorial Design, Design for Education, Interactive Design, Motion Design and Timed Media, Graphic Design in Popular Culture, Corporate Identity Design, Professional Practices in Graphic Design, Graphic Design through Advertising and Typography. Students will also get the opportunity to participate in local, regional, national and international internships.

University of Georgia

The BFA in Graphic Design at the Lamar Dodd School of Art, located at the University of Georgia, combines art and technology to help students solve problems conceptually and visually. Coursework includes typography, photography, electronic design, color techniques, three-dimensional design, illustration and graphic survey.

In the career field of graphic design, it’s often better to specialize in a specific area rather than generally work across all fields. Therefore, students are encouraged to concentrate on one particular area of focus in graphic design, such as typography or illustrations. This will depend on what elective courses and projects the student participate in during their senior year.

Students are required to have their own Apple Mac laptop, and it is recommended that they purchase a digital camera for coursework use. Also, students in graphic design must maintain a C or better average in all major-related courses and complete a graphic design portfolio review.

There is also a limited space graphic design program taught abroad in Cortona, Italy, during the summer semester. Interested students must be currently enrolled in the BFA in Graphic Design program and speak to the area chair of graphic design to be considered for the abroad program.

Outlook and Salaries for Georgia Graphic Designers

The job outlook for graphic designers throughout the U.S. is slow but continues to grow steadily. The overall job rate growth for graphic designers in the U.S. is three percent. However, the growth rate is higher in several states, including Georgia. 

According to Projections Central, Georgia is expected to see a six percent job growth increase for graphic designers over the next few years. There are currently 7,720 graphic designers employed in the state. This number is expected to grow to 8,180 by 2028.

The median annual salary for graphic designers is $53,380 nationally. The top earners can make as much as $93,440 annually. Specialized design services, advertising, and public relations are the highest paying fields for graphic designers, and printing services are the lowest paying. Graphic designers in Georgia make a mean hourly wage of $27.71, or $57,630 annually.

 How to Find Work as a Graphic Designer in Georgia

The job outlook for graphic designers in Georgia is excellent, so those looking to work as graphic designers in the state should not have much trouble finding employment, especially if they have the education and experience with software. Graphic designers often work with a team of other designers at design companies or firms to create content for their clients. As an alternative, graphic designers may also choose to be self-employed and work as freelance graphic artists.

In Georgia, the Atlanta/Sandy Springs/Roswell region has some of the highest employment levels for graphic designers statewide and nationally. Graphic designers in this region make an average of $28.74 an hour, or $59,780 annually. If you are interested in working as a graphic designer in Georgia, start with an accredited art degree program mentioned above. This will provide you with the education and experience you need and allow you to hone your creative skills.