Multimedia Designer Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

About this article
A multimedia designer's median annual salary is around $63,630, but is it worth the education requirements? Read real job duties and see the truth about career prospects to decide if becoming a multimedia designer is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Being a Multimedia Designer

Multimedia designers create illustrations and designs for many sources of media, particularly motion pictures and video games. Here are some pros and cons of becoming a multimedia designer so you can decide if it would be a good career for you.

PROS of Being a Multimedia Designer
Above average salary (median annual salary of about $63,630)*
Artistic outlet through computer work and computer design*
Education includes learning state-of-the-art computer skills and tools used in the industry*
Many choices in career paths (animation, video games or special effects for movies)*

CONS of Being a Multimedia Designer
Slower-than-average employment growth (6% expected between 2012-2022)*
High interest in the field can mean a competitive market*
Job often requires long hours as well as weekend or night shifts when meeting deadlines*
Team projects may require managing other department employees and relying on them to meet timelines for success*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Info

Job Description

Multimedia designers use computers to create designs, illustrations, 2-D and 3-D objects, storyboards, pictures and videos used for different media sources. This career may also require you to drawing, write scripts and create animated narratives. Using computer software, you could create animations to be used in video games, movies or television shows. You would typically be working alongside other animators and under the head animator and the director.

Salary and Career Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in May 2014 there were about 29,000 multimedia artists and animators employed in the nation earning a median annual wage of $63,630. At that time, the motion picture and video industry had the highest employment level, stated the BLS, though they predicted that both industries would see significant growth in the coming years. Overall, multimedia animators were only expected to see a 6% employment growth from 2012-2022, however. This slower-than-average growth could be attributed to outsourcing.

What Are the Requirements?

To become a multimedia designer, the BLS states that a bachelor's degree is not typically required by employers, but is a standard among animators in the field. Degrees in subjects like computer animation, graphic design or fine art may be useful. You should also have a portfolio of your work in order to display your talent and knowledge to prospective employers. In a multimedia design degree program, you can learn skills in applications, systems, art, advertising, graphics, video editing, desktop publishing and specific computer programs that are necessary for success. Many degree programs also include an internship to prepare you with experience in the field and to help you develop your portfolio. Some of the skills you will need in the industry include:

  • Writing and verbal communication skills
  • Critical thinking and active listening skills
  • Fine arts knowledge and technical ability
  • Artistic talent
  • Computer knowledge
  • English and reading comprehension

Job Postings from Real Employers

Employers typically require training and experience when hiring multimedia designers. Some also require knowledge of specific programs, like Flash, Java and Adobe Suite. Below are some examples of jobs postings that were open during April 2012:

  • A California company is hiring a multimedia designer to support projects in interactive graphics and multimedia. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree in a related discipline, along with a minimum of 3 years experience in the industry using Adobe PhotoShop, DVD Encore and Illustrator, Flash, Dreamweaver, Premiere and AfterEffects software. Knowledge of HTML, CSS, Web video production and AJAX are also requirements for consideration.
  • A financial education and counseling firm in New York is hiring a multimedia designer for its public relations department. This position is a full-time, 5-6 month assignment that requires excellent skills in HTML. A degree in graphic design or equivalent work experience is also required. Applicants must have both Mac and PC knowledge and proficiency in Powerpoint and Adobe Creative Suite.
  • A North Carolina information technology and computer service company is hiring a multimedia designer with digital video production and editing experience. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree in design or a related discipline. This employer would also prefer experience in design for retail or university settings. Mobile application and website design experience is also required.

How to Stand out

Because most employers require specific software knowledge, you can stand out by having training and experience in programs like Adobe PhotoShop or Illustrator. In most instances, you can take classes at local colleges for these programs, or the vendor may offer additional training or Web courses. According to the BLS, some employers also provide on-the-job training in their software for areas like animation.

Other Career Paths

Web Developer

If you're still interested in design work that involves computers but you're looking for a job with a greater rate of growth, you may consider becoming a Web developer. The BLS predicted that developers, in combination with information security analysts and computer architects, would see a 22% increase in employment from 2010-2020. Additionally, the BLS stated that this group of professionals earned a median annual salary of $78,000, where it was estimated that Web developers earned between $61,000 and $99,000 a year. In this career, you will use your multimedia skills for the purpose of website creation, which will require you to know HTML, Dreamweaver and various programming languages. A bachelor's degree in computer science is typically preferred for such a career.

Graphic Designer

If you're interested in pursuing a career based more in advertising, you may prefer becoming a graphic designer. This career typically focuses on using color, logos, images and ideas to create documents and media for corporations. According to the BLS, employment growth rates are expected to rise about 13% for this occupation from 2010-2020, which is faster than that of multimedia animators. However, the salary for graphic designers may not be as good. The BLS reported in 2011 that the median annual salary for these individuals was about $44,000. A bachelor's degree in graphic design is typically required for such a position.

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