Graphics Programmers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

If you are interested in graphics programming take classes that satisfy the admission requirements of the college or university that you plan to attend. Most major universities have requirements for English, mathematics, science, and foreign languages. Other classes that are useful include statistics, logic, computer science, programming, and if available, computer-aided design. Since graphics programmers have to have an artistic sense of layout and design, art and photography courses can also be helpful.

Postsecondary Training

A bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field is essential for anyone wishing to enter the field of computer graphics programming. It is not a good idea, however, to major in graphics programming exclusively, unless you plan to go on to earn a master's degree or doctorate in the field. According to the Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, a division of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM SIGGRAPH), it is better for you to concentrate on the area in which you plan to use computer graphics skills, such as art, engineering, film, video games, or digital media, rather than focusing on graphics classes.

Others complete a general computer science curriculum, choosing electives such as graphics or business programming if they are available. Because there are many specialties within the field of computer graphics, such as art, mapmaking, animation, and computer-aided design (CAD), you should examine the courses of study offered in several schools before choosing the one you wish to attend.

Competition for all types of programming jobs is increasing and will limit the opportunities of those people with less than a bachelor's degree.

Other Education or Training

Student and professional members of the Association for Computing Machinery can access online computing and business courses via the association’s Learning Center. Visit http://learning.acm.org for more information. The IEEE Computer Society offers career planning webinars and continuing education courses to its members. Visit https://www.computer.org/communities/student-activities/career for more information. 

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

No specific certification is available for graphics programmers. Two general computer-related certifications (certified computing professional and the associate computing professional) are available from the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals. Certification is also provided by various product vendors and software companies, as well as the tech association CompTIA. Although it is not required, certification may boost your attractiveness to employers during the job search.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Familiarity with graphics programming languages and the completion of an internship and on-the-job experience in an entry-level position will be useful for aspiring programmers.

To be a successful graphics programmer, you should be very skilled at using programming languages and have technical aptitude. You should be good at solving problems, patient, persistent, able to work well under deadline pressure, have an analytical personality, and have an aptitude for mathematics. You should also have strong writing and speaking skills so that you can communicate effectively with your coworkers and supervisors.