The 90-minute drive to New York is not the only reason some New Jersey residents live here. If you live in New Jersey long enough, you’ll discover that The Garden State actually has a lot to offer. For starters, New Jersey has more than 50 resort cities and towns including famous spots like Atlantic City, Cape May, and Asbury Park. Next, the state has an impressive track record when it comes to producing celebrities. Just a few include Jack Nicholson, Dana Elaine Owens—better known as Queen Latifah, Whitney Houston, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, and Shaquille O’Neal. Next, tourism is the second-largest industry in the state, and New Jersey is so magnetic that it has the highest population density in the U.S., with 90 percent of the state’s residents living in urban areas.
Finally, New Jersey is home to some of top academic institutions in the world and it has an impressive arts and culture scene. Princeton University, Rutgers, New Jersey Institute of Technology and Montclair State University are just a few top New Jersey colleges and art museums such as the New Jersey Museum of Contemporary Art (NJMoCA), Noyes Museum of Art, Newark Museum, Montclair Art Museum (MAM), and Princeton University Art Museum dot the landscape.
Although it’s safe to assume that no U.S. city can compete with New York when it comes to the number of leading creative agencies, some New Jersey cities have their fair share, with Newark and Jersey City leading the pack. Just a few include Turchette Agency, Looney Advertising, JK Design, and Fusion Creative. What this means is, after graduating with a graphic design degree here, employment opportunities should be easy to come by. You’ll have to find an accredited training program first, so read on to find out which New Jersey schools offer the best graphic design programs and where they are located.
New Jersey Graphic Design Schools
New Jersey is home to 66 Title IV Degree-Granting colleges and universities. Because they are Title IV, these schools are eligible for federal financial aid programs. This means, even the most expensive school is within reach for students that may need help financing their education. The schools below are a mix of public and private schools. Go public, and you can rest assured that tuition rates will be lower—especially for residents. Here you go.
Bloomfield College - Degrees Offered: BA Creative Arts and Technology (CAT) with a Concentration in Graphics for Print and Digital Media
Rutgers - Degrees Offered: BA, BFA Art with Specialization in Graphic Design (Newark campus); BA Art with Specialization in Electronic Arts (Camden campus), MFA Art (New Brunswick campus)
The College of New Jersey - Degrees Offered: BFA Graphic Design
Rowan University - Degrees Offered: BFA Studio Art with a Specialization in Graphic Design
New Jersey City University - Degrees Offered: BA, BFA Graphic Design; MA, MFA Graphic Design, Computer Arts, Graphic Design
Ramapo College of New Jersey, School of Contemporary Arts - Degrees Offered: BFA Communication Design with a Major in Visual Communication Design (Graphic, Print, Digital Publishing and Web Design, Interactive animation, Motion Graphics)
Montclair State University – Degrees Offered: BFA Graphic Design; MFA Studio Art
New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) - Degrees Offered: BA Digital Design. According to the school, this program prepares students for a career in Graphic Design, among others.
Kean University - Degrees Offered: BFA Graphic Design
William Patterson University - Degrees Offered: BFA Art with a Concentration in Graphic Design; MFA Art, students may choose Graphic Media, Printmaking, Art and Animation or other area.
More Graphic Design related programs to consider:
- Atlanta, Georgia; Savannah, Georgia; Lacoste, France; and SCAD eLearning
Employment and Salary Trends for New Jersey Graphic Designers
At the time this article was published, New Jersey was home to 42,600 professionals working in Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media (ADESM) occupations. An impressive 5,070 of these artists were graphic designers. They averaged $56,030 per year, up from $50,090 in 2012 when the state was home to 5,440 graphic designers. Nationwide, graphic designers average $50,670 per year (mean) and $45,900 (median). Overall employment is expected to increase by one percent for the 2014-2024 decade. The BLS previously reported a seven percent increase for the 2012-2022 decade.
It is important to note that in 2014 around one in five graphic designers were self-employed. This means, New Jersey is likely home to an even larger population of graphic designers, and they may make more or less than the average based on a variety of factors such as company, industry, location, position, level, and more. For example, according to the BLS, “senior designers, who may supervise junior staff or have some decision-making authority that reflects their knowledge of graphic design,” currently earn a median salary of $60,000.
Further, solo designers who freelanced or worked under contract,” says the BLS, “reported median earnings of $57,000. Design directors, the creative heads of design firms, or in-house corporate design departments,” earn $95,000. “Graphic designers with ownership or partnership interests in a firm or who are principals of the firm in some other capacity” averaged $95,000 per year.
As December 17, 2015, the industries with the highest levels of employment for graphic designers are:
- Specialized Design Services (average $48,240 per year)
- Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services ($45,920)
- Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers ($40,720)
- Printing and Related Support Activities ($37,720)
- Wholesale Trade ($44,080)
The top paying industries for graphic designers are:
- Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation) (average $77,420 per year)
- Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing ($71,340)
- Securities and Commodity Contracts Intermediation and Brokerage ($64,460)
- Other Telecommunications ($63,910)
- Scientific Research and Development Services ($62,570)
While graphic designers may find employment opportunities in a number of New Jersey cities, the New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division has the highest employment level in this occupation, it has the fifth highest concentration of jobs and location quotients and at $65,430 per year, it is the seventh highest paying metro area for graphic designers.
Awesome Animation Fact: These are the only animated Disney movies where the parents are both alive and present during the film: 101 Dalmatians, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Mulan, Hercules and Sleeping Beauty. –E! Loves