Multimedia Designer

By TACP Staff on July 17, 2021

In one way or another, multimedia design permeates every industry on the planet. Incorporating a multitude of career paths and artistic fields, becoming a professional designer has never been more diversified or exciting. Whether you are working from home or as a corporate team member, a career in multimedia design offers something for every artist.

What Is Multimedia Design?

People who work in multimedia design create visual images to convey a specific message to the audience. Typically, the purpose of the message is to persuade, inform, or entertain. Multimedia designers work in television and film, marketing and public relations, website design, as graphic artists, in video game production, and other creative industries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people whose occupation fell in the general category of multimedia artists and animators held 64,400 jobs in 2015.

What Does a Multimedia Designer Do?

Multimedia designers use a variety of skills and equipment to create work that invokes a certain emotional response in the viewer. Skills they may use on a day-to-day basis include drawing, the use of computer software programs, and creating a storyline or message to accompany the visual image. Multimedia designers spend a good portion of their time in the research phase of a project. This is essential to ensure the success of the project once it goes through production and gets released to the public.

People in the multimedia design field usually work as part of a creative team. The team works together under the direction of a creative manager to assign tasks to different individuals and due dates for each component of the project. They meet frequently to evaluate the work of other team members in regards to how it affects the project as a whole. Meetings are also an opportunity to gauge their progress towards goals and likelihood of meeting deadlines. The ability to consider and utilize the feedback of others to improve a multimedia design project is essential for success in this role.

Many people choose to specialize in a certain area of multimedia design, such as graphic arts, website design, and video game development. While their duties will vary depending on their specialty, all creative careers involving multimedia require frequent collaboration with others. Strong communication skills and the ability to compromise are just as essential as artistic talent and technical know-how.

Multimedia Designer Education & Training Requirements

Employers and clients who hire multimedia designers expect them to have a minimum of a bachelor degree and a professional portfolio that highlights their work. Those with a higher degree or a specialty certification can stand out when the competition for a specific position or assignment is strong. High school students who know they want to go into multimedia design should take as many art and design, computer graphics, and general business courses as possible. This will help to set the foundation for success in college and an eventual career.

School and Degree Options

Many college and universities that offer degrees in multimedia design also give students the opportunity to choose a specialty focus. Below are some of the most popular concentrations within this field as well as some of the courses a student may take while completing a bachelor degree.

  • Graphic Design

    This degree specialization focuses on the student acquiring graphic design and computer coding skills. Students learn how to create digital images for various types of industries, including web design, advertising, marketing, and instructional materials. Typical coursework includes graphic design, animation, web design essentials, and introductory marketing. Learn more about Graphic Design Schools here.

  • Multimedia Design & Management

    Students who are interested in being in charge of graphics and multimedia projects may be able to obtain this position sooner by taking specialty coursework in college. This degree has a strong focus on developing leadership skills as well as budget management, price negotiations, scheduling, and quality assurance. Learn more about Multimedia Design Schools here.

  • Video Game Design

    The video game industry is experiencing double-digit growth and is expected to do so for at least the next decade. Students wanting to get in on this hot industry should complete specialty courses in coding and scripting languages, story development, and graphics development. After graduation, they may choose to work with web-based games or video games played on devices such as consoles and smartphones. Learn more about Game Design Schools here.

  • Web Design and Development

    A focus in this area includes coursework on programming languages, software programs, emerging technologies, and the fundamentals of business. Other areas of study are database administration, website architecture, and web page layout. Students learn to design and build websites featuring animation and several other interactive features for the user.

    A bachelor’s degree in multimedia design requires completion of basic courses such as English and mathematics as well as 30 or more semester hours in the area of interest. Obtaining a degree in fine art is another possibility for people wishing to seek employment as a multimedia designer.

    Developing a professional portfolio is an essential part of any degree program, whether at the associate, bachelor, or master’s level. Instructors should spend a significant amount of time discussing how to create a portfolio and what to include in it. The portfolio shows the student’s thought and development process and improvement over time. It can include things like drawings, animation frames, and video games or websites the student designed. Employers and clients are interested in seeing how students solve problems as much as they are knowing that they have artistic and technical skills.

Earn Practical Experience (Internships & Volunteering)

The majority of schools that offer a degree in multimedia design require students to complete an internship during the junior or senior year. Some colleges have strong internship placement programs and others leave it up to the student to find one on their own. In either case, it’s essential to research opportunities far in advance as internship slots are typically limited. Students should prepare for the interview just as they would a regular position. They should have the ability to articulate their goals and what they can provide to the company in addition to having a strong portfolio ready.

Internships usually take place at a local company and may be either full or part-time. A manager agrees to work closely with the student to provide feedback that allows him or her to improve certain skills. Multimedia design students should plan to report what they learned on their internship to their instructor in the form of a written report or possibly a presentation to the class.

Volunteering for an organization that could use assistance with multimedia design is another ideal way to gain experience. Many companies advertise these volunteer positions online, especially non-profit and social service agencies. Students can offer skills such as graphic design work or website design in exchange for a professional reference. Experience such as creating and operating a blog or website is helpful as well.

Continuing Education – Advance Your Career

Most colleges offer continuing education classes that are not part of a degree program both online and on campus. These are often in highly specific areas, such as book illustration, figure drawing, and creating websites using Word Press. Although employers typically don’t require continuing education, any certificate showing completion of specialty coursework is to the multimedia designer’s advantage.

Earning a graduate degree is a common way for people to advance their career in this field. Colleges offering a Master of Fine Arts or a Master of Science require prospective students to have completed a bachelor degree and to submit a portfolio, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and possibly an essay. Early coursework goes more in-depth with topics such as computer-aided design, animation, web design, and marketing. Students spend the remainder of the program completing advanced courses in their specialty area of interest. They also need to submit a thesis paper describing how they created a certain piece of work or solved a problem.

Where Do Multimedia Designers Work?

Approximately half of all people working as multimedia designers or animators are self-employed. This gives them greater control over the projects they work on and the ability to determine their own schedule. On the downside, they do not receive benefits such as paid vacation and health insurance from an employer. There may also be lags in work after completing a project. To avoid this, self-employed multimedia professionals must devote time each week to marketing their services and connecting with potential clients. They may work out of a home office or rent studio space.

Multimedia designers who work for a company typically work in an office environment with a desk, computer, drawing board, and other equipment they need to perform their job. They may or may not have an office of their own and generally work in close proximity to other members of their creative team. Although industry demands have a big effect on workload, most people in this career work a full-time schedule at 40 hours a week. Overtime is often necessary to stay on track to meet deadlines.

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Related Careers in Multimedia Design

Other occupations involving art and technology that may be of interest to students interested in multimedia careers include:

Art Director

Someone in this role is responsible for the overall visual style and imagery for product packaging, magazines, movies and television shows, advertisements, and more. An art director oversees the work of artists, graphic designers, and other staff to ensure quality and that the creative team meets its deadlines. They also contribute some of their own creative work to the overall effort.

Web Developers

web developer creates code that enables computer software and hardware programs to work properly. He or she also tests code and works out any issues that interfere with the ongoing operation of software and hardware. They work closely with software developers to create, develop, and troubleshoot new products.

Craft and Fine Artists

They use a variety of mediums, such as drawing, painting, sculpture, and photography, to create products for others to enjoy. Although craft and fine artists also create functional products, their primary focus is typically on aesthetic value. After completing a project, they usually try to sell it to an individual or organization.

Helpful Organizations, Societies & Agencies

Related Digital Arts Careers

Consider these additional careers in Digital Arts.