How to Become a Graphic Designer in Ohio?

Graphic designers are creative professionals who use technology to create their works. No official licenses or credentials are required for this career, but a solid education is necessary. There are plenty of schools in Ohio offering graphic design programs and opportunities for work after graduation.

What is a Graphic Designer?

Graphic designers create many different products using software design programs. They meet with clients and art directors to discuss projects and the message that needs to be communicated in a design. They then use software to design advertisements, marketing materials, brochures, magazine layouts, logos, and more.

A graphic designer must be well-versed in design, illustration, and photography software. They use design, art, color, and typography to create materials that convey a chosen message. They often make revisions to their designs based on feedback from clients or employers.

Requirements for Ohio Graphic Designers

Ohio does not have any formal requirements for people working as graphic designers. Most employers prefer to hire designers with a four-year degree, while a two-year degree might suffice in some cases. The degree should be in graphic design or a related field.

Graphic designers often work on a freelance basis and are self-employed. They do not strictly need to have degrees, but clients might prefer to work with a more educated designer.

The best way to become a graphic designer is to complete a degree program. If you are in high school, take art classes, especially illustration, and any design or design software classes offered. These courses will help you build a portfolio of work, which some schools require for admission to an art or design program.

Graphic Design Schools and Programs in Ohio

Ohio is home to many colleges and universities with art schools and design degree programs. Choose one accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD) to ensure you get the best education. These are just some of the Ohio programs accredited by NASAD:

Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green

Bowling Green’s School of Art emphasizes creativity, innovation, and expression. One of the five divisions of the school is graphic design, which offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. The program helps students become both independent and collaborative designers who lead the way in the changing field of graphic design.

BGSU’s graphic design program has been recognized as one of the best in the country, ranking tenth in the Midwest and 17th in the nation in 2015. In addition to learning the fundamentals of art and design and communicating ideas through design, students in the program learn how to be socially and politically conscious professionals. The program emphasizes using design for social change.

Some of the courses that students can take include graphic design thinking, typography, graphic design theory and methods, history of graphic design, user experience and user interface design, collaborative and community engagement, and time-based graphic design. Before graduating, students complete a graphic design internship for real-world work experience.

Central State University, Wilberforce

The Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Central State offers an accredited Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design. The Department has been recognized as an Ohio Center of Excellence in Cultural and Societal Transformation. In addition to educating students, the Department promotes music and arts in local schools and contributes to the area’s economic development.

Graphic design majors take courses in fundamentals of design, drawing, photography, computer art, image processing, computer presentation graphics, graphic design I and II, illustration, advanced graphic design, and spe6cial graphic design projects courses.

University of Dayton, Dayton

Students in the University of Dayton’s College of Arts and Sciences can earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in graphic design through the Department of Art and Design. The program emphasizes a professional education, training students to work as graphic designers in a number of industries. According to the Department, 86% of the graphic design graduates had jobs in their field within a year of completing the program.

Students learn in small class and studio environments with a student-to-faculty ratio of 12 to one. In addition to coursework in design and art, students get real-world experiences through internships, co-ops, and community projects. Dayton is a private school, but every applicant is considered for a merit scholarship, which can be worth up to $124,000 in tuition.

The University of Akron, Akron

The University of Akron’s Mary Schiller Myers School of Art offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in graphic design. It is a professional program designed to prepare graduates for careers in all areas of visual communication and design. The curriculum includes theories, principles, processes, and technology. Students focus on innovative thinking to create value for clients.

Graphic design courses include typography, introduction to design, web and devices, drawing techniques, user experience and interface design, motion design, graphic systems, packaging design, and professional design practices.

As part of the professional preparation, students in graphic design participate in Design X Nine. This is an in-house design studio that serves real clients, both on campus and throughout the local business community. Students can also complete an internship.

To be admitted to the School of Art, incoming freshmen only need to apply to and gain admission to the University of Akron. This is a simple, fast admission process with no test scores or admissions essays.

Art Academy of Cincinnati, Cincinnati

The Art Academy of Cincinnati College of Art and Design has been educating young artists since 1869. The current student body is approximately 200 undergraduate students. This small size gives students the unique opportunity to work closely with instructors and working artists and designers. It is one of the smallest fine arts schools in the country.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts program is multidisciplinary, allowing students to get a broad arts education while specializing in one area. Design is an available major that prepares graduates for a variety of careers, including graphic design. The heart of the degree program, regardless of major, is innovation and risk-taking.

In the design major, students learn how to develop creative solutions to design and communication problems. They work on projects involving brand identity, promotional materials, web design, publications and printing, products design, and more. Some of the courses in the design major are drawing, typographic design, communication design, experience design, design methods, web design and letterpress design.

Another option for future designers is the school’s two-year Associate of Science degree in graphic design. It prepares students for entry-level work or to transition into a four-year design or graphic design program. Application to the Art Academy requires a portfolio review.

Career Outlook for Graphic Design

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), growth in graphic design careers is slower than average job growth. Expected growth across the country from 2020 through 2030 is expected to be 3%. This represents tens of thousands of available positions for qualified graphic designers.

Unfortunately, Ohio is experiencing a decline in graphic design jobs through 2028, according to Projections Central. There will still be job openings in the coming years as people leave the industry or retire. With the right qualifications, you can also find remote opportunities working from Ohio for companies in other areas of the U.S.

Graphic Designer Salaries

The median annual salary for graphic designers across the U.S. is $53,380, according to the BLS. The median hourly rate is $25.66. Ohio graphic designers earn $48,270 per year and $23.20 per hour on average. The top earners in the field in the state make over $81,000 per year.

Finding Graphic Design Work in Ohio

There are many different career opportunities for qualified designers. Graphic designers work in marketing and art departments for all kinds of companies and also for design firms. They also work for publishers, and many are self-employed, taking on projects on a contract basis.

Because career growth is a little slow in Ohio, freelancing and self-employment is a great opportunity. Graphic design is well suited to remote work, and many companies now hire designers out of the area to work virtually.

Even with slower job growth, you should be able to find employment in Ohio if you have a degree in graphic design and an excellent portfolio of work. These are some examples of recent job listings in the state related to graphic design:

  • Graphic designer, State of Ohio Jobs, Columbus, $55,000 to $62,000 per year
  • Senior graphic designer, Stanley, Black and Decker, remote in Ohio, $51,100 to $64,700 per year
  • Junior graphic designer, FC Cincinnati, Cincinnati, $30,800 to $39,000 per year
  • Contract graphic designer, Equity Trust Company, Westlake or remote, $49,900 to $63,100 per year
  • Graphic designer, Ohio State University, Columbus, $49,800 to $54,000 per year
  • Graphic designer, Embrace Pet Insurance, Cleveland, $41,200 to $52,200 per year
  • Visual designer, NetJets Services, Inc., Columbus, $54,900 to $69,500 per year

Becoming a graphic designer in Ohio is a matter of getting the proper education and acquiring specific skills. You don’t need a certification or license, but a degree helps. Enroll in an accredited Ohio graphic design program to get your career started.