Digital media is a multidisciplinary degree that covers areas such as visual thinking, 2D design, imaging, visualization, technical communication, fine arts, and more. Some programs offer concentrations in areas such as digital visualization, digital animation and digital interaction and game design. As such, graduates will have the skills needed to work in a variety of industries from advertising and public relations to animation and television and film. In North Carolina, and across the U.S., these skills are in high demand.
To keep up with the demand, many of the state’s top colleges and universities have developed digital media degree programs at all levels. Continue reading to find out which North Carolina schools offer top-tier digital media programs and where to find them.
North Carolina Digital Media Schools
North Carolina is home to 139 Title IV colleges and universities. Title IV schools are eligible for federal financial aid programs, which makes them more accessible to students with financial need. Many of the state’s top Title IVs offer programs for aspiring artists, designers, and media professionals of all kinds. Just a few popular options for aspiring digital media include:
Queens University of Charlotte – Degrees Offered: BA in Journalism and Digital Media
University of North Carolina at Charlotte - Degrees Offered: BFA Art with a Concentration in Digital Media
North Carolina State University – Degrees Offered: PhD Communication, Rhetoric & Digital Media
Wake Forest University - Degrees Offered: BA Studio Art with a Concentration in Digital Media
More Digital Media related programs to consider:
- San Francisco & Online
- Winter Park, FL & Online
Employment and Salary Trends for North Carolina Digital Media Professionals
As mentioned, digital media professionals work in a variety of fields from multimedia art and animation to advertising, film and video, radio and television broadcasting and more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these occupations are categorized under the broad group "Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media" (ADESM) occupations. North Carolina is home to 40,150 professionals in this group, and they earn an average of $49,350 per year. In 2013, the state was home to 39,780 ADESM professionals averaging $49,340.
To give you an idea of what digital media professionals earn by industry, take a look at the most current BLS figures for the following:
North Carolina-based multimedia artists and animators average $60,800 per year. The state is home to 790 professionals in this field. In 2013, North Carolina was home to 950 multimedia artists and animators averaging $57,190.
North Carolina is home to 5,260 graphic designers earning an average salary of $46,180 per year. In 2013, the state was home to 5,080 designers averaging $43,980.
Employment and Salary Trends for North Carolina Media and Communications Professionals
As of March 25, 2015, the U.S. was home to 25,530 media and communications professionals averaging a mean annual wage of $51,440 per year. In 2013, the U.S. was home to 22,030 workers in this field averaging $52,550 per year. It is important to note that individual salaries may vary greatly by location, industry, and more. For example, media and communications professionals in radio and television broadcasting average $47,500 per year, while those in sound recording average $68,640 per year.
Further, in Florida, the average salary for media and communications professionals is $43,780 per year, while North Carolina's 170 media professionals average $52,550 per year, up from $20,030 in 2013. At $102,210 per year, New Mexico offers the highest average salary for media and communications professionals, followed by Colorado ($71,560 per year), District of Columbia ($69,600), Georgia ($63,100) and New York ($61,510).
The top paying industries for media and communications workers are:
- Wholesale Electronic Markets and Agents and Brokers (average salary $99,250 per year)
- Medical Equipment and Supplies Manufacturing ($75,450)
- Professional and Commercial Equipment and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers ($70,930)
- Sound Recording Industries ($68,640)
- Scientific Research and Development Services ($61,480)
The states with the highest employment levels are:
- New York
The industries with the highest employment levels are:
- Motion Picture and Video Industries
- Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools
- Radio and Television Broadcasting
- Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services
- Promoters of Performing Arts, Sports, and Similar Events
It is important to note that many media and communications professionals work independently. This means, the actual number of professionals working in this field is likely much higher than reported. Individual salaries for independent workers may be much more or less than the average as well. To find the best opportunities, whether you are seeking a salaried position or your first client, consider exploring North Carolina's largest cities first. They include Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Durham, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, Cary, Wilmington, and High Point.
Awesome Animation Fact: Bugs Bunny has a Flatbush accent, an equal blend of the Bronx and Brooklyn dialects (of the New York Accent). Some of the rabbit's most popular phrases include “Of course you realize, this means war,” “Ain’t I a stinker?” and “I knew I shoulda’ taken that left turn at Albuquerque,” delivered in that interesting 'Flatbush' accent, of course. –Facts ‘O Fun, A.J. Kovitz