This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey.
I’m all for determined do-it-yourself careers. There is something almost awe inspiring about strapping on your boots and thrusting yourself into a competitive career with only your experiences and the world as your teacher. It really takes courage to take a passion and simply say, “I am going to do this for a living.”
We have software! Who needs skills?
Unfortunately, far too many aspiring designers get caught up in the dreamy ideals of do-it-yourself career building and try to throw themselves into the design world. They spend thousands of dollars on high-end design software and equipment, thinking that only these tools and their determination (and perhaps a little help from blogs and other internet educational resources) will allow them to stand toe to toe with the design giants of the internet.
Then you try your hand at designing. You hit a few brick walls. And then a few more brick walls. And soon you start to wonder, after having spent thousands of dollars on equipment, whether designing is really your innate passion or life skill. Trust me, it takes longer to come to this realization than the period in which you can return all your expensive gear at full price.
Why Education Is the Better Investment
Rather than spending all of your time and money on figuring out how to use your gear or even determining if design is right for you, I recommend putting that time and money into design education. This will help you in so many ways:
- Opens options, gives advice and direction
While there are a good number of online resources out there for designers, finding and knowing how to use them is another thing. Design courses will save you countless potential hours that you would have spent researching online. More importantly, design courses assure you that you’re researching something that would actually be helpful and practical to your design career.
- Networks you with other designers
An design educator is a valuable reference for finding work, especially straight after soon. Not to mention, you’ll be attending classes with plenty of other designers who could possibly use your skills for their own projects or network you with some of their previous clients.
- Finds you more design work
In addition to the networking, taking classes in design will also help you land design jobs, freelance or in a firm. Of course a degree will help you even further, but even just a few courses can go a long way.
- Helps you decide what equipment you need
It’s definitely possible to buy some design equipment or software that you ultimately don’t need. Design classes will give you an idea of which design tools are most effective for your design style.
- Qualifies you for discounts on equipment
You only need to be enrolled in a single class at a higher institution of learning to qualify for a great number of education discounts on both design software and hardware. Some discounts cut prices in half, which is huge for equipment ranging in the thousands of dollars. Do be careful of licensing restrictions as many do not allow you to work commercially.
- Qualifies you for work & Visas abroad
If you love traveling and have the income to support it, you can take design classes abroad with a student visa. Better yet, once you take enough courses to earn a degree, you can qualify for a work visa in countries such as the US, Japan, or the UK.
- Doesn’t have to break the bank
While you can spend a lot of money for an education in design, you don’t necessarily have to. You can take courses online or at a community college and still receive valuable information about the career. Not to mention you will still be eligible for educational discounts. Some countries are much cheaper than others so do your research to find out what’s best for you.
With all of these benefits, there is no excuse to at least take one or two design courses, so you can at least find out if your heart really is in the skill. If you find out that design is not your life’s calling, at least you didn’t waste any more time and money than you had to.
What’s your opinion on design education? Necessary? Recommended?
This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for BestCollegesOnline.com. She welcomes your comments below.