For a career in graphic design, the best route to take is either an associate or bachelor’s degree. The vast majority of employers will demand a degree. Obviously, a bachelor’s degree will get you further. Graphic design is a highly competitive field, and many, many people out there want to get in, all of whom have degrees. To keep up, to even get in the running at all, the only way is to have a degree of your own.
Graphic design is a rich art form that entails several years of study and practice to ever master, or even ever become “good enough.” It involves several branches, such as typography, layout, and color theory, and each of them counts as its own discipline with its own set of principles to understand and develop. This could be done on your own, sure, but clearly, the help of experienced professors and fellow students will quicken the learning process exponentially.
Regardless, most employers wouldn’t hire someone without a degree anyway, no matter how naturally talented. That’s because a lot more goes into the graphic design industry than simply artistic talent and skill alone. There’s a lot to learn about printing, paper, color, resolution, and technology. While a strong portfolio might demonstrate a facility for art, it’d do no good in demonstrating knowledge of all the various technical matters that go into the business, the “job” side of graphic design. Only a degree would ensure a potential employer that you know these things, and can work well with them.
Furthermore, a liberal arts degree with a graphic design major provides benefits that a person who doesn’t attend college could never enjoy. As such an integral part of advertising and marketing, graphic design draws a lot on psychology, sociology, philosophy, and a whole host of other subjects. One trained and educated in those subjects will have a better grasp on the aims and methods of graphic design. Employers know this.
Beyond mere technicalities and subject matter, however, there is a lot to be said for a degree in terms of building several skills vital to a successful career in graphic design. Creativity is one example. Creativity takes time, feedback, and focus to develop and strengthen. To be in school, to have time set aside every day for specifically that, is what will allow that creative growth to happen. Obviously, the longer-term bachelor’s degree would allow more development than the associate degree – which employers know as well.
Someone interested in a graphic design career should most certainly get their bachelor degree. Most colleges and universities across the country offer the program. At the very least, it ensures potential employers that you have the passion, drive, persistence and commitment to do well and to get the job done. Though you may hear stories of people who have gotten into the graphic design field without degrees, they are few and far between, so rare as to not even count.
Want to design for a living? Get your bachelor degree in graphic design.