Is a graphic design degree really worth it? Many have asked this question in the past and continue to ask this question even today. The economic outlook isn’t great and while tuition costs continue to rise, unemployment doesn’t seem to be improving a whole lot lately – despite what the people on the news keep telling you.
Graphic design, for most people, usually starts with a deep passion or interest in visual arts. This can happen at any stage of life, for a true designer. If this certainly the job you’ll love, the only question left to answer is will it be worth it? Will it pay the bills? Will I be able to easily find success in the industry and make the big bucks?
You could test your luck with just the talent, passion, and skill. However, if you’re high-spirited about becoming a hit in the industry, you will need a degree to back-up that passion of yours.
Why Pursue a Graphic Design Degree?
Without a doubt, a full-fledged degree increases your number of options in the job market. Many employers require applicants to have at least an undergraduate qualification to fulfill the requirements of the application. Unfortunately, such filtering techniques often leave out even the best of talents aside because they have failed to complete the job application requirement.
If you’re interested in applying to an Arts profession (such as graphics, advertising, web development, etc) a portfolio, some experience, and a degree to back it up will certainly make you a credible and competent, prospective employee.
Also, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and their Occupational Outlook Handbook, the minimum entry-level education for an applicant is a bachelor’s degree and the median pay is $44,150 per year. For that pay it’s pretty obvious you need to ask the question: are you adequately qualified for the job? If you have a bachelor’s degree, then the answer is yes!
The Catch: Where there are benefits, there are certainly a few cons present as well. On the subject of obtaining a graphic design degree, here are a few cons:
- Design degrees are expensive: The annual tuition fee including expenses for most private, non-profit colleges is $35,000 according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Tuition costs continue to rise with time. A student loan may increase overall student debt which is currently above $1 trillion in the US.
- Courses can be very intense: Design courses require a lot of hard work and continuous hours of undivided attention to projects and assignments. Like any other creative field, the graphic design field requires a lot of patience and stress tolerance. This will be taught specifically during college.
- Degree Completion doesn’t come easily: Graphic design degree completion will require challenging final projects such as a dissertation that needs to be submitted. And, it could keep you from completing the degree program. However, this task could easily be subdued with the help of Dissertation Avenue, which will help you in completing your dissertation on time and acquiring the degree.
If money isn’t an issue, you have people to help you, and you’re up for the challenge, the con’s may be overlooked and that’s where the pro’s come in:
- Theoretical knowledge Sets the Base: Theoretical knowledge should never be underestimated. Very often, theoretical knowledge is overlooked and thought too little of because real-life experiences are quite different.
However, without conceptual information that fully encompasses the field, a prospective employee will fail to understand some key concepts and be forced on learning them “the hard way”. Conceptual knowledge includes history, techniques, methods, practices, and much more that expand a student’s realm of knowledge in the particular area of interest.
For graphic designers, there is so much to learn about common practices, human psychology such as which particular design influence human behavior in which ways, and so much more that can be fully understood and learned in a college education before being practiced in the design world through mere experimentation.
- Creates a Competitive Edge: Few designers actually opt for a design degree before they enter the field. Their interest and subsequent experience is what drives them towards the profession. Acquiring a degree will build a competitive edge to your designer’s profile and convince employers about your true interest in the field from the start. Even if you plan on applying for the design degree at a later stage, your commitment to evolve in the field will be demonstrated with the help of a degree.
- It’s Worth Impressing Clients: You may have the talent, the required set of skills, and maybe an amazing portfolio, but when a client asks for your credentials, you might only have high-school education or a degree in an irrelevant field to show to your client. That could lose you a high-profile client to another competitor who possesses a degree and a strong portfolio to display.
- Greater Earnings: An additional qualification can go a long way in increasing the earnings. A boost in the annual salary often requires a higher level of education. This will set the competitive edge and enable the designer to justify a salary boost. According to a study conducted by Georgetown University, bachelor’s degree holders earn $1 million more during their lifetime than do non-degree holders.
A Final Answer to the Main Question:
After careful observation of the facts above, the answer to the initial question should be pretty clear. Is a graphic design degree worthwhile? Yes, it definitely is!
It may not be required in all cases and you might get success in the field even without it. However, a little time, money, and a deep sense of motivation invested in a formal education has undeniable benefits. If you really are interested in making graphic design a long-lasting and promising career, a graphic design degree will certainly set the stage for a barrier-less advancements.
In the end, justifiable higher earnings that are, in the long-term, far more than what you have invested in your program certainly won’t hurt your happiness.