What should you do make sure you will have the design career you are hoping for? Basically, learning the skills discussed in this article will help you achieve that goal. Where you decide to learn them is another challenge.
One of the particularities of this domain is how varied the study programs are. They vary in terms of their length, their curriculum, the diploma they provide, the quality of their internships and so on. There is absolutely no standard when it comes to providing training in design.
Design programs are not easy to evaluate from a student point of view and it is very hard to be confident that the studies you go through will allow you to get the career you wish. In this field, a lot of the best young designers don’t even take formal classes and yet they succeed.
Self-learning is an acceptable alternative to design school. As this is an industry where everything moves quite quickly, curriculum and teachers from formal programs are not always in touch with the latest and trendy areas of design, and where the jobs will be. An advantage of being a self taught designer is you can focus on those areas.
All the different design programs provide a lot of graduates in a market where there are not that many contracts available. Short programs often produce students that are not ready for professional work because they lack the required experience. The companies that want to hire a designer are lost in the swarm of designers of unequal competencies available. Even with a portfolio, it is hard to determine who is a good designer that can fulfill their specific needs and who is not.
A lot of design programs accept pretty much anyone that is willing to pay the fees they charge, which creates another problem. Just like surgeons need some basic fine motor skills before they even start studying in order to develop their abilities at a great level, not everyone can be a designer. Anyone can go to school and learn the technical skills, but only those with an inner sense of design will truly be able to create great work.
Most design programs also have a strong weakness when it comes to giving real experience to their students. A homework, where the student can use his own personal tastes on many levels, cannot provide an experience that is real enough to ensure that the student will then be able to answer his clients’ needs.
In order to truly learn designing, everyone needs to live a real experience: real clients, with their specifications and their peculiar requests and providing real feedback. Some schools have internships, which is a good starting point for students that find a great learning environment.
An employable designer needs to have some basics skills that are not necessarily taught in school. He should be able to express his ideas properly and clearly to a client, so that the client can understand the concept that is being shown in order to choose if he likes it or not. That implies being able to use a pen to draw the main components of his idea while being able to actually design afterwards what has been drawn, as well as great communication skills.
A capable designer should be able to plan methodically and to think critically. In order to respect the deadline while having a truly finished project, a designer needs to have planning skills that will include enough time to solve problems he might encounter and any unforeseen event. Strategic thinking is what will allow the designer to deliver a solid project based on logic rather than something purely based on his personal preferences.
A good designer is able to build a strategy for the project, based on design basics, knowledge from his experience and industry standards. Then, he needs to be able to turn his ideas into a conceptual development.
Acquiring the skill set mentioned is not an easy thing to do. Design is a profession where it is possible to learn by yourself but be aware that it does not imply that you have nothing to learn anymore once you are an established designer.
If you still think that schooling is the best option for you to become a designer and a fulfilling career in that field, I would suggest doing extended research on the various schools and programs available before deciding your best course of action. But remember, designing is a field were going to college is not a prerequisite to success. Getting a good job and career will be based mostly on your stills rather than your education.
A design school can certainly help you acquire some of the skills required to be a designer. However, you need to be truly passionate about design, whether you go to school or not and be ready to acquire new skills, or improve the ones that you already have, for the rest of your life. Another alternative to formal design school are online professional programs, which are more flexible in terms of schedule, so they might allow you to gain experience while you are learning.
If you decide that schooling is really the pathway for you, really spend time before deciding where you will go and don’t be fooled by the promises every school makes. Try to find the school that will truly help you achieve your goals; so know what it is you need to learn from formal schooling. Budget is also an important factor in deciding where you will perform your studies. If nothing really fulfill your needs, know that you always have the option of self-learning at least some of the skills that you will need.