Becoming a Graphic Designer in Louisiana

Graphic designers combine artwork with technology to create graphics, advertisements, logos, and more for their clientele. The best graphic designers have excellent art skills, creative thinking skills, marketing expertise and problem-solving skills. In this technological age, graphic design is key to advertising and marketing.

Graphic designers are involved in each phase of the creative process from start to finish. Some graphic designers work in various niches, while others concentrate on a specific area like advertising or logos if you’re artistic, creative, and have a knack for digital processes, graphic design may be a promising career for you.

Requirements for Louisiana Graphic Designers

There aren’t any state or federal regulations in Louisiana that you need to work on to get started as a graphic designer. This means that there are no certification or education requirements to meet nationally or statewide. Employers usually determine work requirements. Graphic designers have two main career options: working for a design firm or other company or independently as a freelance graphic designer.

Most graphic design companies and advertising agencies require their employees to have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or fine arts. This is because specific skills and knowledge of certain software programs are necessary to work in this profession and completing a four-year degree program ensures that the employee has acquired these skills. If you decide to go the freelance route, you don’t necessarily have to have a degree, but obtaining one will demonstrate your competency and help you attract clientele who value effort and professional skills.

Most art schools have admission requirements, especially if you consider a bachelor’s in fine arts (BFA) degree. Taking art classes in high school or at a two-year college can also help prepare you for the degree program. You will also need to submit a portfolio before graduating – so the more time you have to build that, the better your prospects are of finding a job later on.

Best Colleges in Louisiana for Graphic Design

Several colleges in Louisiana offer graphic design programs. The leading graphic design programs have been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD). Accredited programs ensure that students receive fundamental skills and training and follow the standards for graphic design. Completing an accredited program will show future employees and clients that you are serious about your education, quality, and progress.

Check out the following programs that are certified in Louisiana:

LSU College of Art + Design

Located in Baton Rouge, the LSU College of Art and Design offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree specializing in graphic design. This program challenges aspiring graphic designers to master aesthetic, conceptual, presentation, social and technological skills. This college is ranked 25th among overall colleges and 5th among colleges in the South for graphic design by the Animation Career Review.

The BFA program consists of 120 credit hours, starting with 18 credit hours of foundational courses during the student’s first year. Coursework includes branding, digital imaging, editorial design, environmental design, identity design, illustration, information design, motion graphics, packaging and typography. Students can also complete an internship for course credit during their junior or senior year. In the student’s senior year, they will also complete a senior graphic design project that involves student-directed research. Seniors will also have the opportunity to display their senior projects at an exhibition.

Louisiana Tech University- School of Design

Louisiana Tech University is in Ruston. Louisiana Tech is known for its diversity, and students also can study abroad. The Louisiana Tech School of Design partners with smaller and larger companies to help graduates find jobs both in Louisiana and elsewhere. Students receive specialized training for their career of choice and graduate training if they choose to continue their education and get a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in art or graphic design. The coursework is built on the foundations of the arts, English, foreign languages, history and social sciences.

The Louisiana Tech School of Design offers a BFA in graphic design. Students can learn how to become professional artists and the ethical practices of art while being mentored by faculty who are active architects, artists, designers, and scholars. The classrooms and equipment are regularly updated with the latest technology so that students have the most updated information needed to excel in a career in graphic design.

Louisiana Tech School of Design students will learn creative and problem-solving skills and design solutions while working with a team. Students can also participate in local and national exhibitions and design industry tours.

Nicholls State University

Nicholls State University in beautiful Thibodaux offers a BFA in Art with a concentration in graphic design. Graphic design is the most extensive concentration program in the Department of Art at Nicholls State. The coursework consists of 120-138 credit hours, including 24 credit hours of art courses, 21 credit hours of English, math and science courses, and the remaining credit hours are concentration courses and electives. Also, every graphic design student will get an internship with an area business or design firm as part of the program.

The graphic design studio at Nicholls has a computer lab that includes a sound and video workstation, vinyl cutter, large Apple TV display screens, Apple workstations with Adobe Creative Suite, and Cinema 4D. The graphic design studio also contains a LuLab, which is a large print lab. It includes two workstations, a laser printer, and a large-format Epson printer. The graphic design program at Nicholls prepares students for a career in various fields, including advertising, animation, art direction, commercial illustration, digital media, greeting card design, historic preservation, promotional design, retail management and technical illustration.

Northwestern State University

Northwestern State University in Natchitoches also provides students with the option of getting a BFA in Art with a concentration in graphic design. Before declaring art as a major, students must first take three core art classes and pass a faculty review. Then they must submit a portfolio for review that consists of ten digital images of ten physical pieces of art.

The BFA degree program is comprised of 120 credit hours. These credits include the core art courses mentioned above, general education credit hours in English, math and science, humanities and arts electives, and concentration courses.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette

The Department of Visual Arts at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has a BFA degree in Graphic Design made up of 120 credit hours. The program combines print production and digital design instruction with critical thinking and research foundations. Students in the graphic design program can expect to find a career in the following fields: media design and production, magazine and book design, editorial design, interactive design, online design, art and creative directors, and more.

The on-campus graphic design studio contains the following equipment: a high-resolution scanner, a full tabloid color printer, a large-format color printer, a monochromatic printer, four Macintosh workstations, photography equipment, graphic design work for class presentations and a sign maker press.

Career Prospects and Salary Expectations

According to Projections Central, the profession of graphic design will see a growth of 3.1 percent between 2018 and 2028, or almost 9,000 jobs nationally. There are an average of a little more than 30,000 job openings in this field annually. However, in Louisiana, job growth in this field is declining. It is only slightly decreasing at –2.6 percent by 2028. But this does not mean that there won’t be any new job openings. Jobs will still become available as other graphic designers retire, relocate or change careers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that nationally, graphic designers make an average of $59,970 annually or $28.83 hourly. Graphic designers in Louisiana make slightly less than the national average, at $20.49 an hour, or $42,630 annually. However, this is still a decent wage, and graphic designers with more experience and certifications are likely to make more than the statewide average.

Working in Louisiana as a Graphic Designer

Most graphic designers work for advertising firms, design companies or public relations firms. The federal government is also a high-paying employer for graphic designers. Some graphic designers also choose to work as freelancers, which means they work for themselves. If you would rather work as a freelancer, you will have the freedom to set your own hours and rates and choose your clients.

Some employment choices in Louisiana include the State of Louisiana, Pearson, United Health Group and Capital City Press. Since freelancers have the flexibility of working from almost anywhere, it doesn’t matter where in the state you live if you choose that career path. However, if you prefer traditional employment, you are most likely to find work in the larger, more populated cities like Baton Rouge, Lafayette and New Orleans.

If you are interested in working as a graphic designer in Louisiana, it would be wise to start by completing an accredited graphic design or art program offered in the state. Doing so will ensure that you gain the experience and education you will need for this career. The more knowledge you gain working as a graphic designer, the more employment availability you will likely have, and your earning potential will increase.