Do you need a Design Degree to be a Graphic Designer?

So can you become an experienced designer without going to Uni and no degree? Yes, yes you can.

Before I get into it I do just want to say that everyone's journey will be completely different and there is no wrong and right answer in how to get into this sort of industry, this is just my journey! So sit back, get your popcorn and let’s dive into it..

So let's start with my journey of how i transitioned into becoming a graphic designer. I've always been into art and creative subject, so my top grades were all in the creative field. After school I went and did A levels at a college and once again the creative subjects ( fine art and graphic design) were where I got the best results and i were the subjects i put everything into because i enjoyed them way too much.

I finished A Levels and just knew I did not want to go to Uni, I didn’t want to be in debt especially if I wasn’t sure on what I actually wanted to do with my life. So I needed to try and get a job in the creative field. I wasn’t confident enough to start my own business because I was still very young with no experience, so knew i needed to get a job of some sort. Luckily apprenticeship as a graphic designer for a local attraction came up and I spent ages creating a website to show my portfolio to try and impress them. I got the job and learnt the basics of design off of my boss at that time. The best way to learn (being chucked in the deep end). So if you can try and get some work experience at an agency or business with a design department then do it.

After 9 months a job opportunity came up for a big local holiday park as a junior graphic designer and I went for it. I ended up working at this business for 4 whole years, where I learnt everything. I learnt off of a creative team and these were the years where i learnt what a graphic designer does. I learnt everything like, printing, materials, design, guides, website development and so much more.

Around 3 years in is where I built the confidence to set up my own business to make some money on the side. I used to create illustrations as I found myself not wanting to do in depth design work after doing it all day. I’d work in the morning and evenings before my 9-5 job. It was great because I could make mistakes in my current job and it wouldn’t matter as much as it did for my own business.

Things started to pick up in 2020 and I found myself working ridiculous hours. That’s when the pandemic hit…such worrying times. Luckily I got furloughed from my 9-5 job and this is where I had to make the decision which would affect the next few years for me. My little side hobby could turn into something amazing. I worked endless hours on creating my own projects for my portfolio, posted everyday on instagram and tried to gain clients. Fast forward to now I quit my job and am now a full time graphic designer booking out in months in advance without ever going to university and getting a degree.

So what does this show? That yes it is completely possible to become a graphic designer without a degree. BUT what you need is passion, commitment, design ability, determination and an open mind. Without being so passionate about design i definitely wouldn't be in the position i am today.

My tips for getting into the creative industry:

  1. Try and get some experience working in the creative field, even if it’s for free. That experience will teach you a lot.

  2. Learning. Keep on learning, keep on designing and make mistakes. Take courses and do different projects where you can keep learning new things. Even if you are an experienced designer, keep on learning.

  3. Portfolio - Make sure you have a strong portfolio that represents who you are as a designer. The stronger the portfolio there better chance of getting that client or new job.

  4. Have the confidence to back yourself. Just because you don;t have a degree shouldn't mean you are less than someone that does. Have confidence and do you.

Remember we all will take different routes to get to where we want to be, there is no wrong and right answer, just do what works for you.