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School or no school
Swannybc




msg:3530755
 12:42 am on Dec 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hi,

I have a question to put out there. Do you think that a web-designer needs a post-secondary education to get work doing web-design.

I'm a self-taught amature web-designer. I have had no problem teaching myself html, css, Photoshop and Dreamweaver through books and tutorials. But now I am thinking about trying to earn an income from web-design, instead of just doing sites for free for friends.

I noticed from looking at job postings that every one of them seems to be asking for a minumum web-design certificate or equivalent post-secondary. I have a Bsc. in economics that is both over a decade old and not even closely relevent (the web hardly existed when I was in university).

In British Columbia, Canada, where I live, the two web-design certification programs I could find cost $6500. The course outlines appear to offer little more than what I already know (ie. html, css, Photoshop, Dreamweaver). So I am looking at paying a king's ransom in tuition and living expenses for 2 years to just get a piece of paper.

An aquaintance who works in web-design for a company in Vancouver told me at a party that I am crazy to pay all that money. He said he is self-taught and that a lot of designers out there are self-taught as well and earning good money (though he didn't offer me a job which may say something).

So what do people think? Pay the money and get the education? Should I just shop around a portfolio of the web-sites I have done and hope the education is overlooked? Would an "uneducated" designer be better off doing free-lance work?

Very interested in peoples ideas.

Thanks.

 

briggidere




msg:3530759
 12:46 am on Dec 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

I would look at someones previous work before thinking about what qualifications they have.

Experience can win hands down over pieces of paper a lot of the time.

If they ask for certification in the job listing, just apply and give them samples of your work and see what happens.

King_Fisher




msg:3530783
 1:18 am on Dec 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Its what you CAN DO, not what you have LEARNED!

Put a portfolio together and make the rounds. If you have any talent you will land a job!...KF

lavazza




msg:3530786
 1:30 am on Dec 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

An aquaintance who works in web-design for a company in Vancouver told me at a party that I am crazy to pay all that money

Rightly so

I think that your BSc proves one thing: you have the abiliy and tenacity to learn to the level of a specialist

I dunno about BC, but in my corner of the whilred there is a surplus of know-it-alls (those who know absolutely everything about sweet-#$%&-all) and a dearth of specialists

If you WANT to extend your skill set, supplement what you know already with a course (or similar) on human/computer interface design, programming, database design, etc etc... the list is as long as piece of elastic

Jane_Doe




msg:3530791
 1:39 am on Dec 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Do they have something where you live that is like a low cost, public junior college? That is where I took classes after my kids started school in order to update my computer skills to the Internet era.

watermac77




msg:3531597
 12:56 am on Dec 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think the best way to prove your skills is to do just that - prove it! I have an Associates degree in Visual Communications (2 yr. community college) but have worked in top design firms and marketing in my area right out of college. I have learned it is the portfolio that matters. I have taught myself most of what I know and have learned a lot from other designers, both print and web, much more than I would have if I went to 4 years of design school.

BUT... there is something to be said for an education. Depending on what area you eventually want to go, it is a good idea to get an education behind you. It is not the design skills I am talking about, but the knowhow of how to deal with certain situations, personality types, problem diagnosis, etc. These sorts of things you will learn in your lifetime, but it is not something you can really pick up on your own very quickly - like you would with proper education. Learning from people who are experts in the field you want to be in is important.

It all boils down to what your goals are. Do you want to just be a backend site builder for the rest of your life? Do you want to manage a team? What do you want to do in the future? What skills would you like to learn? What skills do you NEED to learn? Being marketable as a person with certain skillsets is the key to being hired by a great company or doing business for yourself. It is not just the technical skills that will get you where you want to go, trust me! What you learn today about technology will be obsolete in 2 years or less! So look at long term goals and assess it from that standpoint.

watermac77




msg:3531601
 1:03 am on Dec 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

On a side note, I just completed my Bachelor's so I do advocate getting an education in addition to experience. They go hand-in-hand. And just FYI: I am not sure how long you have been using Dreamweaver and Photoshop, but it would take several years of using these programs on a daily, 8 hour-a-day, basis to become an expert at them. I use them daily and don't consider myself an expert. There is so much more to them than meets the eye. Look into a program that will teach in-depth on these (as well as CSS and HTML). Adobe offers great seminars and classes that are reasonable priced (not $6000!) and this looks good on a resume as well. And if at all possible, get into a company with an entry level position in web design, preferably with a staff of web people. You can learn much more by being hands on with other knowledgeable and skilled designers than in a classroom setting. Then, once you have experience get your employer to pay for those classes!

justgowithit




msg:3532049
 4:11 pm on Dec 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm self taught through books and experience. I found that adding a portfolio and.... believe it or.... a "Textbooks" section to my resume helped tremendously.

The portfolio section is self-explanatory - simply consisting of my programming & design work.

The Textbooks section is a list of the various books and texts that I've read (and reference) to get myself to where I am.

Many employers find self-taught individuals to be appealing for the fact that they are already proven self-motivators to have gotten to where they are.

novustek




msg:3532070
 4:31 pm on Dec 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Back when i was youngster there were no such programs. i trained as a techie all my web skills were self taught. i cant see why you would need to have a qualification in web design these days.

Concentrate of building a good portfolio is the best advise i can give. In this industry we tend to live an die on our last piece of work.

I was recently looking for a new job the 1st question every employer asked was : what was the last project you worked on.

shigamoto




msg:3532676
 10:44 am on Dec 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

There are several options here, I think. Do you think certification or education will help you grow as a web developer or as a person? If not then don't do it.

If you plan long-term, in five years your education might matter more than it does today. Also if you are going to start a business centered around web-design it might be worth having other skills too.

As posters mentioned earlier a portfolio still feels like the way to go. But consider if you can give your customers more by knowing some marketing, e-commerce and so on.

Wonderstuff




msg:3532737
 1:29 pm on Dec 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

Often, a degree could be table-stakes to get an interview at large corporates.

If you are paying top-dollar and want to develop and retain staff, many large companies would begin by asking for a degree in computing or math.

Horses for courses!

cazgh




msg:3532755
 2:10 pm on Dec 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

In most cases I am told that companies do not expect to tick every box that they specify on their job advertisements but to tick a few stands you in good stead, as long as you have the key skills they are looking for.

Your qualifications show you have the ability to learn which stands you in good stead.

Put a portfolio together of what you have achieved and look for jobs asking for the skills that you have. If you know that you can do the job that is asked of you this will come across in your interview and you will be able to answer any questions you are asked by your prospective employer.

Why not give it a go and put yourself out there. You may be pleasantly surprised at how far you have come and how easy it is for you to get the job you want. Alternatively if you seem to be struggling you can think about spending the money on investing in the specific qualifications you think you need.

I think experience counts for an awful lot - most employers just want a willing member of the team who can do the job required and show initiative. Its sounds to me that you have a good chance without needing the peice of paper.

piatkow




msg:3538495
 8:51 pm on Jan 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

When I first went into IT in mainframe days, most people I worked with went in from secondary school, spent 2 years as tape jockeys on night shift then were trained in programming by the company. I have never come across anybody with an IT degree as skilled as those guys.

Western




msg:3538498
 9:14 pm on Jan 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Why not give it a go and put yourself out there. You may be pleasantly surprised at how far you have come and how easy it is for you to get the job you want. Alternatively if you seem to be struggling you can think about spending the money on investing in the specific qualifications you think you need.

I think experience counts for an awful lot - most employers just want a willing member of the team who can do the job required and show initiative. Its sounds to me that you have a good chance without needing the peice of paper.

I agree. And sometimes the best places to work for value initiative more than a piece of paper. In fact I know some employers who are suspicious of a degree without a real-world portfolio.

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