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Graphics

Successful graphics professionals are creative, outgoing and adaptable, with a wide range of interests and an artistic flair. Most entry-level jobs require a bachelor's degree.

Hood College offers a broad-based, future-oriented communication arts degree program with a concentration in graphics that builds skills in design, digi- tal technology, and written and spoken communications. Students also have opportunities to create a portfolio of professional work through internships and volunteer assignments. Hood's goal is to prepare students to adapt and thrive in the converging media environment of the 21st century.

Course of Studies

The communications field today demands that professionals be prepared to integrate visual, spoken and written messages in an evolving mix of media. The core emphasis of Hood's communication arts major is to teach every student how to tell compelling stories using all of these media platforms.

The communication arts major/digital media concentration offers a graphics track, with courses in design, digital photography, writing, speech communications, visual media production and interactive media applica- tions. Courses also delve into communications theory, the history of the communications field and the ethical questions and concerns communi- cations professionals face daily. Students interested in graphics learn about the fundamentals of design, visual communication and conceptualization; work with computer design tools; and learn to solve fundamental design problems.

Students interested in web design take courses offered by Hood's Computer Science Department or complete the web development minor, learning how to program and build a website from the ground up. The College's Economics and Management Department offers additional courses that help prepare students for careers focused on marketing.

Hood faculty members are excellent teachers who have extensive experi- ence as successful communications professionals. They provide individual attention and direction as students develop personal and professional strengths and more clearly define career goals.

Opportunities for Practical Experience

Internships are required, and Hood students have found placements in the Frederick-Baltimore-Washington, D.C., region, as well as in other areas of the U.S. and even abroad. Students aiming for graphics careers have completed internships with such organizations as Art with a Heart in Baltimore, Goodwill Industries, Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick Magazine and Downtown Frederick Partnership. Because building a professional portfolio is essential for entry-level graphics positions, students often participate in more than one practical experience.

There also are many opportunities on the Hood campus to apply class- room learning to real-world situations, including volunteering to help a student group design posters or social marketing strategies to publicize upcoming events; working with one of the College's sports teams to pro- mote attendance at games; or offering expertise to Hood's performing arts groups. In the Frederick community, the local chapter of the American Advertising Federation welcomes student involvement, which might include attending professional development events, visiting design studios and assisting with the group's outreach activities.

Faculty members and Hood's career center staff work with students to find placements that match their interests and goals.

Success of Hood Graduates

Hood graduates are applying their graphics skills at public relations and advertising firms, corporations, nonprofits and other settings. Recent graduates are employed as the communications director at the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce; the director of marketing at MacRo Ltd; and an assistant account executive at Weber Shandwick, a global public relations firm.

Job Outlook

Graphic designers work for private companies, nonprofits and public agencies, primarily in public relations, advertising and marketing. About 30 percent are self-employed. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for graphics professionals in 2010 was $43,500 a year (a figure that reflects salaries of experienced as well as entry-level designers).

The BLS predicts that jobs in this field are expected to increase 13 percent by 2020, and the best prospects will be for job applicants with website design and other interactive media experience.

Resources for More Information About Careers

The American Institute of Graphic Arts (www.aiga.org), the professional association for design, sets the national agenda for the role of design in economic, social, political, cultural and creative contexts.

The American Advertising Federation (www.aaf.org ) is a nationally coordinated grassroots network of advertisers, agencies, media companies, local advertising clubs and college chapters. The chapter in Frederick (www.aaffrederick.org), offers a variety of programs—many of them open to Hood students—including meetings featuring industry-related speak- ers, professional development workshops, public service initiatives and award competitions recognizing excellence in advertising.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012- 13 edition (www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/graphic-designers.htm) provides an overview of jobs in this field and the employment outlook for the coming decade.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why prepare for a graphics career at Hood rather than a school that specializes in art or graphic design?

Hood College offers several advantages in preparing for a career in graphics. A professional entering the rapidly evolving communications field must have the knowledge and flexibility to adapt to changes we cannot now envision. Hood's academic program is designed to prepare students for success today and in the future.

Hood's communication arts major provides broad-based preparation so that students have skills not just in design but also in writing and a spectrum of visual and digital communications. They also gain historical and theoretical understanding of the field. Students are required to complete a carefully selected core of courses, and choose electives―in communication arts and other departments at Hood―that match their particular interests and career goals. Hood also offers a variety of practical, hands-on experiences so that students have exposure to working in differing settings within their chosen field and can build a portfolio of professional work.

In addition, Hood provides an exceptional level of individual attention, in small classes taught by faculty members who have significant experience in their fields.

What kinds of jobs are available for entry-level graphics professionals?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the following areas of employment for graphic designers: computer system design and related services; specialized design services; advertising, public relations and related services; printing and related activities; and publishing industries. Most graphics professionals work for private companies, nonprofits and public agencies, primarily in public relations, advertising and marketing. About 30 percent are self-employed.

What's the future job outlook for graphics professionals?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the graphics field are expected to increase 13 percent by 2020. The fastest growing area of employment for graphic designers will be in computer systems design and related services (61 percent), while the slowest growth will be in printing and related services (2 percent).

Learn more about the major.