Graphic design is one of those few career choices that are based on the individual’s actual skills, rather than the name of the impressive school he/she went to. However, many employers will simply refuse to look at a resume, no matter how experienced, simply because of the lack of a proper degree.
While it’s true that every employer will ask to see your portfolio, 91% of employers prefer candidates to be degree holders. It may seem quick and easy to jump right in and learn things by yourself, but there are clear benefits that come with taking the time to complete a formal graphic design education. From the knowledge and instruction you receive while in school to the opportunities available to you after graduation, the advantages are abundant.
Reasons why a degree might come in handy
Let’s talk about some of the reasons you should consider going to school.
There is not really a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. To be a good graphic designer you definitely do need to learn few things. While design sense is certainly something some people are born with, everyone needs to go through some kind of learning in order to succeed in graphic design. You will need to learn about design principles, typography, composition, and color theory.
You will need to learn how to talk about your work and how to present your work to a client. It helps to have some sort of background in graphic design. Only 25% of graphic designers are self-employed.
It is essential to learn to think like a designer, to think creatively, and to think innovatively, but how do you learn these things? Depends on the kind of person you are, graphic design is one those skills that you can learn without a formal education, with the help of online tutorials, books, and talking to people in the industry. However, graphic designers who lack formal education earn less than $27,000 per year in salary.
You cannot become a good designer without critique. In school you are surrounded by tutors and fellow students who can give you honest feedback all the time. Healthy criticism can bring an exceptional level of reformation to your work. Graphic designers with a degree can earn over $77,000 per year.
The most common misconception about learning graphic design is that is about learning editing software like Photoshop or Illustrator. While it’s true that the software is a big part of being a designer, but the software is just a means to an end – the way of visualizing your ideas. It is not going to do the creative thinking and problem solving for you. You cannot just expect to learn Photoshop and all of a sudden become a really good designer. 16% of well-educated graphic designer are sure to get employment in fields of newspapers, periodicals, and directory assistance books.
The gray area when it comes to getting a degree
The fact is, your portfolio is going to be the judgment of your value when it comes to graphic design. So, if you are, in fact, planning on getting a degree you can opt for something other than graphic design and take classes as an elective or an audit. Schoolapply and BulidOn are excellent sources to help resolve your dilemmas.
When you interview for a job as a graphic designer with a creative director or an art director, they are not going to be interested in your GPA, or where you went to school. What matters for them is what you learned and what you created. For the most part, that is going to be true.
Now, if you are called for an interview at a major company with a big corporate structure, you may not be interviewing with the person that you are going to work for. Rather, you might be interviewing with an HR person, or a hiring manager. You would require a degree to get through the door because of filtering.
Unlike other fields of visual media, graphic designers require very little on-the-job training to get started with their career. So a degree maybe in digital media, something as general as the business, or maybe even fine art would give a kick-start to your career in your desired field. A study has shown that the employment outlook for the graphic designers within the next decade is shown to be higher with an average increase of 7%.
So what’s it going to be?
To sum up it up, if you are wondering you should go to school or not, you need to think about what sort of learning suits you best and pick that for yourself. One option is not any easier than the other. It is just a different way of going about the same route.
In conclusion, it is best understood that learning to design all by yourself could be hard, you will enjoy going to school and having a formal education.
Things you should be aware of if you choose the self-taught route.
- Most job listings will require a degree or the equivalent experience.
- Without a degree, getting experience could become a hassle.
- People will always want to see your portfolio.
- Try building your portfolio by doing some freelance jobs.
- A big corporate route is out of the question because they tend to value degrees.
But it’s all good, because there are plenty of companies out there who will value your work without a professional degree.