Tyler Junior College

Visual Communications

Career Opportunities

Graphic Designer

Nature of the Profession: Graphic Designers/Artists are people with a desire to create. They combine technical expertise with artistic ability to turn abstract ideas into unique projects. Graphic Designers produce art for commercial services such as major corporations, advertising agencies, public relations departments, design firms, or printing and publishing firms. Due to the low overhead costs, many graphic designers work from their homes as freelance graphic designers either on a full-time or part-time basis. Some duties include:

  • Consult with clients to establish the overall look of the product
  • Develop or create the graphic elements for a project
  • Estimate cost of materials and project timelines
  • Supervise other graphic designers

Education and Training: New media has created a serious need for talented graphic designers, using a variety of graphics and layout computer software to assist in the designs. Designers creating Web pages or other interactive media designs also will use computer animation and programming packages. Formal training is available in a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree, as well as certificate options in Photography and/or Graphic Arts.

Working Conditions: Working conditions and places of employment vary. Graphic designers generally work in art studios, at home, or in offices. They usually work a 40-hour week but frequently work overtime to meet deadlines. Many graphic artists also freelance for occasional clients. They may also use computers for extended periods of time.

Salary Range: $22,000 - $50,000 per year

Employment Outlook: Employment of graphic designers is expected to grow 10 percent, about as fast an average for all occupations from 2006 to 2016, as a demand for graphic design continues to increase from advertisers, publishers, and computer design firms. Some of this increase is expected to stem from the expansion of the video entertainment marker, including television, movies, video, and made-for-Internet outlets.


Nature of the Profession: Photographers use traditional and digital cameras to produce images of people, products, and events. To create commercial-quality photographs, they need both technical expertise and creativity. This requires a thorough understanding of camera operation, lighting, composition, and computer software. Producing a successful picture requires choosing a subject and selecting the appropriate equipment to achieve a particular effect. Today, most photographers use digital cameras instead of traditional silver-halide film cameras, although some photographers use both types depending on their own preference and the nature of the assignment. Photographers also employ an array of other equipment—from lenses, filters, and tripods to flash attachments and other lighting equipment—to improve the quality of their work.

Education and Training: Employers usually seek applicants with imagination, and creativity, as well as a good technical understanding of photography. Photographers should be able to work well with others, as they frequently deal with clients, graphic designers, and advertising and publishing specialists. Photographers need to know how to use computer software programs and applications that allow them to prepare and edit images, and those who market directly to clients should be familiar with using the Internet to display their work. Freelance and portrait photographers need technical proficiency, gained through a degree program, vocational training, or extensive photography experience.

Photographers who operate their own business need business skills as well as talent. These individuals must know how to prepare a business plan; submit bids; write contracts; keep financial records; market their work; hire models, if needed; get permission to shoot on locations that normally are not open to the public; obtain releases to use photographs of people; license and price photographs; and secure copyright protection for their work. To protect their rights and their work, self-employed photographers require basic knowledge of licensing and copyright laws, as well as knowledge of contracts and negotiation procedures.

Salary Range: $22,000 - $50,000 per year

Employment Outlook: Employment of photographers is expected to increase about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2016. Demand for portrait photographers should increase as the population grows. Growth of Internet versions of magazines, journals, and newspapers will require increasing numbers of commercial photographers to provide digital images. The Internet and improved data management programs also should make it easier for freelancers to market directly to their customers, increasing opportunities for self-employment and decreasing reliance on stock photo agencies.

Web Development

Nature of the Profession: Web developers design and create websites. They are responsible for the look of the site. They are also responsible for the site’s technical aspects, such as performance and capacity, which are measures of a website’s speed and how much traffic the site can handle. They also may create content for the site. Web developers:

  • Meet with their clients or management to discuss the needs of the website and the expected needs of the website’s audience and plan how it should look
  • Create and debug applications for a website
  • Write code for the site, using programming languages such as HTML or XML
  • Work with other team members to determine what information the site will contain
  • Work with graphics and other designers to determine the website’s layout
  • Integrate graphics, audio, and video into the website
  • Monitor website traffic

When creating a website, developers have to make their client’s vision a reality. They work with clients to determine what sites should be used for, including ecommerce, news, or gaming. The developer has to decide which applications and designs will fit the site best.

The following are some types of web developers:

  • Web architects or programmers are responsible for the overall technical construction of the website. They create the basic framework of the site and ensure that it works as expected. Web architects also establish procedures for allowing others to add new pages to the website and meet with management to discuss major changes to the site.
  • Web designers are responsible for how a website looks. They create the site’s layout and integrate graphics; applications, such as a retail checkout tool; and other content into the site. They also write web-design programs in a variety of computer languages, such as HTML or JavaScript.
  • Webmasters maintain websites and keep them updated. They ensure that websites operate correctly and test for errors such as broken links. Many webmasters respond to user comments as well.

Education and Training: Educational requirements for web developers vary with the setting they work in and the type of work they do. Requirements range from a high school diploma to a bachelor’s degree. Web developers need to have a thorough understanding of HTML. Many employers also want developers to understand other languages, such as JavaScript or SQL, as well as have some knowledge of multimedia publishing tools, such as Flash. Web developers must keep up to date on new tools and computer languages. Some employers prefer web developers who have both a computer degree and have taken classes in graphic design.

Working Conditions: Working conditions and places of employment vary. Web developers may work in an office environment with other developers or information technology specialists. Because most of the work involves using a computer, some developers can telecommute.

Salary Range: Experienced web developers make between $61,250 and $99,250 in 2012 according to Robert Half Technology. (From US Dept of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics website.)

Employment Outlook: Employment of web developers is projected to grow 22 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment of web developers is expected to grow as e-commerce continues to grow. Online purchasing is expected to continue to grow faster than the overall retail industry. As retail firms expand their online offerings, demand for web developers will increase.

Note: Information and data obtained from the OOH, TWC Tracer, Graphic Arts Information Network, and CareerOneStop.

Visual Comm Contact Information

Timothy C. Gill
Department Chair
Office: Pirtle T-368

Email: tgil@tjc.edu

Telephone: 903-510-2348

Advising contact: 903-510-2347