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Visual Communications Careers

image of graphic artist at work

What Is Visual Communications? How Is it Used?

Design is everywhere you look: logos, websites, business cards, advertisements, brochures, billboards, product packaging, posters, magazines, books, newspapers, greeting cards, playbills, matchbooks — the list is virtually endless.

Is “visual communications” just a fancy way of saying “graphic design”? Not really. The old-guard field of graphic design focused on translating the conceptual to the visual using a variety of 2-D media. The emphasis was on creating the form of the message with color, shape, texture and type and using photos, illustrations and more.

Visual communications includes other types of communications beyond the traditional print medium of the old graphic design industry. One example is the design of interactive computer presentations that integrate video, animation, sound, stored images and text.

By its problem-solving nature, visual communications incorporates the rationale behind choosing the message and the medium. It provides the “why” of the message in addition to the “how” to an intended audience for a specific purpose. In other words, it provides the form of graphic design, but also provides the function of why this particular medium (printed material, website or other) best suits a particular message.

Career Areas

There are a lot of different jobs and job titles in this field, depending on your particular interest, skill set and continued education, including:

  • Advertising artist or copywriter
  • Animator
  • Artist
  • Desktop publisher
  • Digital photographer
  • Graphic designer
  • Illustrator
  • Layout artist
  • Multimedia specialist
  • Print specialist
  • Public relations specialist
  • Web designer
  • Web developer
  • Webmaster or Web administrator 
  • Job openings requiring Web development and design skills are expanding exponentially, and the technology that is used is continually changing. The number of all Web-related jobs is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations in the next decade as more and more companies use the Internet to do business. Emerging technologies lead to more jobs each year.

    Salaries and Projected Job Growth

    According to America’s Career Infonet, related occupations offer the following average salaries in Texas:

    Job Hourly Rate Annual Salary Projected Growth Through 2020
    Artists and related workers $13.57 $28,200 +16%
    Graphic designers $19.35 $40,200 +14%
    Multimedia artists and animators $25.53 $53,100 +16%
    Public relations specialists $25.18 $52,400 +24%
    Web developers $28.67 $59,600 +21%