Becoming a Graphic Designer in New York State

A graphic designer is the best combination of artist, advertiser, computer expert and designer. Those who excel in the field have solid creative thinking skills, interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills and marketing expertise. A graphic design career is an attractive option for anyone who wants to marry the skills of an artist with logical and practical skills. 

Graphic designers combine the best of art and technology to create images that communicate meaning. Their designs are essential to advertising and marketing. In addition, graphic designers often create logos, packaging and brochures for clients. These designers are involved with every aspect of the finished product, including lettering, choosing colors and creating appealing visual images. Many designers will focus on a specific design area, such as advertising, product packaging or corporate logos. Regardless of their niche, graphic designers will need to be innovative, detail-oriented, and knowledgeable. Listening skills are a must, as designers often need to discern what a client is trying to communicate and translate that into specific symbolism.

Requirements for New York Graphic designers

There are no formal requirements for graphic designers in New York. However, you will need considerable skills in design, which are typically obtained through completing a degree program in the field. Certifications are also recommended for the best chances of success. Common certifications sought by graphic designers include Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) in InDesignIllustrator and Photoshop, as well as the Certified Digital Designer

Best Colleges in New York State for the Pursuit of a Graphic Design Career

New York State has abundant opportunities to study graphic design, from training programs to bachelor’s degree-level education. New York City, in particular, offers numerous training options for those who are interested in graphic design. A few of the top choices for graphic design schools in the state are detailed below. 

Parsons School of Design

Parsons School of Design in New York, NY, offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Graphic Design. The program focuses on preparing students with the foundational skills needed to become creative professionals in graphic design. Students in the program will take courses in graphic design, typography, color theory and web design, among other subjects needed to excel in the field. 

Students at Parsons School of design can expect to pay around $25,861 per semester for undergraduate degrees. However, financial aid is available to qualifying students. Potential students can make an appointment to discuss options for assistance with the financial aid office here

The college boasts a diverse community, and residences are available on campus in Greenwich Village or in Chelsea. The campus is located in Greenwich Village, where students are encouraged to immerse themselves in everything the city has to offer. On-campus housing is co-ed, gender-inclusive, and fully furnished with high-speed internet. 

Rochester Institute of Technology

The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, NY, offers a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts in Graphic Design. The program focuses on design principles, methods for creating design, design concepts and visual composition. Students will gain real-life experience through experiential learning opportunities, including cooperative education and internships, giving them an edge in the job market. On-campus courses include Advertising Design, Packaging Systems, Collaborative Design and Editorial Design. 

Undergraduates can expect to pay $69,496 per year if living on campus. The tuition price is $53,720 per year, with an estimated additional $2858 cost for books. However, RIT has ample opportunities to obtain financial aid and scholarships, with excellent opportunities for active-duty military and qualifying veterans. For more information on financial assistance at RIT, visit their website

RIT offers a variety of on-campus housing, including residence halls, commons, suites and townhouses. Those living in residence halls can choose from 13 different halls with a variety of lifestyles and special interests, allowing students to live among like-minded peers as much as possible. Residence advisors are available on each floor, where they facilitate activities and offer support for students. 

The campus also offers ample dining and shopping opportunities, along with athletics and recreation. Students from diverse backgrounds can also take advantage of a variety of community spaces, including the college’s Mosaic Center and Multicultural Center for Academic Success. In addition, they can participate in programs such as the Native America Future Stewards Program or a club for deaf and hard of hearing students. 

The State University of New York at New Paltz

State University of New York at New Paltz in New Paltz, NY, offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. The program integrates the core courses from the college’s Liberal Arts program to produce well-rounded and knowledgeable designers in a variety of subjects. Design students will draw from their knowledge of sociology, psychology, media communication, fine arts and anthropology as they develop design ideas. 

The graphic design program at SUNY New Paltz takes pride in providing ample opportunities for learning, including field trips and speaking engagements from notable designers. Students will join the Design Society and the Student Art Alliance as a means of student-focused support for learning and growing as designers. The college also supports career development through a yearly New Paltz Design Week event that features networking opportunities, guest lecturers and workshops where designers can hone their skills. 

The college’s admissions program requires a portfolio submission, which are accepted in the spring prior to the fall semester for which you will apply. Once admitted to the program, students will need to maintain a B- or better in design-specific courses and a minimum GPA of 3.0. For more information on the admissions process, visit their website

The 2021-2022 school-year costs for undergraduates are estimated at $13,727.50 per semester for in-state students and $18,682.50 per semester for out-of-state students. Out of that amount, tuition rates are $7070 and $16,980 for in-state and out-of-state students, respectively. Off-campus students may be able to save up to $14,770 per semester in room and board fees. The college also offers ample financial aid for qualifying students, including a scholarship for military personnel and veterans through the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation

Campus life includes athletics and recreation, an art museum, concert and theater productions and a bookstore. The college also provides opportunities for students to join clubs, attend events and engage with the community. The college is making an ongoing effort to become more inclusive with ongoing diversity initiatives, including renaming campus buildings (which was done in 2017), recognizing varied religious and cultural holidays, and an effort toward recruiting and retaining diverse students. In addition, there are on-campus programs for LGBTQ students, disabled students and students of color. The college also participates in the AMP and C-Step programs to encourage the participation of underrepresented groups in STEM.

Residence halls at SUNY New Paltz are co-ed and include laundry rooms, meeting rooms, a study lounge, a kitchenette and computer terminals. Rooms range from traditional rooms to corridor-style rooms to suites. Students with disabilities may apply for alternate housing, and emotional support animals are welcomed on an application basis. 

Career Prospects and Salary Expectations

Graphic designers can look forward to some long-term growth in their careers. According to Projections Central, the profession is expected to grow by 8900 jobs nationwide between 2018 and 2028. That number translates to 3.1 percent growth over the ten-year period, with an estimated 299,000 jobs available in the field in 2023. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graphic designers in New York make between $35,980 and $106,620 yearly, with a median salary of $63,220. In fact, New York scores in the top five states with the highest wages and the top five states with the most job opportunities. The New York metropolitan area has more employed graphic designers than any other city in the country and is among the top ten highest paying cities. 

Where do Graphic Designers Typically Work?

According to data collected by the BLS, most graphic designers work for firms with specialized design services. Advertising and public relations firms are also at the top of the list for employing the skills of a graphic designer. However, the federal government is reported as the highest paying employer for graphic designers. Potential employers in New York include WebMd LLC, Creative Circle LLC and Northwell Health.

If you are interested in freelancing, that is, working for yourself, graphic design is a great career choice. Graphic designers have highly sought-after skills and the ability to work from anywhere, as long as they have the needed equipment. Freelancing comes with the freedom to set your rates and decide how much work you want to solicit.

Whichever track you choose for your career path, you will have the opportunity to grow as a graphic designer, pursue career options and increase your earning potential. As your experience in the field grows, you will be able to increase your potential for earning and the prospects available to you for employment. All in all, a career in graphic design has the potential to deliver the lifestyle you want and the freedom to choose when, where and how you work.