Last week the NEA released research based on its analysis of data from the U.S.
Census American Community Survey, a new annual survey tool that complements the
decennial census. Its results highlight a number of characteristics of the U.S. design
community. The design categories are aggregated to include commercial and industrial
designers; fashion designers; floral designers; graphic designers; interior
designers; merchandise displayers; and set and exhibit designers. Still it provides a
profile of communication designers, who represent the largest of these
The NEA used a five-year data set (2005–2009) to get a large
enough sample size for a thorough analysis. Of the 2.1
million Americans identified as artists, designers make up the largest segment of the
creative community in the United States, representing 39 percent of
artist/creative category, or nearly 830,000 workers. The number of trained
communication designers has been estimated by AIGA as 350,000—NEA estimates there
are 390,000 with a communication or graphic design degree.
Slightly more than 20 percent of designers reflect a minority race or ethnic
characteristic. Fourteen to 16 percent were foreign born—about the rate in the
national workforce, but a higher percentage than many of the other disciplines.
NEA reports estimates that 54 percent of the designer category are women. AIGA’s
membership is approximately 55 percent women, although we expect that to
increase—two-thirds of design students surveyed by AIGA are women.
Complete information is available from the NEA report, Artists and Arts Workers in the United States.
Although other data are offered in the analysis, the broad “designer” category
masks the relevant data for communication designers.
The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) is an annual online survey and data-management system designed to improve arts-school education through tracking the training, careers and lives of arts graduates.
Section: Tools and Resources -
job search, professional development, teaching, education, emerging designers, design educators, students
Executive director Richard Grefé finds evidence to show that the opportunity for design and
designers has never been greater.
Section: About AIGA -
education, AIGA Insight, business, students
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