Careers in design are often difficult to break into due to their more flexible prerequisites and open-ended career paths. Becoming a professional writer or wedding planner may seem like it’s as simple as printing a few business cards but the reality of drumming up clients and building a portfolio or personal brand can ultimately be both daunting and frustrating.
To help in with getting a foot in the door, most young professionals will supplement their personal talents and work experience with some kind of formal education. This may take on the form of a full-blown degree program, online education or a design certificate directly from a specialized course. Regardless of what the format of education is, it’s important for prospective design professionals to understand the pros and cons of formal education in design fields as well as the more nuanced tricks and tips to getting their career off the ground!
Types of Careers:
One of the first and most important things for prospective design students to assess is exactly what they want to do in their field of interest. Despite common misconceptions, there is a great deal of specialization and niche work to be done in every career field. Do you want to be a Wedding Planner or a Wedding Consultant? Do you want to manage vendors or design floral arrangements? Would you rather be creating visual concepts or commercial logos? Are you a fiction writer or a copywriter?
Within each field there are many potential “jobs” that take advantage of specific skills, talents and personal traits. Many students know what direction and broad career field they’re interested in entering and where their personal interests lie but they aren’t yet sure how to make that manifest directly into a tangible position.
For example, within the field of writing there are many different “jobs” available to talented and skilled workers. The difference in average pay between the average Copywriter working with advertising material and someone writing for a Directory or Newspaper is almost $10,000 a year. The credentials to work in these fields are also very different and the portfolio of someone working as a professional copywriter may not be acceptable for a journalist.
It’s also worth noting that positions within specialized fields are subject to unique growth forecasts. While all writing positions are currently forecast to grow at a rate of about 6% (slower than average) positions related to newspaper publishing are much more uncommon and positions related to digital publishing or advertising work may actually grow faster.
Another example of a field with a great deal of disparity is event planning. Professional planners who obtain niche work in planning business, political or labor events stand to earn a much higher salary and have better long-term career prospects than a planner working for a hotel or establishment.
For many hiring managers the top commodity is usually job experience and a professional resume or portfolio that displays proficiency, talent and ability. For an entry-level or new professional these resources may be in short supply and for those individuals the next best way to break into a new industry or career is through education. Being able to list a degree from a traditional institution or online education is a great way to illustrate a capable understanding and enthusiasm for the work you’re interested in.
When looking for education opportunities there are a variety of ways to obtain additional references and knowledge.
Design Certificates: Certificates are commonly given based on the completion of a course that denotes a specific proficiency. Some fields may require certification through an official program or authorized program before a professional may begin working in the field. In other fields certification courses may simply be used to show prospective employers that a candidate has a particular skill or knowledge set.
Degrees: For careers that require more traditional, long-term education with multiple classes, degree programs offer various tiers of programs that can open up a multitude of job opportunities. Whether pursuing a classroom or online degree the availability of two and four year programs makes a degree in a related subject one of the top choices for professionals looking to increase their employment opportunities.
Vocational Courses: For some specific fields where technical training or industry-specific knowledge is more important than conceptual theory, vocational courses offer more hands-on education that allows students to jump right in and begin developing job skills.