Do I need a degree to be a graphic designer? If you’re asking yourself that question, my assumption is that you’re somewhat new to the design industry – as this is probably one of the most common question I hear newer designers ask or those interested in entering the field.
The short answer is no. There you go, no TLDR, no beating about the bush. The cold hard fact is that you don’t need a degree to declare that you’re a graphic designer. Much like many other digital and creative jobs, you just don’t need a degree. Does that mean that the industry is full to the brim with amatures and inexperienced designers? I don’t think so. It does however have one major factor that many other industries which typically require a degree don’t always suffer from, and that’s the barrier to entry being so low. Since there’s at least a handful of creative professions which don’t require a formal education and typically a degree, then the barrier to enter that professional space is generally much lower than say, one of litigation or the healthcare industry. There’s absolutely pros and cons to this, so I’ll elaborate.
First and foremost, I want to clear the air here… Though the barrier to entry may be lower than other professions, like any professional business, expert professionals stand out. The creative professional typically stands out for their thought leadership, expertise and presence, along with their work. The ones that aren’t really “in it” and are just pretending, or in the process of starting will typically fall to the wayside.
So let’s break this question down. Do you need a degree in graphic design? I firmly believe that you don’t. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, your background etc… Sure there’s absolutely some benefits to attending college, just one of those benefits is the potential for job placement once you finish your degree. You might be the kind of individual that finds major comfort and ease in learning in an academic format. As humans, we’re all different, and we all learn and retain things differently. I personally learn best by doing, with or without instruction.