C-Squared

Design Degree?

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C-Squared    980

I have already spent too many years in college earning a BA in communications and a business/marketing education masters, but lately, I am interested in exploring a full-fledged career in design. Does anyone have advice to share in terms of affordable degrees that will open doors in the field? I occasionally freelance and I am currently the head designer of a pro wrestling company - am I better off networking and padding my portfolio? Any advice is appreciated!

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In my experience*, degrees only matter if you're trying to get into a corporate headquarters. All other jobs it is more about networking and how good your portfolio is. The best designers I've ever worked with had less to no formal training in the field and the some of the worst had the most training (not saying this is true for everyone, but that has just been my experience). Do awesome work and network. That is the better route by far. 

 

*My experience: 2 year degree in Communication Art & Design, and have worked at smaller companies (ie. 3 man web design firm, smalltown newspaper, printing press) and larger companies (Target HQ, currently at Thomson Reuters). 

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JESSEDIEBOLT    101
3 hours ago, PaleVermilion81 said:

In my experience*, degrees only matter if you're trying to get into a corporate headquarters. All other jobs it is more about networking and how good your portfolio is. The best designers I've ever worked with had less to no formal training in the field and the some of the worst had the most training (not saying this is true for everyone, but that has just been my experience). Do awesome work and network. That is the better route by far. 

 

*My experience: 2 year degree in Communication Art & Design, and have worked at smaller companies (ie. 3 man web design firm, smalltown newspaper, printing press) and larger companies (Target HQ, currently at Thomson Reuters). 

 

You're right, but you can't magically create great work. A degree isn't just a piece of paper that you sign up for and receive a few years later. You learn things along the way...not only technical skills but also how to work with others, communicate your ideas and think in new ways.

 

People have a common misconception that being a great designer is all about making something that looks good. That's why people get jealous when huge agencies land million dollar contracts to create a simple logo. You need to learn how to conceptualize and sell unique ideas.....not impossible to do without school, but school definitely helps.

 

*I've finished my BFA program w/ focus in GD....finishing up a couple gen eds this semester and graduating in May.

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16 hours ago, JESSEDIEBOLT said:

 

You're right, but you can't magically create great work. A degree isn't just a piece of paper that you sign up for and receive a few years later. You learn things along the way...not only technical skills but also how to work with others, communicate your ideas and think in new ways.

 

People have a common misconception that being a great designer is all about making something that looks good. That's why people get jealous when huge agencies land million dollar contracts to create a simple logo. You need to learn how to conceptualize and sell unique ideas.....not impossible to do without school, but school definitely helps.

 

*I've finished my BFA program w/ focus in GD....finishing up a couple gen eds this semester and graduating in May.

 

The point I was making about degrees is people get so focused on getting all of this formal education in a field where formal education doesn't matter for the most part. It doesn't matter how much schooling you had or whether your degree is a 2 year degree, 4 year degree, or if you even graduated college with a degree. Basically it doesn't matter how you obtained the knowledge. What matters is that you have the knowledge. That is what I mean by degrees don't matter. Other fields the degree matters and you need a masters, Ph.D, etc. to even legally work in that field. Graphic design there is no requirement other than having the ability to do the job. When you start applying for jobs as a designer they don't look at your schooling, they look at your portfolio and experience. It's why so many job listings say things like "4 year degree or equivalent experience". Obtain the knowledge however you need to, whether that is by getting a degree or being self taught. 

 

So with that, keep in mind that my answer was a specific answer to this person's specific case. They are already highly educated, and are already doing graphic design work in the field. In no way would going to school for a graphic design degree help them. They'd waste so much time and money on getting something that realistically wouldn't open any more doors. They have education. They have design experience and their Behance shows they have ability and knowledge of design programs: https://www.behance.net/carlcordes. Thus, their solution is to pad their portfolio and network.

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joob    74

School definitely isn't necessary in all cases, but like mentioned above, it can help a lot (especially in areas like design thinking, design management etc, like @JESSEDIEBOLT said). Degrees, diplomas, certificates etc can add to credibility and expertise. You already freelance and are the head designer of a wrestling company, which is great. School might not seem like the good choice if you feel like you are already working professionally. If you were to go to school for design I think the best option would be a 2-3 year design diploma program, it's not too long but may prove to be a valuable experience. Though if you're not too happy with the whole 2-3 year school thing, it's not a big deal. I wouldn't want to spend more then 4 years in school since you mentioned you studied business/marketing. 

 

I'd say your portfolio is the most important thing, not a degree. But going to school can really benefit your portfolio, so it's sort of a dilemma. From experience, going to school for the past 3 years for graphic design has been very helpful, I can say I've learned a lot and added quality stuff to my portfolio via schoolwork. For me, school was worth it. I got 3 years to build my portfolio, learn design and an internship. I think there's a lot of things in design that you can only learn in school. But there is really great accessible content out there that provides a good amount of design knowledge. Places like YouTube, Skillshare, Lynda etc are valuable assets, some of which I've used during my schooling. 

 

Taking a general design program like Graphic Design definitely keeps your doors open for different opportunities, because generally speaking (depending on the course/program curriculum), you learn and work in digital + print. So you explore things like web, colour printing, motion etc. It get's your feet wet into all different areas if you don't know what specific design field you want to get into. 

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raysox    1,213

Thirded from me. FSU canceled their graphics program when I was going up there, but I was set to go to school there.  Majored in Geography and Sport Management while I was there, worked on design, and built up my resume. I've interviewed with the USL, FC Dallas, and the Buccaneers before getting this Rays internship.

 

I think the best thing to stand out is a resume. I never got called once with a normal word resume. Spent a little time designing a nice resume, and haven't not atleast had an interview in the jobs I've applied to.

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oddball    162
On 3/16/2017 at 9:54 AM, PaleVermilion81 said:

 

The point I was making about degrees is people get so focused on getting all of this formal education in a field where formal education doesn't matter for the most part. It doesn't matter how much schooling you had or whether your degree is a 2 year degree, 4 year degree, or if you even graduated college with a degree. Basically it doesn't matter how you obtained the knowledge. What matters is that you have the knowledge. That is what I mean by degrees don't matter. Other fields the degree matters and you need a masters, Ph.D, etc. to even legally work in that field. Graphic design there is no requirement other than having the ability to do the job. When you start applying for jobs as a designer they don't look at your schooling, they look at your portfolio and experience. It's why so many job listings say things like "4 year degree or equivalent experience". Obtain the knowledge however you need to, whether that is by getting a degree or being self taught. 

 

So with that, keep in mind that my answer was a specific answer to this person's specific case. They are already highly educated, and are already doing graphic design work in the field. In no way would going to school for a graphic design degree help them. They'd waste so much time and money on getting something that realistically wouldn't open any more doors. They have education. They have design experience and their Behance shows they have ability and knowledge of design programs: https://www.behance.net/carlcordes. Thus, their solution is to pad their portfolio and network.

 

Here's the thing that you are missing, unless you are straight out amazing... if you don't have a college degree most people won't even look at you. I know this from personal experience. So go to college refine your skill, get advice from not only your graphic teachers, but your other teachers on on how to make it in the real world and save yourself some unneeded headaches trying to figure this stuff out. As a designer, I get the idea that you don't "need" a degree, but honestly you do. This isn't the 70's or 80's, where you could just learn the stuff without formal education and start small and work your way up. Most employers are not even going to even look at you, unless that resume has a degree on it. They have their HR people look at the resumes and trash the ones that don't have a degree. The people hiring, don't have time to look at your work, unless it's been filtered by someone. I get the fact that there are people who don't have a degree and made it work, but these days, even in the design world, it's rare for someone new to get into the business somehow without a degree... and that's business of any kind. While school teaches you maybe 5% of what you need to know for a job, experience is the other 95%, that degree gets you in the door for an interview. That's why you go to school for a graphic degree.

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6 hours ago, oddball said:

 

Here's the thing that you are missing, unless you are straight out amazing... if you don't have a college degree most people won't even look at you. I know this from personal experience. So go to college refine your skill, get advice from not only your graphic teachers, but your other teachers on on how to make it in the real world and save yourself some unneeded headaches trying to figure this stuff out. As a designer, I get the idea that you don't "need" a degree, but honestly you do. This isn't the 70's or 80's, where you could just learn the stuff without formal education and start small and work your way up. Most employers are not even going to even look at you, unless that resume has a degree on it. They have their HR people look at the resumes and trash the ones that don't have a degree. The people hiring, don't have time to look at your work, unless it's been filtered by someone. I get the fact that there are people who don't have a degree and made it work, but these days, even in the design world, it's rare for someone new to get into the business somehow without a degree... and that's business of any kind. While school teaches you maybe 5% of what you need to know for a job, experience is the other 95%, that degree gets you in the door for an interview. That's why you go to school for a graphic degree.

 

Again, look at my specific advise for this specific case. This person is already HIGHLY educated and is already doing graphic design work with proven design ability. Thus, my advice to them is to not worry about getting another college degree. 

 

Also, I'm not saying don't go to college period. It is all 100% situation dependent. If you look at my initial post, I do address applying at larger corporations (ie. places that have HR people) and say specifically that for those places you do need a degree. And even in those cases, you don't need a DESIGN degree (which again is what the originally question was about). I'm not saying don't be educated or don't get a degree. Everything is case specific to the person asking, "What should I do?" IF you have the skills and portfolio and experience, then you don't need a degree. I'm not saying that nobody ever needs a degree. As I keep saying, it is a specific answer to a specific person. 

 

There is no broad sweeping answer that is true to all people in all situations here. I'm saying to look at each situation individually and answer the "Do I need a degree?" question based upon their details. If somebody asks if they need a degree and you simply say "YES!" without knowing their details, you can easily do more harm than good. You guys/gals seem to think I'm saying that nobody anywhere should ever get a degree of any kind and education isn't needed. I say specifically to obtain knowledge however you need to. If that is by getting a degree, then by all means get a degree. If you already have a masters in business, are doing freelance design, and have life experience in business and practical life skills of working with others, etc., don't waste 2-4 years getting another degree. You may only need to take a couple classes to learn some specific designing skills.

 

TL:DR = the answer to the "do I need a design degree" is 100% situation dependent. Look at skillset/resume of the person asking the question, and then give your answer. 

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BrandMooreArt    1,518

there are many variables that go into "needing" a degree. many job descriptions will request candidates to have a degree, but that doesn't mean they won't hire people without. the only times i can recall anyone even inquiring about my education is when they heard of the school i went to and asked if i enjoyed it or what it was like. your portfolio, experience, and connections are far more important. 

 

C-S, with where you are now, i dont think you need a formal education.  i think you're on the right track already and when looking to expand your knowledge/skills at this point, i would recommend buying a few books and a subscription to Lynda.com. and get your Behance portfolio in shape– it's critical. 

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McCarthy    6,885

The head Creative Director at the agency I worked for told me "I'd hire someone from the methadone clinic if they had talent". 

 

I work in a creative field and I have a marketing degree. I have no formal training outside of some elective classes I took in college to learn softwares. My counterpart went to 6 years of design school at Columbus College of Art and Design and the School of Art at the University of Cincinnati. We have the same job. Would art school have been the better move? Maybe or maybe not, but I like being able to say I have 10 years experience in the design field with an understanding of the business world. 

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