Computer Graphics Specialist

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Computer Graphics Specialist


Computer graphics is a powerful medium. Increasingly, businesses, agencies and organizations communicate information and knowledge though visual means. In the last few years, computer graphics has found its way into the mainstream of society, from entertainment, and engineering design, to the web and virtually every industry imaginable.

New opportunities are unfolding for people with high visualization abilities, who can use computer graphics tools to visualize scientific concepts and for the analysis and manipulation of complex three-dimensional information. Computer graphics specialists are the experts who use computers and related technologies to create and manipulate electronic images.

They consult with managers and clients about projects, and create sketches or layouts of their ideas. Once they get a sketch approved by the clients, the specialist will begin using various computer programs to transfer the image from paper onto computer software. This can involve writing and designing programs from scratch, or applying existing programs to help them in their work.

These specialists apply their talents to three-dimensional cartoons, video games, television and film. They use CAD (computer-aided design) systems to design models of building, cars or entire environments. CAD systems can also be used when designing models for physicians, surgeons and scientists. Computer graphics specialists also create geographical, topographical, meteorological, and environmental impact maps; charts; tables; and graphs to organize information for businesses and organizations.

In the ever-changing world of computer technologies and design, computer graphics specialists must be on the cutting edge of both hardware and software developments. They are helping spread information globally, enabling business and organizations to share their knowledge and experiences with the international community.
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  Interests and Skills  
Computer graphics specialists must be able to pay close attention to detail and maintain good hand-eye coordination when working on projects. They must possess the ability to visualize three-dimensional objects, should be good at math, and feel comfortable with computers. They should be methodical, patient, and accurate, as well as creative, and be able to work well under pressure. They should be good communicators, able to work with others, as well as possess the self-discipline and stamina to work in their own when necessary.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Consult with management and staff on the project
  • Make detailed cost estimates of different design options
  • Write programs if necessary
  • Develop and prepare designs and drafts from preliminary concepts and sketches
  • Study drafts, information and instructions from the client or engineer
  • Operate computer-aided design (CAD) programs
  • Check and verify design drawings to conform to specifications and design data
  • Make the necessary changes to the designs, drawings or specifications
  • Write technical reports
  • The typical day for a computer graphics specialist will involve working with computers, analyzing, developing and implementing programs. They will spend some of each day with others, brainstorming new design projects, looking into programs to help create designs, and pitching project ideas to clients and supervisors. The job doesn't allow for much travel, as most of the work can be done from home or a head office, unless they need to consult with colleagues at locations all over their community.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Computer graphics specialists work in both the public and private sectors. Consulting and construction companies, utility, resource and manufacturing companies, private machine design firms, architectural and engineering consulting firms, electronic and software manufacturing companies and organizations in the petrochemical, food processing and energy industries employ CAD technologists. In the public sector, they work for all levels of government, and in hospitals and universities. They can also work independently, and contract out their business to different clients.
  • They work regular hours in offices, or set their own hours and work from home, depending on the nature of their employer. They work alone, or in a small team of other programmers and computer staff.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Computer graphics specialists can specialize in other aspects of computer programming. They can get into software and web design. There are also jobs in administration, PC support and website maintenance. Graphics specialists can open their own businesses, or write a column or book about computer design for the general public. There is also IT instruction, at colleges and universities.

  Educational Paths  
Individuals wanting ot pursue a career as a computer graphics specialist should complete either a bachelor's degree in computer science or in another discipline with a significant programming and design components, such as mathematics, commerce or graphic design; or a college program in computer science. There are a number of three- and four-year degree programs, two-year diploma programs and one-year certificate programs in this field offered by universities, colleges, technical institutes and private vocational schools. They should also consider taking a few psychology and business management courses.

Some individuals might choose to pursue a certificate in CAD drafting or design engineering technology. These are available through associations of engineering or applied science technologists and technicians.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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