How To Become a Graphic Designer in Oklahoma?

With the rise of digitization, graphic design has become more ubiquitous in our lives.

Graphic design is seen in many places, such as on websites, colorful magazine spreads, posters, book covers, business cards and software interfaces. According to the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), it is the art and practice of projecting ideas into visual content. From something as simple as a logo to something complex as the layout of an app. Graphic design helps a product connect with the consumer. This is because it always conveys a message that instantly speaks to the consumer, which is why the advertisement industry uses it a lot.

Who is a Graphic Designer?

A graphic designer is a person who understands the basics of line, shape, size, space, texture and form and then uses them to create visual content that portrays an idea. You then use this knowledge to create posters, billboards, motion graphics etc.

There is no one definite way to become a graphic designer. You can be self-taught, but there is only so much you can teach yourself. So, you can start a graphic design program at a college instead. This article walks you through everything you need to know to become a graphic designer in Oklahoma.

Admission Requirements for Graphic Design Programs in Oklahoma

To start your graphic design journey, the first thing you must do is finish high school. This helps you get into college and start a graphic design major. However, there are no standard requirements for application to these schools for admission. They all have different requirements and award either BA (Bachelor of Arts), BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) or Associate of Applied Science degree.

A portfolio helps you in your admissions process because it showcases your ability. You can showcase past works done for people or cool designs that you just conceptualized. However, to have a portfolio, you must already understand design softwares like Adobe Photoshop, Canva, and SketchUp.

To further improve yourself and help your chances of being accepted into the school, try to get real-life experience by interning or volunteering in a graphic design studio or a related field. Note that schools with graphic design programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Arts and Design (NASAD).

Best Graphic Design Schools and Programs in Oklahoma

University of Central Oklahoma – Edmond, OK

The graphic design program at the University of Central Oklahoma challenges you to think critically about design elements like illustration, typeface, and graphic usage and apply them in creating visual concepts. The program starts with a foundation of 2D and 3D courses where you discover your style and how to use industry-standard print and digital tools to work.

At the University of Central Oklahoma, you get mentorship from the faculty and learn how to build your portfolio professionally. You are also exposed to a mix of art, advertising, and visual communications courses. You have to complete 124 credit hours to graduate and get a BFA in graphic design. To apply, you should already be a school student and then submit your application to the admissions board with your portfolio. The tuition fee is $16,200 per year.

Metro Technology Centers  – Oklahoma City, Ok

Here, you explore cutting-edge design programs and art trends of the modern world. You are trained to create illustrations, animations, logos, posters and traditional art for visual communications. The graphic design program in Metro Technology Centers is to prepare you for immediate employment after you graduate.

You learn the production skills necessary to design and manage professional projects during your program. You also develop a portfolio that will include works in branding development, vinyl signage, screen printing and more. The program costs $2,587.50 for in-state applicants and lasts for two years. After which, you can transfer to a four-year graphic design program.

Oklahoma Baptist University – Shawnee, OK

Graphic design students at Oklahoma Baptist University are encouraged to think about the world critically to solve problems. While at the school, you learn how to utilize graphic design to make a difference in the world. Your coursework includes advertising, interactive and typographic design.

Also, while a student in this school, you can work professionally with large and small design firms. You could also work with in-house creative departments at the school. You need to have an SAT score of at least 900 to be admitted. You should budget around $180,400 for your entire four-year stay at this university.

Southwestern Oklahoma State University – Weatherford, OK

This school offers a BFA program that teaches you typography, traditional and digital imagery and how to create communication in various media formats like books and posters. Being a graphic design student at Southwestern Oklahoma State University costs $7,913 if you live in the state and $15,023 for out-of-state residents. This does not include fees for books.

This graphic design program prepares you to enter the realm of digital communication design. You learn to communicate effectively while making sure that the design is aesthetically pleasing and visually follows all the design principles. To apply to this program, you will need to submit a portfolio during your application process and must have completed your foundational art courses.

Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology – Okmulgee, OK

This graphic design program awards you an Associate in Applied Science in Graphic Design Technology. You are taught how to navigate the complexities of visual communication in today’s climate. Your coursework focuses mainly on building your technical ability, and this is done by giving you a chance to intern and earn from firms around. Thus, by the time you graduate, you already have enough hands-on experience to solve any graphic design problem.

To graduate from the Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology you need at least a 2.0 GPA. You also have to complete 94 credit hours. When you are awarded your degree, you can transfer it to a school with a four-year program to get a Bachelor’s in Graphic Design. The tuition for this school is $5,800.

Oklahoma State University – Stillwater, OK

The graphic design program at Oklahoma State University teaches you to apply design principles in a vast range of design media. While at this school, you have 24-hour access to cutting-edge design studios and computer lab spaces to develop your skills in traditional media and more unconventional media like motion and interaction.

The curriculum in this school considers that graphic design changes as rapidly as technology itself. So, you learn how to think outside the box so you can keep up. After you are done, you graduate with a BFA prepared to work in any sector as a graphic designer. This school also has a master’s program in graphic design that you can pursue after you are done with your undergraduate program. The yearly estimate for in-state students is $29,890 and $45,410 for out-of-state students.

Salary and Outlook for Graphic Designers in Oklahoma

As a graphic designer in Oklahoma, you can earn an average of $40,710 per year. This amount is lower than the federal average by more than $10,000. This makes Oklahoma one of the areas you earn the least in the country. However, this average is offset by the state’s standard of living, which is less than the national average by 16.3%.

However, as your years of experience increase, so does your earning power. You can earn up to $20,000 more after ten years. Also, the cities in Oklahoma can affect your pay. In Tulsa, you get an average of $54,193, and in Oklahoma City, it can get as high as $56,265 per year.

Your earning power in graphic designing should not be based only on state average because you can freelance and make a lot if you have big clients. The rise of NFT has also changed the game, with people selling their works for more than $100,000. 

Working as a Graphic Designer in Oklahoma

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Oklahoma employs more than 1,300 employees in the state. This includes both freelancers and those who work in print media and advertising agencies. As a graphic designer, you can work almost anywhere, and because of the nature of the job, remote work is possible. Also, to improve your value in your career, you should get extra certifications from places like Coursera and Udemy. This broadens your reach and increases your potential pay.

Currently, in Oklahoma, here are the job listings that give you an idea of where you can work and the potential earnings:

  • Graphic Designer, The Toro Company, $25000 to $31,600 per year
  • Graphic Designer, Pearson, Oklahoma City, $50,000 per year
  • Graphic Artist, Northeastern State University, Tahlequah
  • Graphic Designer, VI Marketing and Branding, Oklahoma City, $42,500 to $53,900 per year
  • Graphic Designer, Oklahoma Christian University, Oklahoma City, $36,900 to $46,700 per year
  • Graphic Designer, SmithDryden, Edmond, $35,700 to $45,300 per year
  • Graphic Designer, Brides of Houston, Oklahoma City, $36,400 to $46,000 per year
  • Graphic Designer, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Bartlesvill3, $38,400 to $48,600 per year
  • Graphic Designer, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, $36,400 to $46,200 per year
  • Graphic Designer, Feed The Children, Oklahoma City, $30,800 to $39,000 per year