How To Become a Graphic Designer in New Mexico?

Becoming a graphic designer will quickly become an ideal life choice as several exciting design projects become available to you. You can expect to see a vast array of job titles and descriptions you will be qualified for in promotional needs of companies, motion graphics, digital artistry, logos and branding. Graphic designers help transform the landscape of electronic media, published work, and printed art.

New Mexico provides many areas you can apply yourself to, like utility companies, private design firms, high-end casinos and print shops that offer multiple services. There is always somewhere you can find yourself that fits what you are passionate about as a designer, not to mention the endless possibilities you can see when you offer your services across the internet through freelancing and entrepreneurship.

Annual Salary For Graphic Designers In New Mexico

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the annual salary for a graphic designer in New Mexico is $44,100, while the median salary for the rest of the country is $50,710 or $24.38 an hour. The job market for graphic designers is to see a slow but steady growth increase of 3% over the next ten years.

The median income of the entire state, regardless of title, is $44,968, so if you desire to stay in New Mexico, graphic design could help you meet the income requirements to live a comfortable life. The cost of living staggers at 11.6 percent lower than the national average making the wage gap easier to plan for.

Top Paying Industries For Graphic Designers

Graphic designers will find high employment levels in specialized services such as design firms, public relations and advertising. In addition, however, there is high-end clientele you can serve in book publishing, software creation, promotion and advertisement for large corporations, central banking and government agencies.

Accredited programs for Graphic Design

There are no education requirements needed to call yourself a graphic designer. The industry and company you work for will determine whether you need a degree or certificate program to qualify, and they can differ from place to place. Graphic Design is a large industry protected by professionals who care about quality education and access to diverse art.

The Professional Association For Design (AIGA)  works to create criteria for accredited programs at universities, community colleges, and vocational schools, offering the correct language for school catalogs and helping create a standard across the country. In conjunction with the AIGA, the National Association Of Schools Of Art & Design (NASAD) also steps in to help support the need for higher education, further setting the stage for what quality employers want out of the designers they hire.

The NASAD and AIGA emphasize obtaining a quality education so you know what is available to you as a professional. They define a four-year degree program as the standard for the preparation and vast body of knowledge required of an entry-level graphic designer. Sixty-five percent of classes will be centered around general design, while 25 percent of coursework will focus on graphic design.

Positions you can apply for with a four-year degree

  • Communications Specialist
  • Visual Marketing Director
  • Brand Manager
  • Graphic Designer
  • Motion Graphics Specialist
  • Illustrator
  • Brand Manager
  • Publication Designer

The NASAD and AIGA define a two-year degree program as community colleges and vocational schools that offer classes and focus on graphic arts, commercial art, and visual communication. These courses will be condensed and focused on the software expertise of a few select programs and the opportunity to work in entry-level positions that allow a person to learn as they earn.

Choosing The Right Education

In graphic design, you have the flexibility of going to a university, community college, vocational school, high school integration, or even just teaching yourself and having a mentor. There are no requirements for being a graphic designer. However, most places of high prestige will require education on some level.

If you choose to work with a brand or entrepreneur, you may find their requirements quite different, so examples of your work are critical. With over ten post-secondary institutions you can attend for graphic design in New Mexico, you’re bound to find one that fits your needs. In addition, New Mexico has a rich and cultured art community making it a prime place for artists to lay a foundation, including the film industry, adding another layer of diverse opportunity.

Take note if any of the schools or programs offer online education as an option, especially if you’re a person with a busy schedule or a family to look after. There is no one size fits all approach to learning graphic design.

New Mexico State University (NMSU)

New Mexico State University (NMSU) is located in Alamogordo, New Mexico and provides students with over 6,000 majors. In addition, they offer a two-year AAS in Graphic Design and certificate programs to help expand students’ knowledge of what’s possible in the industry. The degree program centers on business marketing, digital art and technology, giving students hands-on learning for the world they will be entering.

NMSU’s Graphic Design Certificate offers a student a fast track to touching the latest software and preparing someone for an entry-level or introductory graphic design lens. The 18 credit certificate program gives students visual, conceptual skills by learning basic color theory and the elements of visual skills through classes like Design 1.

You also receive extensive education in the Introduction to Illustrator course that helps students create professional-quality artwork for print publishing such as book covers, magazines and newspapers. You learn the basic concepts of using the Adobe program Illustrator and the many ways it can help you design web pages and digital publications.

Classes you will take once you finish your 61 prerequisite courses

  • Drawing
  • Communications
  • Digital Video Production
  • Photoshop
  • Desktop Publishing
  • Photography & Digital Imagery
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Web design

Tuition for in-state students is $1,032 for 12 to 18 credits, while out-of-state residents pay $2,688. Part-time students taking 1-11 credit hours will pay $86 per credit hour, while out-of-state students pay $124. Due to the many campuses, New Mexico State University has, their tuition rates are per location.

Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU)

Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) is located in Portales, New Mexico, and is a one-stop-shop depending on your area of passion. They offer many degree programs in addition to certificates you can receive for a specialized area of design. They split their degree program into a rigorous but diverse course of study, including design history, two and three-dimensional structure, typography, and photography.

They have modern state-of-the-art facilities and software, giving students hands-on learning with the machines and programs they will use in the field, such as iMacs, Adobe Creative Cloud software, and large computer screens. In addition, they allow students to practice for up to 50 hours a week in an open studio for lab time to practice the craft.

Tuition for ENMU residents will cost $3,254 a year for 12-18 credits, while non-residents will pay $4,284 for full-time status. These costs do not include meals, housing, or transportation fees, so factor those costs into your budget. In addition, they offer many options for students to receive discounts on their tuition costs, such as admissions scholarships where they will award up to $30,000 over four years for high-level ACT/SAT scores.

If you are a student from (AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, ND, OR, SD, UT, WA or WY), you can receive the Western Undergraduate Exchange rate giving you lower tuition costs. Financial aid is available to those who qualify, so fill out your FAFSA to be eligible for grants and scholarships based on your needs.

While ENMU has many courses that mimic other schools, they are one of the only schools clear on home-schooled students. Therefore, if you’re a home-schooled student and have an ACT score of at least 17 or an SAT score of at least 810, you may attend with a home-school transcript.

University of New Mexico (UNM)

University of New Mexico (UNM) offers continuing education courses that give potential enthusiasts the chance to take a certificate program in an area of study they love. You do not receive course credits, nor do you need to apply in the same way a regular student would; however you take classes by industry professionals in hundreds of different disciplines.

UNM Web and Graphic Design Certificates/Programs

  • AutoCAD Certificate program
  • Digital Game Artist Certificate
  • Intermediate InDesign CC
  • Introduction to InDesignCC
  • Introduction to Lightroom Classic CC
  • Introduction to Photoshop CC
  • Intermediate Photoshop CC

Taking Graphic Design To The Highest Level

With the state of the world-changing, the way we earn has never been easier. When you apply for freelancing and contract work, you see what it’s like to work for yourself. You can achieve the entrepreneurial dream by marketing your services and working with brands or people you are passionate about improving and serving. You have no limits directed by the market or the opportunities in your physical location.