How to Become a Graphic Designer Without a Degree

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Are you an aspiring graphic designer? Getting your education in a design school is not the only route into the industry. It’s simply not in the cards for everyone. If you are interested to know how to become a graphic designer without a degree, then read this article. 

A graphic design degree in a good design school can definitely get you on the right track and the safest option to become a graphic designer. You will have a better understanding of the skills, theories and the right foundation relevant to getting a job. 

Fortunately, you can still work as a graphic designer without formal education, as long as you have the drive and dedication. Most junior graphic designers are hired because of their portfolio and experience, and not just because of qualifications. 

What does a graphic designer do?

A graphic designer uses a computer to create visual concepts using their hands or tools on a computer. They are visual storytellers and evoke emotions from the brand’s message that they are making. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the graphic designer’s median salary is $52,110 per year or $25.05 per hour. Most graphic designers work from home where they find a project using graphic design websites

1. Master the essential graphic design software or programs

If you are serious about being a graphic designer and want to earn more by having more clients, then it is a good choice that you start mastering a software or three. Here are the key software or programs that you will be expected to know.

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is one of the most common software applications a graphic designer uses. This software is extensively used for image editing, retouching, and creating artworks and illustrations. 

Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign is the software graphic designers use for multiple page documents containing text, images, or vector artwork. This software offers typesetting features to format text and images for posters, brochures, magazines, newspapers, books, presentations, and eBooks.

Adobe Illustrator

The Adobe Illustrator, a vector graphic software, is used by many designers to create everything from tiny favicon thumbnails to stunning web and mobile graphics, logos, icons, book illustrations, product packaging, and even large billboards.

2. Focus your attention on a specific niche or specialty

If you can’t or don’t prefer a graphic designer degree route, you can always focus your attention and establish yourself into a specific niche. Be an expert on your chosen niche and hone your skills and portfolio into a specific area of design.

For example, you may want to focus your attention on logo design. By becoming an expert in this area of graphic design, clients will already get a clear picture of what you do best. Niching is the best way to stand out as a graphic designer, build your portfolio, and win more clients.

3. Learn the principles and theories of design

Understanding the basic theories and principles of design will help you go a long way in becoming a graphic designer. With your drive and thorough research, you don’t need to enroll in a school for you to get all of the information about these theories and principles. 

It includes learning the vocabulary of graphic designers, graphic elements, and design principles. These are always used in every design project you work on. By applying these theories and principles in every graphic design work, you will never fail to develop a visually appealing design and structure to the viewers.

4. Enroll in graphic design online courses

You can read published articles online or YouTube videos on lessons about graphic design, theories, and principles. However, taking online courses will give you a more in-depth understanding of what graphic designing is. Here are our top graphic design online course recommendations.

Graphic Design Masterclass: Learn Great Design

In this online course, you will learn the design theory, how to create a logo and branding packages, and the basics of graphic design using Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign. 

Canva: Become A Graphic Designer In One Hour Or Less

Become a Canva expert and discover how to sell your images and make money in Canva with this online course. You will also learn how to create professional-looking and high-quality graphic designs, whether in print or online, in Canva.

Real World Graphic Design: Adobe Photoshop And Illustrator

If you are interested in learning graphic design and how to solve “real world” problems graphic designers face in clients’ requests, this online course is for you. You will learn how to use Photoshop and Illustrator software in your design business.

All the tutorials and demonstrations in this online course are easy to follow with complete step-by-step instructions with menu commands and keystroke shortcuts.

5. Get a freelance graphic designer job 

In order for you to gain more knowledge and hone your skills in graphic design, you must gain real work experience. If you are creative enough, you can find freelance opportunities at the early stage of your career as a graphic designer. 

There are a lot of graphic design websites where you can find freelance projects. You can gain experience and hone your skills while earning money. You will also have the chance to connect with people and develop your network. 

For starters, you can try finding short or small projects in Fiverr. You can read our article on how to become a top seller in Fiverr through this link.

6. Build your portfolio

One way to showcase your skills and knowledge to your potential clients or employers as a graphic designer is through your portfolio. A portfolio is usually what a client needs and wants to see in hiring a graphic designer because it proves your skills as a designer. 

A graphic design portfolio is a vital supplemental document of your resume. Your portfolio is supposed to be a repository of your work that showcases your very best designs. In other words, quality trumps quantity, so you need to exclude designs that you think won’t give that “wow” factor.

If you want to find inspiration and have an idea of how a graphic designer’s portfolio looks like, visit the article, “35 Best Graphic Design Portfolio Examples + Tips To Build Your Own” by clicking this link.

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