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How Much Does Computer Graphics School Cost?

Computer Graphics School Prices

Computer graphics is the confluence of art and computer science. As such, it can be the perfect career for somebody who possesses the sensibilities of both an artist and a computer geek. If this describes you, read on to find out what to expect from a career in the growing field of computer graphics (CG).

Computer Graphics Career Considerations

The first thing that comes to many peoples' minds when they hear the term “computer graphics” is the CGI technology behind blockbusters such as The Matrix, Star Wars, and Avatar. And while it's true that the creation of three-dimensional objects on two-dimensional screens has revolutionized movie-making, CG applications extend far beyond Hollywood blockbusters. In addition to working as a 3D animator, computer graphics majors can establish careers in the disciplines that include the following:

  • Product design
  • Industrial design
  • Graphic design
  • Web design and development
  • Software development
  • Cartography (mapmaking)
  • Art director

Salary

Due to the large number of careers possible for computer graphics students, it's difficult to generalize about income. However, looking at a few common career choices—graphic designer, multimedia artist/animator, and commercial/industrial designer—provides some idea of income potential.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that graphic designers earn just over $44,000 per year. BLS data for multimedia artists and animators puts the median annual income for these professions at more than $61,000. For those who use their computer graphics skills to design manufactured products, BLS estimates a median annual income of nearly $60,000.

Education

A bachelor's degree in computer graphics qualifies students for many entry-level positions. If you're serious about a computer graphics education, look for schools that offer the discipline as its own major, rather than as a track or specialization within computer science or another major. It's also recommended that you focus on a particular area of computer graphics (say, 3D animation or product design) as early on in your education as possible.

An associate's degree may be sufficient for some entry-level computer graphics jobs, such as a graphic design assistant. Individuals looking to change careers might consider obtaining a graduate certificate in computer graphics. A master's degree in computer graphics is also possible, but you'll want to give some thought to whether the return on investment of an advanced degree is worth the cost.

Whichever level of education you pursue, you'll want to focus on building up a solid portfolio and demo reel in order to separate yourself from other job applicants post-graduation. Landing a computer graphics internship through your school is another great way to gain a leg up on the competition.

Computer Graphics School Average Costs

Contact individual schools for the most accurate tuition information. The following tuition costs are estimates only based on national averages. Actual costs may vary significantly.

  • The average cost of earning an associate's degree is $3,000 to $3,500 per year.
  • Attending a four-year school (bachelor's degree program) costs anywhere from $6,700 to $29,000 per year.
  • Note: These figures reflect tuition and fees only. Room and board, books and supplies, and other costs are extra.
  • Source: The College Board
  • Earning a master's degree, according to CBS News, costs $5,000 to $38,000+ per year.
  • A graduate certificate program in computer graphics might cost $5,000 to $15,000 or more depending on the school and number of credit hours required for completion.
  • Learn about paying for college from U.S. News & World Report.

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