What is a Design Major and is it Right for Me?

Are all of your Instagram posts works of art? Do you love going above and beyond when drawing on Snapchat photos? Is Photoshop your second home?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might want to consider becoming a design major, where you’ll be able to learn about the principles of design, the mediums people use to create those designs and the history of art as a whole.

What is a design major?

Contrary to popular belief, being a design major is about more than just creating pretty things. It’s both an art and science, and many of your classes will deal with both of these over the course of your college career.

Design majors take courses in several different areas of study including art history, modeling, drafting, computer programming, studio art, typography and more.

Is it right for me?

If you’re still trying to decide if a design major is the right path for you, here are several key questions to ask yourself.

  • Am I able to receive and incorporate constructive criticism from my professors as well as my peers? Am I excited to share my work with others, or do I dread it? Do I have a thick skin?
  • Am I a team player when I have to work with peers on projects?
  • Do I like spending a lot of time alone working on my designs?
  • Am I ready and willing to still spend time on academic parts of the major and put as much time and effort into them as my art?
  • Do I have a keen eye for design and know when art looks “good” and when it doesn’t?
  • What can I do with a design degree?

For art-minded students, graduating with a design degree can open up a huge number of potential career options, including positions like illustrator, animator, art director, graphic designer, fashion designer, photographer, marketing professional, textile maker, programmer, web designer, video game designer and theater/set designer.

What do designers earn?

Because they’re in a creative field, design careers vary greatly, and therefore so do their salaries. A typical entry-level graphic designer earns around $40,000 but this could vary based on where you live (for instance, in New York City versus St. Louis) and if you’re working for a larger firm or independently as a freelancer.

Moreover, many people who major in design (especially recent grads) often take on lots of freelance projects at the beginning of their careers, which means income may be inconsistent from month to month. That doesn’t mean your total earnings will be low; it just means they could vary over time.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What Types of Skills Are Best for a Design Major? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 6 Things to Do in Your First Week at a New Job.

What Types of Skills Are Best for a Design Major?

Looking to major in design? Stellar art skills aren’t the only talents you’ll need to succeed in college. Here are five areas that are important for doing well as a design major and in your design career after college.

Creative skills

Obviously, having a keen eye and a feel for beautiful art is extremely important if you want to major in design. But going above your own creative skills, you’ll also have to learn about how others created their art and the thought processes that went into their pieces.

Part of creativity is knowing how and when to gain inspiration from others, and you’ll spend lots of time focusing on that as a design major.

Computer programming skills

Surprisingly enough, design majors need to be relatively tech-savvy nowadays, especially if they hope to pursue careers in design after college.

Knowing how to use programs like Adobe Creative Suite, HTML and CSS will propel you light-years ahead of everyone in the job market, and that begins with paying attention to honing these skills in college.

Organizational skills

Design majors are often juggling any number of projects at various stages of completion, so being able to keep yourself organized both in terms of logistics (for instance, knowing where all of your art supplies are) and creativity (like understanding what’s inspiring each particular piece) is extremely important.

Organization skills become more important if you begin getting paid for your work, even as a college student. Many design majors juggle freelance work on top of schoolwork, and it’s crucial for you to keep these different assignments straight and to also handle the business aspects of running your own side gig.

Ability to take criticism

Whether you’re working with peers, professors or clients, you’ll have to have a thick skin as a design major and know how to incorporate criticism and feedback from all sorts of people. Creative majors are definitely not for the weak-minded and often require a certain amount of resilience.

Interpersonal and communication skills

Being able to communicate effectively with people you’re working with as well as people who are critiquing your art is crucial if you want to succeed as a design major. Even more importantly, if you begin taking on clients as a design major, you’re going to have to flex your interpersonal skills to deal with client requests and handle them efficiently and effectively.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What is a Design Major and is it Right for Me? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as What is an Internship?

What is an Architecture Major and is it Right for Me?

Whether you’re looking at houses, shopping centers, factories or skyscrapers, chances are an architect was involved in creating the designs. If you’re looking for a college major that will allow you to mix subjects like math and business while also praising your keen design eye, you might want to consider taking on a major in architecture.

What is an architecture major?

Architecture is a mix of art, science, math and business so it requires you to have a robust background in a variety of subjects. It also requires a five-year course of study rather than the standard four years for an undergraduate degree.

Throughout your time as an architecture major, you’ll take classes in areas like math (including geometry, algebra, trigonometry and calculus), science (most likely physics and engineering), statistics, computer science (particularly 3D modeling and linear programming) and art (such as drawing and art history). If the idea of undertaking a truly interdisciplinary course of study excites you, a major in architecture may be the one for you.

Is it right for me?

Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re considering becoming an architecture major:

  • Am I a strong math and art student? Can I just as easily solve complex equations as I can design models?
  • Do I want a major that is interdisciplinary (combining two or more academic disciplines) instead of focusing on a particular subject?
  • Do I handle criticism/critiques well, regardless of whether it comes from professors or peers?
  • Am I willing to work long hours to get projects done? Am I able to work well with others on these projects?
  • Regardless of the program, majoring in architecture is challenging at any college, so you must be prepared to spend lots of time on your studies and working on a variety of different projects at once.

What can I do with an architecture degree?

Architecture majors can embark on a wide variety of career paths after graduation, from construction and engineering to design and theatre.

Possible career paths include (but certainly are not limited to) becoming a licensed architect, urban planner, civil engineer, carpenter, building designer, mechanical engineer, set designer or surveyor. And that’s just the start. For more advice on what career opportunities are best for architecture majors, read Career Opportunities for Architecture Majors (link).

What do architects earn?

Salary can vary greatly by the type of job you do, but architects earn an average annual income of $79,300, with some salaries as high as $120,000. Your salary also depends on if you’re working independently or within a larger firm, as well as whether or not you’re working in the private or public sector.


Next, learn more about this college major such as Finance and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Get a Letter of Recommendation.

What Types of Skills Are Best for an Architecture Major?

Think that majoring in architecture sounds useful, but aren’t sure if you’ll be able to thrive in the department? Here are five major skill sets you’ll need to be successful during your college years as an architecture major and beyond.

Math and science skills

Even though many people see an architect’s finished product and think it’s about design, architecture is heavily rooted in strong mathematical and scientific skills, including geometry, algebra, engineering, programming and physics.

To succeed as an architecture major, you’ll have to have strong math and science skills to understand how and why certain designs and ideas may or may not work before they’re built. Your calculations, after all, could make or break a project.

Design skills

Unsurprisingly, design skills are extremely important, regardless of whether you’re creating a new piece of machinery or designing an entire building. Architecture majors need to be able to have calculations to back up their claims, but anything they build must look elegant as well.

Analytical and problem-solving skills

When it comes to majoring in architecture, it’s not enough to know which equations to type into a calculator or computer program; you need to understand how those calculations act in practice and not just in theory. You also need to be able to understand why certain numbers aren’t working out as well as how to fix them.

The same principles go for the design side of being an architecture major: Why are some designs and plans better than others? How can you continuously improve your work? This desire to never leave anything unsolved will serve you well in architecture.

Team-building skills

Architecture majors are working with many other people, like designers, engineers and other architecture majors when creating complex projects, so it’s important to know how to not only be part of a team but how to lead one when necessary.

Communication skills

Because you will be working with so many different types of people as an architecture major, you’ll have to be able to efficiently and effectively communicate your ideas to people who work on various projects. This also means knowing how to explain your ideas and findings in a number of different ways so people of varying knowledge and experience levels can understand what you’re talking about.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What is an Architecture Major and is it Right for Me? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as What is an Internship?

Types of Internships for Design Majors

One of the best things about being a design major is the ability to develop a broad range of technical and creative skills. And although design is considered primarily a creative field, these skills can have practical applications in multiple professions. The best way to find out which profession is right for you is by doing an internship. This will offer you some insights into different career paths while also giving you the type of hands-on experience that will make you a competitive candidate after graduation.

Here are some of the most common internships for design majors:

Graphic design intern

A graphic design internship will give you the chance to learn about graphic design, a field dedicated to communicating ideas visually. As a graphic design intern, you’ll assist with technical tasks such as creating hard and soft copy files, writing reports and mailing, printing and stuffing materials. You’ll also shadow a graphic designer, attend meetings, compile databases and assist the design team with creative work related to existing projects. During your internship, you’ll learn how to turn creative processes into practical ones and you’ll also develop the ability to think on your feet and get organized in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment.

UX design intern

The UX in UX design stands for user experience, and this is what a UX design internship focuses on. During your internship, you’ll learn what goes into ensuring that the user experience of a particular website is as smooth, easy, comfortable and all-around amazing as possible. As an intern, you’ll learn how to create responsive app or digital product designs and you’ll understand exactly how much knowledge and effort goes into every step of the UX design process.

Interior design intern

An interior design internship will acquaint you with the various skills and technicalities involved in an interior design career. From note-taking during client meetings, to organizing and coordinating materials, visiting vendors and answering emails, you’ll be involved in every aspect of the role. You’ll also assist with the actual design process, learning to tailor designs according to client interests, budgets and overall feasibility. It’s an experience that will help you decide if you have the inclination and skills required to make it as a full-time interior designer.

Fashion design intern

A fashion design internship offers you a behind-the-scenes look into the world of fashion. From cutting fabric to planning model fittings and managing the logistics of fashion events, this internship will give you an in-depth look at everything involved in designing and manufacturing clothes. Whether you’re working for a store brand or a large fashion house, this experience will help you build the skills you need to work in fashion.

Design internships can be both informative and fulfilling, making the most of your creativity, drive and ambition. By taking on one or more of these internships during your time in college, you’ll be able to learn the ins and outs of a design-related profession and to find a career path that’s just right for you.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What is a Design Major and is it Right for Me? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Become a Confident Public Speaker.

Types of Entry-Level Jobs for Design Majors

Design majors are known for their creativity and diverse skills, qualities that make them employable in many professional industries. If you’re a design major and you’ve already taken on a design internship, then you have some idea of where you degree can take you and how you can turn your major into a rewarding career. From designing websites and graphics to assisting in the planning of Fashion Week, you have a range of opportunities ahead of you.

Here are some of the most common entry-level jobs for design majors:

Graphic designer

As a graphic designer, you could be employed by a nonprofit organization, a huge advertising firm or a media company. As part of your role, you’ll be involved in the process of preparing, coordinating and creating materials for everything from a logo to a branding campaign. This involves coming up with an initial idea, presenting it to the client and then delivering the finished product. In addition to being able to design and present your ideas, you’ll also need to regularly update your knowledge by keeping up to date on design and media trends and taking additional classes and workshops. This is a great position for someone who wants to maximize their creative skills while helping companies bring their brands to life.

UX designer

A UX designer is responsible for helping customers navigate an app or product easily by ensuring the navigation process is as hassle-free and exciting as possible. From designing the look and feel of a company’s website to developing a design that thoroughly reflects a product’s goals, a UX designer is in charge of all of the elements that go into creating a great user experience. In this position, you’ll use your expertise to optimize a potential customer’s experience by dialing up its functionality, ease of use and aesthetics to the highest possible degree. This is a perfect role for someone interested in the more technical and digital side of design.

Fashion designer

As a fashion designer, your creativity and sense of style will be put to use as you work with a clothing brand to design clothes for their customers. Your day-to-day tasks will consist of sketching designs, coordinating with manufacturers and working through the technical aspects of clothing design. You’ll also need to stay on top of current fashion trends both in the U.S. and abroad to ensure that your designs are both marketable and on-brand. This is a wonderful role for someone who is interested in fashion and knowledgeable about how to turn great designs into a stunning collection.

Personal stylist

If you’re a shopaholic with a design major under your (wonderfully chic) belt, an entry-level job as a personal stylist could be a dream come true. As a stylist, you’ll assist clients in finding exactly what they’re looking for and what fits with their personal style. This position is usually found in-house at a clothing boutique or department store and will connect with you clients from every walk of life, including business professionals for Fortune 500 companies and celebrities. This is a great position for someone interested in working directly with clients and who enjoys helping people look their best.


Majoring in design can also prepare you for an entry-level teaching position such as a high school design or art teacher. You can even run design courses and workshops at a community college or at a private institution. This is a great opportunity for someone who is interested in sharing their knowledge with others and passionate about helping students learn all about the various elements of design.

A design major offers you a great chance to develop a broad range of skills that will make you marketable in design-related fields and beyond. In order to determine what position is best for you, take some time to assess your interests and then consider taking on an internship to find a career path that’s just right for you.

Next, learn more about this college major such as Types of Internships for Design Majors and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 6 Things to Do in Your First Week at a New Job.

Career Opportunities for Architecture Majors

An architecture major is a great opportunity to develop both technical skills and creative ones. And because of the broad range of skills involved in this major, students studying architecture can find career opportunities in many industries including interior design, urban planning and construction management.

Here are some of the many fields where you can use your architecture degree:


The most obvious career option for architecture majors is also the most popular one. By working as an architect, you’ll be designing buildings for a range of clients including large corporations. The key to finding a specific type of architecture that fits your personality is to ask yourself what kind of buildings you’d like to design. Whether the answer is giant skyscrapers or single-family homes, identifying the types of structures (and clients) you’d like to work with will help you find a role at an architecture firm that fits your style.

Interior Design

Another popular field for architecture majors is interior design. This involves coming up with designs that maximize the efficiency and style of interior spaces. A designer breathes beauty and life into a space, while also making sure the designs are safe and functional. Just like with architecture, working in interior design is all about find out what types of spaces are most appealing to you and focusing your energies there.


Whether working to build a room, a patio or a cute little cafe, architecture majors can start a career in construction management where they will be involved in coordinating building processes. This can include everything from preparing contracts to tracking the progress of craftsmen to ensuring that the right materials are available for each project. This is a great role for someone who is interested in the management aspect of construction.

Urban planning

An architecture major can also specialize in urban planning, where you make the best use of community land by coordinating, developing, analyzing and reviewing resources. As an urban planner, you’ll work alongside public officials and community members to help an area adapt to evolving problems, goals and economies. It involves not just systematic planning, but also creativity, two key factors that emerge from an education as an architect.


The general skill set you’ll acquire as an architecture major transfers well into many fields of business. These industries require just as much of planning, conceptualization, communication and attention-to-detail as jobs in architecture and design. As a result, architecture majors can sometimes find themselves in the roles of project managers or directors, working to build companies rather than the buildings that house them.


Your degree in architecture can also be put to use in education, whether this is through teaching high school math or conducting a seminar on the basics of interior design at a community college or private institution. Your architecture major can also put you on the road to earning an advanced degree, making you eligible for a teaching career in a university setting.

A major in architecture puts you in the running for some incredibly satisfying career opportunities. The best way to find out which one is right for you is to pick a field that interests you and then find an internship that will give you the hands-on experience you need to make your decision.

Next, learn more about this college major such as 6 Things to Do in Your First Week at a New Job and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as Why Do You Want to Work Here?

Types of Internships for Architecture Majors

If you’re majoring in architecture and want to know what it’s like to work as an architect on a day-to-day basis, there’s no better way of finding out than by doing an architecture internship. In fact, this field has a lot of great internships to choose from, each of which will offer you significant insights into what it’s like to work in the field.

Some of the best internships for architecture majors include:

Architectural model making intern

From scaling drawings to assisting with prototypes, an architectural model-making intern assists in the making of architectural models. In addition to being creative and requiring attention to detail, this role will give a hands-on understanding of how modeling works and why it’s such a crucial part of architecture.

Property development intern

A property development intern gains experience in the field by researching development sites, visiting prospective ones and interviewing potential clients in order to assist in the writing of business plans. Because this role is so cross-functional, you’ll learn how to work with architects and contractors, while managing development projects.

Design intern

A design internship is one of the most diverse internships you can take on since, depending on the design firm you choose, this can be focused on including interior, landscape or stage and set design. While the responsibilities vary depending on the type of design internship, they may include assisting with client presentations, participating in design teams, or even developing and visualizing concepts.

3-D rendering and interior design intern

If you’re interested in broadening your knowledge of interior design, a 3D rendering & interior design internship gives you the experience you need to make it in this profession. During your internship, you’ll participate in client presentations, update resources and communicate with vendors, or even in create quality 3D-visualizations.

Transportation intern

As a transportation intern, you’ll learn more about what keeps your city or nation going. By becoming a transportation intern, you’ll be taking on projects that teach you how to apply new technical tools, analyze data and make presentations. Best of all, you’ll be getting some deep insights into how transportations systems work and applying skills from your major to help make those systems even more effective.

Architectural design intern

An architectural design internship familiarizes you with the a-day-in-the-life of an architectural firm. You’ll get an around-the-clock view of the office, with your duties ranging from assisting higher-ups in aspects of architectural design to making client presentations and working with a construction team. You may also assist with general logistics and research out-of-state rules pertaining to design and construction.

Urban planning intern

An interest in the optimal use of land and community welfare translates well into an urban planning internship. As an urban planning intern, you may work for a public department or private firm, where your responsibilities will range from assisting in field investigations/ surveys to reviewing site plans.

By taking on an internship related to your architecture major, you’ll be able to figure out what career path you want to focus on after graduation. And with so many great options, from design to urban planning, you’ll be sure to find something that works for you.

Next, learn more about this college major such as Career Opportunities for Architecture Majors and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as What is a Chronological Resume?

Types of Entry-Level Jobs for Architecture Majors

Graduating with an architecture degree is an incredible accomplishment and one that opens doors to a lot of fantastic opportunities in the world of architecture and beyond. If you’ve already had a paid or unpaid internship in the field, then you have some idea of what to expect once you enter the workforce as a full-time employee. Even if you don’t, there are many great job opportunities that you should consider as you embark on your career path.

Here are some of the best entry-level jobs for architecture majors.

Assistant urban designer

If you’re interested in urban planning, working as an assistant urban designer is the perfect way to get started. There are openings at both public and private companies, and you will gain exposure to a range of responsibilities including surveying land, expanding or renovating a facility to meet present-day needs or even developing a transportation network. You will also likely be making presentations to community leaders and the public to raise awareness about plans for an upcoming project.

Assistant city planner

As an assistant city planner, you’ll be contributing to the process of determining the best use of the city’s land and resources. From gathering community input to preparing reports, drafting legislations, constructing new public housing and conserving the environment, there’s a lot you can learn in this position. And as you move through your career, you may go on to specialize in environmental or urban design, transportation planning or in other facets of city planning.

Junior architectural designer

This entry-level position offers a great start for aspiring architects. Your responsibilities will include ensuring the feasibility of building designs by using computer aided drafting, and working on different aspects of design with the principal architect and design team.

Project architect

As a project architect, you’ll make sure the project is completed on time and to the satisfaction of the client. You’ll also coordinate with your team, communicate with clients, work with designs and come up with an estimate of the budget.

Residential architect

If you’re employed as a residential architect, you’ll specialize in designing and building residential properties. Because of the differences between commercial and residential architecture, you may have more flexibility with your projects and could be self-employed, work for an architectural or construction company or be a real estate developer.

Graphic designer

The skills you’ve gained from your architecture major can be used in graphic design, helping an advertiser, public relations firm or small business communicate their message to the public.

Because of the varied skills gained during your major, graduating with a degree in architecture will allow you to apply your planning, problem-solving and design skills in a range of environments, giving you the opportunity to explore several opportunities and find the best fit for you.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Write a Resume That Stands Out and find answers to common interview questions such as Would You Describe Yourself as a Leader or a Follower?