Graphic Engineer Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a graphic engineer career? Get real job duties, career outlook and salary info to see if becoming a graphic engineer is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Graphic Engineer Career

While the title of graphic engineer can sometimes mean 'graphic designer' or 'graphic artist', a graphic engineer is typically a software developer who creates visual imagery for computer applications. Read the pros and cons of becoming a graphic engineer to learn more about this career.

Pros of Becoming a Graphic Engineer
Significantly above-average wages (annual median salary range among work specializations was $95,510-$102,880 in 2014)*
Faster-than-average employment growth (increase of 20%-23% expected from 2012-2022)*
You may have work-from-home and telecommuting opportunities*
Variety of work duties (test, develop, design and upgrade software)*

Cons of Being a Graphic Engineer
Long work hours are common*
Job security is dependent, in part, on your staying current on pertinent technologies*
Job opportunities being transferred to other countries (outsourcing) is a concern in this field*
Years of work experience can be required for employment**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **Job Postings from 2012

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

As a graphic engineer, your administrative responsibilities may include coordinating computer program evaluations and developing management reports based on your assessments. Technical duties may include creating graphics and related elements for various systems applications and conducting system maintenance. Your specific responsibilities will rely heavily on your specialization.

Specializations

As a software developer, you have the opportunity to specialize either in system software development or applications software development. By specializing in systems software, you would be responsible for designing and developing software programs that help a computer run and operate correctly. Focusing on applications software allows you to develop graphics and/or program elements for computer applications that the general public would use and interact with directly. You would usually manage each phase of the development process.

Salary and Job Outlook Info

In 2014, the annual median salary for software developers that specialize in systems software was $102,880, according to the BLS. The BLS also reported that, during the same year, the annual median salary for graphic engineers that specialize in applications software was $95,510. From 2012-2022, the BLS reported that developers working in applications were expected to see a 23% employment growth, while systems software developers were expected to see a 20% increase. Both of these rates are much faster than the national growth average.

What Are the Requirements?

Education

A bachelor's degree is most commonly required by employers, according to the BLS. Degree programs in computer science, information technology, software engineering and related disciplines are prevalent for professionals in this field. The BLS also reported that coursework in computer software development and computer programming is crucial for aspiring software developers.

Job Postings from Real Employers

In addition to a bachelor's degree, many employers are also looking for candidates with hands-on experience with relevant technologies and industry specific work experience. Below are some examples of real jobs postings from May 2012:

  • A computer firm in California wanted to hire a graphics software developer with a bachelor's degree. Candidate must have had more than two years of work experience with a minimum of three years of experience in working with complex C++ applications. Experience in drawing 2-D diagrams was also required.
  • A software company headquartered in New York was looking for computer graphics software engineers to work out of Pennsylvania, Texas and New York. Successful candidates would have at least a bachelor's degree, though a master's in computer science or engineering is preferred. Strong experience in Java software development, object-oriented C++ and high-performance graphics programming was required.
  • A computer group in Maryland wanted to hire a senior graphics engineer with a bachelor's degree or higher in computer science or a related discipline. At least four years of work experience was required - preferably within the game-industry. Candidate must also have been an expert in C/C++ and math. Hands-on experience with programming and rendering strategies is expected.

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

Since bachelors' degrees are the typical educational requirement in your field, obtaining a master's degree can increase your visibility in the job market and may be preferred by some employers. Graduate degrees in software and computer-related programs are available through campus-based and distance learning delivery formats. During your education, you may consider taking graphic arts courses in order to be a more competent graphics professional.

By joining a trade organization, such as the Software and Information Industry Association, you would have access to professional networking outlets. You would also receive industry information updates to help you stay current. Finally, acquiring certification in programs and applications that are dominant in your field may also be beneficial. Usually, various kinds of professional certifications are offered through software manufacturers, such as Oracle.

Alternative Career Paths

Computer Hardware Engineer

If your interests lie in developing system hardware components instead of graphics or graphics software, then you may want to consider becoming a computer hardware engineer. The BLS reports that the 2011 annual median salary for computer hardware engineers was about $99,000, compared to $89,000-$97,000 received by graphic engineers in the same year. However, the predicted employment rate increase during 2010 through 2020 is 9% for computer hardware engineers. This is a slower rate than the national average for all occupations. A bachelor's degree is typically required for such a position.

Industrial Designer

If you would like to work with graphics, but you don't want to be limited to designing for computer products, then becoming an industrial designer may be an option. As an industrial designer, you would use engineering and art techniques to develop concepts for a variety of manufactured products ranging from toys to cars. In 2011, the BLS reported that the annual median salary for industrial designers was about $61,000. From 2010-2020, the employment growth for this profession was about 10%, according to the BLS. You would typically need a bachelor's degree in a field like engineering, architecture or engineering to become employed in this field.

Popular Schools

  • Campus and Online Programs
    1. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. - New Media Journalism
      • M.S. - New Media Journalism
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Digital Arts and Design
      • BS - Simulation and Visualization (Campus)
      • BS - Game Design (Campus)
      • B.S. - Graphic Design
      • B.S. - Game Design
      • B.S. - Computer Animation
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Communication - Media & Arts Management and Promotion
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
      • HS Diploma
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Penn Foster Career School

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Career Diploma: Computer Graphic Artist
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. Digital Communication
      • B.S. General Studies - Fine Arts
    Associate's
      • A.S. General Studies - Fine Arts
  • Gainesville, FL

    University of Florida

  • Philadelphia, PA

    University of Pennsylvania

  • Campus Locations:
    9. CDI College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Diploma in 3D Modeling Animation & Design (Conception, Modlisation et Animation 3D - NTL.0Z)

Featured Schools

Full Sail University

  • M.S. - New Media Journalism
  • B.S. - Digital Arts and Design
  • BS - Simulation and Visualization (Campus)

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Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

  • Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology

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Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Communication - Media & Arts Management and Promotion

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Penn Foster High School

  • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
  • HS Diploma

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Penn Foster Career School

  • Career Diploma: Computer Graphic Artist

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Indiana Wesleyan University

  • B.S. Digital Communication
  • B.S. General Studies - Fine Arts
  • A.S. General Studies - Fine Arts

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