Becoming a Graphic Designer in Kansas

Graphic design is using art and science to transform an idea into a visual expression in order to pass across some information. If you are looking to become a graphic designer and want to take college courses, you have the option of two or four-year programs. These programs allow you to gain the BA (Bachelor of Arts) or BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) degree at the end of your study. Graphic designers train in college, take online courses or teach themselves to use design software by watching videos. 

Being a graphic designer may be about being able to express yourself and turn someone’s ideas into a good design. However, being a great designer has more elements than expression, especially in today’s world of commerce. You have to be able to incorporate other elements into your designs that make them stand out. You’ll also have to be more than just a good artist. Good design prowess alongside media, communication, branding and identity, research and process, art and graphic design history, information and data visualization and social innovation will help you succeed and stand out as a graphic designer. You’ll learn all of these and other courses in a graphic design school.

As a graphic designer, you can freelance or work in-house as part of a company’s design team. You can also use your skills to work in marketing, web design, animation or motion graphic design.

What is Required to Work as a Graphic Designer in Kansas?

In Kansas, there is no official requirement to become a graphic designer. However, several schools in Kansas have four-year, three-year or two-year degrees that you can pursue. Many jobs in the state prefer to hire a graphic designer with a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college. If you want to have a solid professional background in design, a graphic design school helps. The National Association of Schools of Arts and Design (NASAD) is responsible for accrediting graphic design programs in the US.

The requirements to enter the schools may vary, but there is always a need to have a portfolio. A portfolio is a collection of all your works to showcase your ability. To build your portfolio, you should learn to use various software to design. Software programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Canva and Adobe Illustrator are all great for design. As you become more professional and experienced as a graphic designer, you’ll get accustomed to more tools such as Blender for graphic design and visual representation.

Experience also increases your chances of getting into a good design school of your choice. You can look for internships in a graphic design company or work as an assistant to a graphic designer. You can also take online courses to learn the basics, such as those offered by Coursera and Udemy

The Best Graphic Design Schools and Programs in Kansas

Wichita State University– Wichita, Kansas

Wichita State University offers a 4-year BFA in graphic design. The program is created to prepare students for work in advertising agencies, creative teams and design studios. Students develop concepts using the principles of illustration, motion graphics and typography.

Wichita takes an applied learning educational approach where you will get the chance to work side by side with professionals in graphic designing to build your resume before graduating. You will learn through practical application of the knowledge acquired in the classrooms.

You must be already admitted into the school to apply for this program. Also, the graphic design degree is usually taken as a minor with another major degree.

Johnson County Community College – Johnson County, Kansas

This school will teach you graphic design by focusing on graphic processes, drawing and media methods, typography, layout design and visual messages, and production methods.

Part of your learning experience in the school will be creating a portfolio that will prepare you for the job market. This portfolio will help you get an internship for actual real-world experience.

While in this program, you can participate in a showcase for graphic design students to showcase your skills to potential employers. The program lasts for three years. After you have fulfilled all requirements, including 67 credit hours, you will get an Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Design degree. If you’d like to continue studying, you can use this degree to get into a four-year program at the University of Kansas.

University of Kansas– Lawrence, Kansas

The University of Kansas focuses on using creative thinking to help students create innovative designs. There are a lot of state-of-the-art facilities on the campus that students use to get experience in graphic design. Many prominent designers are attached to the school who lecture and host workshops that students can benefit from. Also, the school gives students the chance to collaborate with these prominent designers. While in this program, you will also have opportunities to do semester-long internships and programs abroad.

 The programs under design this school offers are:

  • Photography
  • Illustration
  • Industrial Design
  • Visual Communication
  • MA Design Management and Strategy
  • MA Interaction and User Experience Design

To apply to this school, you must submit a portfolio of 10-15 images of creative work and a personal essay. You should also have at least a 3.0 GPA and an SAT score of at least 1160. However, if your SAT score is between 1060 and below 1160, you will need a minimum of a 3.5GPA. Transfer students must submit a portfolio and have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.

Kansas Wesleyan University– Salina, Kansas

The graphic design program at Kansas Wesleyan University prepares you for the fast changes happening in the world of design. The curriculum in the school balances proficiency in design software with vital hand skills such as college, model making and drawing. It aims to provide you with a well-rounded grasp of graphic design.

Here is a four-year program that awards you a BA in design. You must submit a 500-word personal statement telling the admission committee who you are, pay an application fee of $30, submit a portfolio of 10-15 of your most recent works, and transcripts from every school you have attended. You will also have to submit your letter of recommendation, SAT or ACT scores, and then, at the final stage, you will take part in an interview,

Note that this school also has a graduate program in graphic design that you can pursue after completing the undergraduate one.

McPherson College – McPherson, Kansas

The graphic design program at McPherson College gives you the chance to find your voice in design. This four-year program focuses on graphic design marketing, graphic design photography, studio art, and graphic design. This way, if you want to be a graphic designer by using your hands, a camera or a computer, there is an area for you to concentrate on and specialize.

If you are already doing another program, you can minor in graphic design or studio art. To be admitted into McPherson College, you will need to submit your high school GPA, SAT or ACT, and proof of completing a college-prep program.

You can also get an art teaching license from this school to combine teaching and design.

Outlook and Salary for Kansas Graphic Designers

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of graphic designers in the country is projected to grow by 11,000 jobs in 2026. The US mean wage for graphic designers is $54,680. However, this amount differs across all the states in the country.

In Kansas, its graphic designers earn around $46,270, which is less than the federal average. This amount may seem relatively low, but when you consider that the standard of living in Kansas is 16.9% less than the national average, it puts things into perspective. The housing cost in the state is even as low as 40.4% less than the federal average.

Still, in this state, if you get a top-level job, you can earn as high as $32.65 per hour, which is about $67,910 per year. As your experience in the field rises in 10 years, you could earn up to $18,000 more. Your pay could also be influenced by what city in the state you reside. In Wichita, you can earn around $53,823, and in Topeka, $53 415.

However, it’s essential to know that Graphic Design is a creative field with no boundaries to where you could work and what you could earn. You can get a remote opportunity anywhere in the world that pays as high as $100,000 or more while still living in Kansas. In today’s world, there are also opportunities for designers and creative artists to flourish in fields such as NFTs and Web3.

Working as a Graphic Designer in Kansas

Graphic design gives you the freedom to work wherever you want to. Most people may choose to be freelancers, but some may work in companies or brand agencies. The field is quite flexible, although advertising and marketing are some of the most common areas.

You can also work as an animator, concept artist, creative director, graphic designer and illustrator. Your degree can also be helpful in UX designing, and you can take a course in UX design and combine it with your knowledge of graphic design.

As a freelancer, you could earn a living from freelancing sites such as Fiverr, 99 designs, Solidgig, Project4hire and Envato. Here are the current job listings in Kansas:

  • Graphic and web design instructor, Bryan University, Remote, $95,000 to $141,000 yearly
  • Graphic designer, Biointellisense, Independent, $60,000 to $80,000 yearly
  • Graphic designer, North Coad Medical Supply LLC, Independence, $38,000 to $53,000
  • Graphics designer, Fingerprint for Success, Wichita, $35,000 to $49,000 yearly
  • Graphic designer, Caliber Financial Services, Mission, $43,000 to $58,000 yearly
  • Graphic designer, Cleveland University, Overland Park, $40,000 to $50,000
  • Graphic designer, ICF, Topeka, $40,000 to $56,000
  • Graphic designer, Midcontinent Communications, Lawrence, $38,000 to $53,000 yearly.
  • Graphic designer, Hanesbrands Inc, Manhattan (Kansas), $43,000 to $59,000 yearly
  • Graphic designer, Advisor Excel, Topeka, $35,000 – $50,000 yearly.