AIGA Career and Education Guide

Over its 100 years, and especially over the last twenty years, AIGA has seen many changes in the discipline. What graphic design is, what designers need to know, and who becomes a designer have all shifted as the computer went from being just a tool to also being our primary medium for communication. While many principles have stayed the same, what goes on in design school has followed practice. The number and variety of programs has multiplied, making the process of selecting a school more challenging and potentially rewarding. Finally, how jobs are advertised and how prospective candidates communicate with prospective employers have changed as well, as has the culture and context for many workplaces, requiring new approaches for how to find your first job.

AIGA invited Juliette Cezzar to update the 1993 career guide originally written by Sharon Helmer Poggenpohl. Together with input from educators across the country, the guide has been revised. Special thanks go to Rachel Berger, Aggie Toppins, and John Caserta, as well as Adobe, our sponsor.

Please send feedback, resources, or additions to .

Presenting Sponsor

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Together with AIGA, Adobe is creating innovative programs that give members a voice, nurture young designers and actively engage the creative community in dialogues about the important issues in the fields of design and technology. The alliance between AIGA and Adobe is a long-term partnership dedicated to advancing design and the use of technology across creative industries as well as understanding and highlighting the impact of design on the economy and society. Learn more about Adobe.

About the Author: <p><span>Juliette Cezzar is an Assistant Professor and Associate Director of the BFA Communication Design program at&nbsp;</span><a href="" target="_blank">Parsons / The New School</a><span>, where she was the Director of the BFA Communication Design and BFA Design &amp; Technology programs from 2011-2014. She established her small studio, e.a.d., in 2005. While books anchor the practice, her work has spanned a variety of media for clients such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art,&nbsp;</span><em>RES Magazine</em><span>, The Museum of Modern Art, Vh1, The New York Times, Eleven Madison Park, and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Art, and Planning. She is the co-author of&nbsp;</span><em>Designing the Editorial Experience</em><span>&nbsp;with Sue Apfelbaum (Rockport) and author-designer of&nbsp;</span><em>Office Mayhem</em><span>&nbsp;(Abrams),&nbsp;</span><em>Paper Pilot</em><span>,</span><em>Paper Captain</em><span>, and&nbsp;</span><em>Paper Astronaut</em><span>&nbsp;(Universe / Rizzoli). She holds an MFA in Graphic Design from Yale University and a professional degree (B. Arch) in Architecture from Virginia Tech.</span></p>

7 results
  • What is graphic design?

    What is graphic design?

    Graphic design, also known as communication design, is the art and practice of planning and projecting ideas and experiences with visual and textual content.

  • Who becomes a graphic designer?

    Who becomes a graphic designer?

    In trying to decide if a design career is right for you, it might be helpful to think about the qualities and interests that many designers share, and see if they overlap with your own. Since most high schools don’t offer design courses, it’s not easy to make the connection.

  • What do graphic designers need to know?

    What do graphic designers need to know?

    Technology, social context, and ways of working with others will change. In order to become and remain relevant in their practice, designers need to continuously learn and develop formal concepts, methods, theory, and techniques.

  • What goes on in design school?

    What goes on in design school?

    Design school is different from most other educational experiences. You'll learn outside of school through making, either alone on projects, with others in groups, or in professional contexts such as design studios and in-house departments.

  • How do design programs differ?

    How do design programs differ?

    The <span>number and variety of programs</span> where students can study graphic or communication design has exploded in the last 20 years, making it harder than ever to tell whether or not a particular program can truly offer what a design student needs to know in order to enrich their practice.

  • How to select a design school

    How to select a design school

    Beyond the <span>array of degrees and institutions</span>, schools vary in their thinking about what education is for, who should teach there, and how students can reach their academic goals. But once you’ve narrowed down what you’re looking for, how do you decide?

  • How to find your first design job

    How to find your first design job

    You’re not choosing the ladder you will eventually climb, or investing in some fictional “dues-paying” system. Your first job is simply an extension of your education, and what you learn from it will lead to your next job, and may lay the foundation for your professional habits. It’s not a prize to win, but rather a relationship to cultivate and learn from.