Becoming a Graphic Designer in Maine

Maine is well-known for its beautiful rocky coast, state and national parks, mountains, lighthouses and seafood. There are an array of exciting things to do and places to visit in this wild state, including its capital, Augusta, and towns like Bar Harbor, Portland and Kennebunk. While winters can be intense in Maine, people continue to travel to the state throughout all four seasons. It’s an excellent destination for summer beach bumming, winter skiing, hiking and more.

What You Need to Become a Graphic Designer in Maine?

Maine is home to some popular graphic design companies, including the Portland Design Co. The state has a rich background and foundation in tourism as well as lucrative industries such as fishing, electronic equipment, healthcare and more. All of these industries require marketing of some kind, which is where graphic design comes in as a lucrative career choice.

While a degree in graphic design isn’t necessary to pursue the career, it definitely helps. Most companies look for a BA at the very least, as earning a degree shows not only dedication but an understanding of the newest techniques and software in the industry. Graphic design is all about communication, and attending a college – especially in a state you plan on living in for a while – is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door. College internships, partnerships and lecture series are a great way to get in touch with future clients and prospective employers.

A graphic design degree from a Maine college or university will go a long way in setting you up for success.

Career Outlook for Graphic Design

With a projection of just 3% job growth over the next decade, graphic design is one of the slower-growing careers – beneath the national average. However, there are about 23,000 job openings projected each year.

The average salary for a graphic designer in Maine is $46,000 per year, with the high end of the spectrum landing at $77,000. Portland, Maine, in particular, has an entry-level salary of $55,000 for this career path.

The Best Graphic Design Schools in Maine

Despite its small size, the state has over 31 universities and colleges. Comprised of both two and four-year schools, these colleges and universities are a great option for students looking to experience New England in either rural or city settings. If you love the outdoors and a dose of New England history, check out some of the best schools in Maine that offer graphic design programs.

Maine College of Art & Design

The Maine College of Art was voted among the top ten artistic towns nationwide, and for a good reason. It is the state’s oldest arts educational institution and has a 70% acceptance rate.

Maine College of Art, or MECA&D, focuses on making art and making a living. Although students are encouraged to explore, they must also meet the demands of the educational curriculum as well. MECA&D describes their academic environment as “intimate.” The college has an enrollment of about 500 students a year and a 10:1 student to teacher ratio.

MECA&D’s campus is located in the heart of Portland. On the first Friday of each month, the town’s art galleries and studios open their doors for the Art Walk. Students can find inspiration around every corner; historical buildings, beaches, state parks and distinct neighborhoods make for a vibrant life here.

The four residence halls on campus allow students to live in single, double, suite and apartment-style rooms. Students can involve themselves in multiple clubs like the Fiber Arts Group, Gardening Club, Green Team, Helping Our People to Equality, Running club, and more.

MECA&D offers a BFA in Graphic Design. To apply for admission to the college, students must supply a personal statement, transcripts, two letters of recommendation and a portfolio. The portfolio must contain between 15 and 20 pieces of artwork for consideration.

The graphic design program focuses on concepts, voice and understanding your audience to ensure that students have all the tools they need before they even approach a design. The curriculum seeks to connect graphic design to other disciplines in both analog and digital forms.

Courses available to prospective students include Motive, Method, Making; Branding and Visual Systems; Studio Electives and Independent Projects. There are around 20-30 students majoring in the BFA in Graphic Design each year at MECA&D.

University of Maine

The University of Maine is situated just north of Bangor and not far from the coast. It is the flagship university of the University of Maine System, which includes seven public universities across the state.

Just under 10,000 students attend UMaine at their 660-acre campus. UMaine was named one of The Princeton Review’s top 50 green colleges and was designated as an arboretum in 2003. The student-to-teacher ratio is 16:1 across almost 100 majors, minors and other programs.

On-campus housing is available for incoming and continuing students. The 19 residence halls span from traditional undergraduate housing to suite-style housing. Students also have summer housing if they intend to enroll in at least one Summer University class on campus.

The campus includes a pool at the rec center, trips to Broadway shows, live artists, visits to museums, and a variety of men’s and women’s sports to participate in or watch. Social life on UMaine’s campus is thriving, even in a rural setting.

The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at UMaine offers a minor in Graphic Design. Students will learn about design history, cultural studies and communication to prepare for a professional career in the industry. Internships are encouraged, and the university has several organizations for graphic design students to get involved in.

Students interested in the graphic design minor can choose from the following degree programs to obtain under BFA in Studio Art, BA in Art History, BA in Art Education and BA in Studio Art.

Eastern Maine Community College

Bangor, Maine, is a favorite destination for those visiting the state. The city showcases a statue of Paul Bunyan, the Maine Discovery Museum, the University of Maine Museum of Art and countless hiking trails. It’s also home to Eastern Maine Community College, which offers students one- and two-year degree programs.

Eastern Maine Community College is an excellent option for students interested in starting small and transferring their education out when they’re sure they want to pursue graphic design. The 72-acre campus is close to shopping, public transportation and necessities. Two residence halls are available for out-of-state students and a dining commons, library, tech center and gym.

Of the 30+ programs available, an associate in applied science in Digital Graphic Design is included. This degree is also quite suitable for students who want to get their foot in the door with more than just self-taught skills or who want to pursue a higher degree of education after attending Eastern Maine Community College.

The only requirement for this program is a prerequisite in Algebra 1. Courses include Commercial Photography, Web Application & Development, Introduction to Photoshop, Intro to Page Layout & Design, Professional Business Practices and more.

University of New England – Biddeford Campus

The University of New England is a private university with campuses in Portland and Biddeford and a campus in Tangier, Morocco. UNE has over 70 academic programs and a 13:1 student-faculty ratio. Within one year of graduating, 93% of graduates are employed. UNE was also recognized as one of the Best Colleges by both the US News & World Report and The Princeton Review.

Set in a suburban area, the University of New England enrolls about 4,000 students a year. The Biddeford campus has six first-year residence halls as well as upperclassman housing suite-style. It’s easy to stay engaged at UNE as the university has 18 athletic teams competing in the NCAA Division III, 18 club sports teams and over 80 student clubs and organizations.

The BA in Art and Design Media at UNE prepares students for a career in modern-day digital media. Classes blend traditional and contemporary approaches to art and design, and the program allows for double majors and minors. Classes in this degree program are made up of 15 or fewer students.

UNE also encourages their BA in Art and Design Media students to get involved with the community and local arts scenes. They integrate medical and science faculty to study scientific illustration and connect students to internships as well. A handful of minors are available at UNE, including a minor in Communications, which helps students understand not only the history of communication but how culture and society play a role in and are affected by design.  

To be a part of this degree program, students need to complete the College of Arts and Sciences Core Curriculum. Courses and electives for the BA itself include Graphic Design, Studio Concentration, Fundamentals of Web Design, Printmaking, Boatbuilding, The Painted Book, 3D Printing, Digital Animation and more. Students who graduate from this program can use their “commercially viable skills with broad applicability” to jump into the graphic design job market and make lucrative earnings.