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Creative Careers

By Alan Drummer

A picture is worth a thousand words. That's why people will pay you, if you're a designer, to create a picture or design an image they need; a picture that grabs others, attracts them, entertains them, informs them, serves them, and makes them want to buy. If you have that talent, you could be one of over a half-million designers who are working in America, according to the U.S. Dept. of Labor. These designers are creating photos, logos, publications, dresses, products, interiors, websites and more. You can survey the possibilities here as you explore schools offering art & design programs.

The Design Salary Spectrum:
• Advertising & Design
• Computer Aided Design
• Computer Animation
• Digital Media Production & Design
• Photography
• Fashion Design
• Interior Design
• Graphic Design
• Web Design & Development.

The Design Salary Spectrum

A talent for visualization can take you down dozens of exciting art & design career paths. Starting out by enrolling for the right design program can help to ensure that your talents translate into a good salary.

But competition is keen, says the U.S. Dept. of Labor, even though it projects 10-20% growth in the design field by 2012. Many people want these jobs, because they're creatively satisfying. A great portfolio, hard work and top training are key to your success.

How much can you make? Median salaries range from $19,000 for floral designers up to $52,000 for commercial and industrial designers, according to the Dept. of Labor. Senior designers in a number of fields can make $100,000 and up. Here are some specialties to consider:

Advertising & Design

A career in advertising can bring fast rewards to people, perhaps like you, who are good brainstormers. One of them is Kirk Citron, an award-winning copywriter who started his own ad agency in San Francisco and quickly built it into one of the largest independent ad agencies on the west coast. He's evaluated and hired over a hundred art/design school graduates over the years. He has this to say to you,

"I can't stress enough how important the portfolio is. You need to get beyond the stack of easily 50 applicants there are for every art director job. In school, focus on ideas more than on how polished the ideas are in execution. There are many slick portfolios coming out of art schools. But what I look for is a quality of mind or thinking - something I haven't seen before."

Computer Aided Design

CAD (computer aided design) tools make it easier to visualize a final product faster. They help designers quickly explore alternative ideas, cutting costs and saving time to market. CAD tools can also pass automated instructions to machines that will make the product. Good CAD skills could open many doors for you.

Computer Animation

Headlines were made when the Walt Disney Company closed its last hand animation studios in Florida, because 3-D computer animation seems destined to take over. But what's important in learning 3-D animation? Christian Lowe, a New York-based freelance 3-D animator shares this with you,

"People think the computer does everything, but you need to know how to draw and have traditional art skills. People think they have to understand the computer tools, but really you have to understand the art aspect of animation."

Digital Media Production & Design

There is a growing demand for professionals who can produce, edit, and manipulate a range of multimedia content. Whether your interests lie in Graphic Design, Animation, Film & Video Production, or Visual Journalism, there are degree programs available that can give you the competitive edge in the workplace.

Photography

About 130,000 photographers worked in the U.S. in 2002, the Labor Department reported. More than half are self-employed. The job attracts many people and competition is challenging. Median annual earnings of salaried photographers were about $24,000. Could this be the career for you?

Fashion Design

Many well-known fashion designers whose creations adorn all our favorite glamour magazines started in Fashion Design school. This could be you! Competition for the approximately 15,000 fashion design jobs in the United States is very strong, reports the Dept. of Labor. Computers are increasing designer productivity and reducing the number of openings. But offshore assembly sites are increasing their output and fashions are changing faster. Those trends are boosting the need for designs. Median annual earnings for fashion designers were about $51,000 in 2002, the Dept. of Labor reported. Maybe this is the field for you?

Interior Design

Making waves in American TV these days, Interior Design is a hot field for you to be in.Demand for interior designers, according to Labor Department statistics, is rising. The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) says there are about 34,000 interior designers in the U.S. working at about 10,000 firms. Fledgling designers, according to ASID, earn about $30,000 a year. Mid-level designers make $35,000 to $40,000, and the elite receive $75,000 to $100,000 or more.

Graphic Design

There are about 212,000 jobs in graphic design, says the Labor Department, covering everything from publications to movie graphics. You might like to consider that median annual earnings in this category were about $37,000 in 2002.

Web Design & Development.

After weathering the dot-com bust, web usage and e-commerce are growing steadily - as is demand for web designers. You could be a web designer of the future.

Jo Beck, co-founder of Beck Interactive, a full-service digital media agency in California's Silicon Valley, has hired art school graduates had this to day:

"Make sure your portfolio is solid in illustration, design and color use. We can teach anyone web development skills. But fundamental design ability and core art skills are harder to find. Flash is really hot and I love to see Flash examples."

About the author:

Alan Drummer is a writer and video producer based in Burlingame, California. His specialties include outdoor adventure, travel, technology and advertising and marketing. Trained as an ad agency copywriter, his TV spots for children won some of the industry's major awards. His features have appeared in publications such as Better Homes and Gardens, the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Magazine, and online at playstation.com.

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