It's a great career choice!
Graphic design has evolved way beyond the days of cut and paste layout art. Today Graphic Designers touch on so many aspects of art.
You can specialize in an area such as Brand Development and Design, Logo Design, Motion Graphics, Editorial, Web Design (UX/UI) and so much more. All based on your one degree track.
Graphic designers can concentrate in typography, making them typographers and we all read signs, see movie and tv titles, look at wordmarks, book covers and so much more with text.
The options of what a graphic designer can do in a world ruled by visual messages is really limitless.
What you need to figure out is what sets you apart from everyone else, it's not just a strong portfolio, but it is also a good work ethic, strong attention to detail, deadline commitments and personality.
In todays job market you are drilled down to key words. Software scans your resume for specific trigger words before it ever looks at your portfolio - one of the top scans is your degree. Get your Bachelors because that is a huge factor in if your resume and portfolio ever make it past the application stage.
Your portfolio should be designed and presented both in web and print and be directed in your area of expertise but also towards the job you're going after. So if you're an illustrator and you are applying for a job in motion graphics, your portfolio should reflect motion graphics as the primary with emphasis on your illustration talent.
I don't want to discourage you, so let me point out that despite today's method of searching possible employment candidates, your talent and experience is still very valuable and definitely will be seen by potential employers. When you're in college getting your degree, take every advantage you possibly can to do professional work, whether it's internships or work study programs in your field. If it's volunteer design work for a school organization or an outside not for profit. Create published work during your college career and gain the experience, body of work and professional reference. This also goes a long way during the after college job hunt.
I think the reason that you're getting lots of different opinions is because so many people have wildly different personal and professional stories, no matter what the profession! This may seem like a terribly obvious answer, but bare with me :)
Graphic Design is absolutely a valid area of design to pursue. The only thing is that even just saying 'Graphic Design' is VERY broad. As an art school alumni, AND a graphic design professional, I can tell you that you really need to spend some time thinking about where you'd like to end up professionally! Now, I know that's a very annoying answer that seems like there may not be any effort put into it, BUT I promise you, that thinking about that question will help you greatly.
To give you an idea of the areas of graphic design that are available are, in no particular order: Graphic Designer for print, Graphic Designer for Experiential Design, Graphic Artist for Apparel, Graphic Designer for an Agency or Studio, etc.
Due to the fact that there are many different fields UNDER that title, I think (and this is my personal opinion) that some people get stuck at a basic level and don't know how to expand their career from there, or maybe, don't really know what the path upward looks like. I can't say that I blame them… I think an important area to look into is where Graphic Design meets the future of Design, itself. You may not start out with all the answers, but what I can tell you is that the use for design is everywhere and in everything that we touch. Books, magazines, websites, print campaigns, video, UX/UI - thinking about what companies inspire you, or what types of design products/projects have inspired you personally, will give you an idea of what area to start your pursuit.
I would HIGHLY suggest, if you're interested in design/graphic design, to take classes that have to do with the digital realm. You don't necessarily have to become a super coder, but it would be very smart to take UX/UI classes to bridge that gap from design to implementation. Tech is the future; let's be honest. If you're more inclined to draw and design, there are areas of design, like apparel, where you can use your talents to create art for garments or apparel companies.
There are always going to be areas in every profession that people have difficulty with; I think the key is to adapt and keep learning. That is so important! Every individual will learn differently in school and gain a different set of skills and enthusiasms depending on how hard they apply themselves and how hungry they are to learn and grow.
Creds: 10 years of experience in apparel/design
School: Art Center College of Design
Marissa recommends the following next steps:
I know a lot of product and UX designers start off as graphic designers. It's a versatile degree where you can stay doing that for your entire career or use it as a jumping off point to start something else. It really depends on what type of design interests you. If you're not really sure exactly what type of design interest you, and you're unsure about doing specialized degrees, graphic design can provide a broad skillset.
In short, yes great choice, if you enjoy it. Try it out, and make your decision from there.
Daniel recommends the following next steps: