Studying Graphic Design in Idaho

Graphic design is a form of visual art through which an artist can communicate ideas or thoughts. The field is quite advanced today, with plenty of technological tools to efficiently express concepts and breathe life into a host of inanimate artistic elements like images, text, graphs and tables. You must have a creative mind to succeed as a graphic designer since those who need your services expect you to deliver unique, original and sensible messaging with your artwork.

What Does a Professional Graphic Designer Do?

Artists like you have played a massive role in the creation of some of the most influential and visually-stunning graphics you’ve seen in various advertisements, billboards and product packaging to date. On numerous occasions, corporate companies will hire you to help tell a compelling visual story to their clients. To meet or exceed their expectations, you’ll need to harness your creativity and natural artistic powers to produce the requested work by hand, using design software or both.

Helping marketers and promoters sell products isn’t the only role you can shine in as a graphic designer. To help people easily read and understand complex sets of data and statistics, your job may entail creating attention-grabbing infographics for specific audiences. The ability to apply proportion, negative space and color effectively will prove handy should you accept this type of work. You also have the power to educate or inform using visuals, which organizations involved in educating or raising awareness can utilize for the greater good of society.

Your graphic design skills and input can be helpful in these other specific applications:

  • Business logos
  • Brochure/magazine design
  • Branding
  • Landscaping design
  • Art exhibition design

Why Study Graphic Design?

When it comes to graphic design, your portfolio says a lot about your talent, experience and technical qualifications for this line of work. Perhaps, it does that much better than any college paper ever could. You can get a job solely based on it, but you can’t always count on your previous work when competing with applicants with the prerequisite education and a stellar portfolio to boot.

Having a degree in graphic design can boost your competitiveness in the job market in ways such as:

  • Some employers prioritize designers with a degree besides raw creative talent.
  • A graphics design degree is a structured program that teaches the art, science and professionalism behind the practice. It’ll give you valuable experience through assignments, tests, and projects, giving you a headstart over fellow creators waiting to learn key concepts on the job.
  • A degree can boost your earning potential and help fast-track your way up the corporate ladder.

Jobs, Salaries and Career Outlook

Don’t be discouraged by the slower-than-average job growth rate (3%) that the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) assigns to graphic design. Professionals in the sector still have a decent employability rate. They boast unique multidisciplinary skills that apply across industries, from public relations and advertising to specialty design, architecture, and a host of service industries. No wonder Idaho is projected to add 23,900 graphic design jobs annually between 2020 and 2030.

In the state, the mean hourly and annual wages for graphic designers for 2021 were $21.82 and $45,390, respectively. The profession has one of the most impressive average rates of pay rise (8.6%) in the state, which isn’t bad at all for new employees. Here are some graphic design positions currently available in Idaho:

Job TitleQualificationsEstimated Annual Salary/Benefits
Marketing DesignerBachelor’s degree in graphics designPerks include: 12% employer-sponsored retirement plan75% employer-sponsored health insuranceDental insurance
Production DesignerBachelor’s degree in graphic arts or design$52,500
Graphic DesignerDiploma or bachelor’s degree in graphic arts or design$49,800
Production DesignerBachelor’s degree in graphic arts or design$52,500

Top Graphic Design Schools in Idaho

Generally, if you wish to eventually attain a recognized degree in graphic design or fine arts, avoid starting with a certificate or diploma course that’s not NASAD-accredited. Most unaccredited courses aren’t recognizable pathways to an accredited undergraduate or postgraduate degree program. 

Boise State University

Boise State University offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Graphic Design degree course at Boise. The Department of Art, which is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), manages the four-year program within its expansive instructional and exhibition spaces on campus. To qualify for the graphic design degree course, you should be a student at the university and have completed 37 credits of foundational courses that include western art and creative photography.

Other entry requirements include:

  • Cumulative GPA of at least 2.5 in 24 hours of completed coursework at the university
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 in art and art history
  • C- or above in all art and art history courses

You should complete 120 credits to graduate with a graphic design degree at the institution. That includes 83 credits from major courses, which cover practical art studio sessions in core subjects like illustration, visual design and printmaking.

The basic tuition fee structure for on-campus students is as follows:

  • Full tuition fees of $4,030 per semester if you have completed 11 or more credits
  • $366.64 per credit hour for students who have completed 10 or fewer credits

University of Idaho

If your dream is to become a versatile creative designer, consider applying to the

College of Art and Architecture at the University of Idaho in Moscow. A Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Studio Art and Design is one of the multiple pathways available at the institution to earn a decent living as a graphic designer. The program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and incorporates various art disciplines to create a better,  all-rounded creator.

Since it was re-established in 2005, the College of Art and Architecture has enjoyed solid relationships with major industry stakeholders. These professional and academic networks have over the years, facilitated career-boosting internships for graphic design students and others at the University of Idaho. Before graduating, you’ll have a chance to try out your creative skills at a museum, public agency, art exhibition or private firm in the realms of architecture and interior design.  

The full program requires the completion of 120 major credits, including mandatory courses like art and design studio and professional practices. You’ll also cover visual studies and design processes during the four-year course. Graphics design isn’t the program’s core focus, however. Other areas of emphasis include ceramics, sculpture art and printmaking.  

You can only join the professional phase of the BFA program after attaining a minimum 2.75 GPA in 200-level art courses during your first and second years at the University of Idaho. Your application must include your art portfolio and transcripts for review by the admission team. Once you’re accepted, you should complete 300- and 400-level art subjects, which require a grade of C or better and a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 to let you into the final part of your BFA studies. Full-time students pay $695.00 per semester for the four-year degree program.

North Idaho College (NIC)

Based in Coeur d’Alene, North Idaho College offers multiple routes to a career in graphic design. The programs aren’t your typical “fine arts” courses as they have a narrow, digital focus. They’re worth your consideration if you’d like to work in fields like print advertising, web design, user experience design, animation, new media and packaging. Here’s a look at the programs:

  • Intermediate Technical Certificate in Graphic and Web Design: This is a two-semester course that introduces the basics of web and graphic design. The digitally-focused program constitutes 32-34 total credits and covers popular design software like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
  • Advanced Technical Certificate in Graphic and Web Design: In four semesters, you’ll go beyond the fundamentals and explore more interesting and advanced subjects like computer animation and user experience design. The program comprises 62-64 total credits, three of which you’ll attain after completing your graphic design internship.
  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Graphic and Web Design: It takes four semesters and 68-70 total credits to complete this graphic design program. Before graduating, you’ll study additional special courses designated by the college, such as stress management.

NIC requires the following to enroll students in these graphic and web design programs:

  • Proof of high school graduation (official transcript)
  • A minimum of 2.0 GPA in current courses attained at NIC
  • In-person interviews with program coordinators

Also, you need at least one of the following for Math and English placement (test scores must be recent):

  • A minimum SAT score of 440 in Maths and 370 in English
  • A minimum ACT score of 16 in Maths and 12 in English
  • A minimum ALEKS score of 14 in Math (for placement)
  • A score of 3 or above on the Write Class English test
  • Valid college transcripts proving you passed English and Maths courses 

Program costs depend on the number of credits completed, with residents paying $141.50 per credit. Additional fees include $31 (health services) and $123 (instructional technology).