Becoming a Graphic Designer without a degree?

This is going to be a lot of text, I know. If you work as a graphic designer I'd really appreciate you reading my story and giving me some advice!

I'm a junior at a technical high school for Multimedia Communications and I'm extremely interested in the visual design aspect of that. I have had a talent for art my entire life and the principles of design came naturally to me when I started learning in school. For the last couple of years I've had my heart set on becoming a graphic designer-it's what I love to do and what I know I am good at. It is possible that next year I will be able to get a co-op job (going to work in a field related to my studies at school during the weeks I would normally spend in my shop). I have a teacher with excellent credentials and connections in the graphic design world who is hoping and working on getting some members of my class apprenticeships at graphic design firms. So that would give me real life experience and a head start.

With that background information out of the way, here is my real situation I have questions on. I have been considering attending a four year institute for Graphic Design, yet the way I was raised, college has never been my goal and it really isn't what I desire. I have other goals in life and college doesn't go along with those. (I do religious volunteer work and it's my first and foremost goal in life, yet I need a job to support myself obviously.) I have made the decision that I will not choose to attend college, with much thought put into it. I've also done a lot of research on the matter of becoming a graphic designer without a degree. While a lot of people say from experience that a degree is not REQUIRED to becoming a designer (although I'm aware that many employers will not hire you if you don't have a bachelors) they admit that it is very beneficial and it definitely helps.

Here is a list of my questions broken down for you (if you are able to answer only a couple of these it helps):

-Should I bother to make the effort to get into the graphic design field without a degree?

-Do you agree that it is more important to develop a strong portfolio than to have an impressive resume and college education background?

-Do employers REALLY care more about talent than credentials? Will they care that my teacher wrote in a recent recommendation letter for me that "the world of visual design needs more people like her"? Will they care that I'm a praised student or will they just want someone who went to college?

-Is an employer likely to hire a person just recently out of high school?

-What kind of difference will it make if I work an apprenticeship at a design firm? Do they even tend to hire apprentices as actual workers eventually?

-Would it be wiser to try and work for a company or put my efforts into freelance if I do not have a degree?

-If you are a Graphic Designer, how did you get into the field? Did you attend college? Did you work as an apprentice? Do you work freelance or under another company? If you could change the way you did it, would you?

I really just need to learn more about the field and any responses I get will help. Thank you for your honest answers in advance!

Update:

Just to add this: I'm not concerned with making loads of money. I don't need to be anybody important. I just want to know, basically, if it's worth my time and effort to put myself out there in the field without a degree. I'm aware that I likely wouldn't make as much money as someone with a degree, at least at first. Just wanted to mention that that is not my priority.

8 Answers

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  • Matt
    Lv 7
    8 years ago
    Best Answer

    Q: Should I bother to make the effort to get into the graphic design field without a degree?

    A: I've seen sh!tty designers come out of great design schools and I've seen amazing designer who are self taught. Having a degree doesn't necessarily ensure success in this industry.

    Q: Do employers REALLY care more about talent than credentials? Will they care that my teacher wrote in a recent recommendation letter for me that "the world of visual design needs more people like her"? Will they care that I'm a praised student or will they just want someone who went to college?

    A: Your portfolio (and a good interview) gets you your job. Not your grades, recommendations from teachers, where you went to college, or where you interned. If you do great work and aren't a pain in the *** you'll get hired. The catch is that agencies get a lot of resumes. There's a long processes of weeding people out and narrowing the list down. The creative director will read your resume. If they like what they see, they'll take the time to look at your portfolio. If they like that they'll schedule an interview....and so on. The problem is that a lot of people hiring wont take the time to look at your work if they see no design education background. The theory being that if you didn't go to school, odds are you aren't going to be doing amazing work. It's not exactly fair, but like I said, they have a lot of applicants to go through and they can't possible look at everyone's portfolio.

    Q: Is an employer likely to hire a person just recently out of high school?

    A: Most places require at least 2 years of professional experience to be considered. This is where internships and apprenticeships come in handy.

    Q: What kind of difference will it make if I work an apprenticeship at a design firm? Do they even tend to hire apprentices as actual workers eventually?

    A: Quite a few end up hiring their interns if they like them. It's far easier to keep someone around who is familiar with the operations than going through hiring process and training someone new from outside.

    Q: Would it be wiser to try and work for a company or put my efforts into freelance if I do not have a degree?

    A: Freelancing is NOT easy and a beg you not to rely on that for your income right out of school.

    Q: -If you are a Graphic Designer, how did you get into the field? Did you attend college? Did you work as an apprentice? Do you work freelance or under another company? If you could change the way you did it, would you?

    A: I went to an ordinary state university for Graphic Design. During that time I worked as a student designer in the colleges marketing department and also interned at a small design agency. I work a full-time gig for an agency but also do occasional freelance and consulting work on the side for some extra income. I don't think I'd change anything about the way I did it.

    Hope that helps. Email me if you have any other questions about the industry.

    advice@mattbruning.com

    ..

    Source(s): Graphic / Interactive Designer - 9 years http://www.mattbruning.com
  • 3 years ago

    Become A Graphic Designer

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    You ask a lot of really good questions. I wish the internet was around before I started college. I would of asked the same questions. Here are my answers:

    Should I bother to make the effort to get into the graphic design field without a degree?

    Yes, but you should work on a degree at the same time. You can make a portfolio to show potential clients and also earn a degree. Be ambitious and do both.

    Do you agree that it is more important to develop a strong portfolio than to have an impressive resume and college education background?

    I see your logic and it is possible but here is the difference. If you go to college you will learn from many different teachers and have a degree that shows you can make a commitment and follow through. On the other hand if you don't go to college you will basically teach yourself. A college education will give you more knowledge from different view points. You will also have a degree. Society respects college degrees. It is just the way it is. I do not think it will change. Yes, there are exceptions to everything but you can't go wrong if you go to college and apply yourself.

    Do employers REALLY care more about talent than credentials? Will they care that my teacher wrote in a recent recommendation letter for me that "the world of visual design needs more people like her"? Will they care that I'm a praised student or will they just want someone who went to college?

    Credentials help. A college education is a good thing. You can use common sense in a lot of things. What if you were hiring for a project and 2 people applied. One went to Penn State and had a great portfolio and the other one was self taught and had a great portfolio. You would most likely choose Penn State with a great portfolio. There is a lot of competition out there and you need to stay marketable and competitive.

    You also need to put yourself in real world situations. Here is why college is good. Let's say Company XYZ needs a new print and online campaign for their new car that is coming out and they want to reach a certain age group. Let's also say that you did a project like this in college. You would already have a background in it. These are the types of things that you work on in college. Projects based on real world situations. Let's say you taught yourself, what would you say?

    Is an employer likely to hire a person just recently out of high school?

    Yes, if there portfolio is really good and they see potential.

    What kind of difference will it make if I work an apprenticeship at a design firm? Do they even tend to hire apprentices as actual workers eventually?

    I wouldn't use the word apprentice. I would say intern. Yes, design firms hire interns. Apprentice sounds outdated or it would be better used for different types of work.

    Source(s): life experience
  • 4 years ago

    This Site Might Help You.

    RE:

    Becoming a Graphic Designer without a degree?

    This is going to be a lot of text, I know. If you work as a graphic designer I'd really appreciate you reading my story and giving me some advice!

    I'm a junior at a technical high school for Multimedia Communications and I'm extremely interested in the visual design aspect of that. I...

    Source(s): graphic designer degree: https://biturl.im/mbzZt
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  • 4 years ago

    visual communications is a good degree if you want to go into advertising or product design in the graphic design field

  • Elvia
    Lv 5
    3 years ago

    406

    Source(s): AskOnlineDegree - http://askonlinedegree.com
  • 8 years ago

    most designers are called by reading resume... rightly said creative director has no time to see your portfolio...go for degree.. nothing is lost.. gainer always

  • Nazim
    Lv 4
    8 years ago

    possible

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