There had been questions and confusions for some people if a designer really needs to go to a design school or not. Some would give it a thumbs up but others won’t. We have seen stories of designers who have succeeded even without going to school but there are also stories of designers who reached success because of what they have learned in school. What is really the real score?

It actually varies from one person to another. Self-taught designers or those who prefer to learn the ropes of designing through tutorials and other design resources have also made their own big names in the design world. These are people who have the ability to understand things without the aid of another person. They can learn merely through what they read, what they watch and what they listen to. Also, these people already have the heart for designing and are gifted with talents. Well, we are not saying that those who go to school don’t have talents, of course they do! Only that they prefer to have more in depth and detailed discussions of the things they want to learn.

People who opt to go to school would like to grasp the essential foundation of knowledge about design. They want to start from the very foundation of it to ensure that they’ll be able to stand firmly. School is an amazing place. It is not just a place for learning but is also a place where one gets to meet new people, showcase more of his talents, establish a network, develop self-esteem and start to build a name for himself. Most of us went to school and we all know the good side of being there. We have enjoyed school (well, maybe except for the brain cracking exams and tons of projects and homework to do) and would consider it a vital key in molding you as a person.

But in the case of designing, is it really necessary to attend school for it? Can a school really help one to be a good designer when in fact most designers are self-taught? If so, is schooling important for designers? We will try to discuss this by looking at the two sides of it. We will give you the upside and downside of schooling. This could help you decide if you should go to school or not. This could also help you realize if schooling is really that important or not. At the end, we will let you know what you actually need in order to be a successful designer.

Upside of Schooling

Let us look into the advantages you will get from going to school. These are the things that will make you proud of being in school and would also aid you in your career. You will also be able to stand out from the rest because of the things you will gain from school. Here they are:

1. Have better chance of getting hired.

Have better chance of getting hired

When you have finished a degree in school, you have better chances of getting hired because clients and employers will look at you as well versed on the design field since you have studied about it. There are really people who prefer those who have graduated a design course thinking that they have went through a lot in order to reach the point of where they are today. Because of this, you will get more jobs and you will also have more earnings. People who finished schooling also tend to have higher rates because of the degree they finished.

2. Establish connections.

Establish connections

While you are in school, you’ll get to meet people from the industry even before you start working. That includes your professors who could be designers themselves and you can even meet the friends of your professors who are also designers. Aside from designers, you will also be given the chance to rub elbows with known people in various fields especially if they are invited by the school to deliver talks or merely to grace occasions. If you are active in your school activities and you are not ashamed to approach people, you will be able to establish your connection really well. The people you meet in school will be invaluable for your professional network and would be able to help you when you will get a job. Read about connections on How to Attain Better Networking for your Freelance Job.

3. Gives basic foundation for learning.

Gives basic foundation for learning

Essential things can be learned in detailed in school which includes html, css and javascript. You will also be able to have better understanding about it. Yes, you can learn this from online resources but you will surely be confused on some parts of it. You will also get more in depth know how on design theories from colors, type and other aspects of design. What you can learn can be useful for short time usage but not for long term. When you learn these things in school, you will be equipped with knowledge that can help you work well with websites and your designing.

4. Undergo trainings.

Undergo trainings

You will surely undergo different trainings in school. That includes your assignments in class and other workshops that you do in school. You will surely be given tasks to test your skills and knowledge. You will even be privileged to attend events and other seminars which can be worthwhile for your upcoming design career.

5. Get credentials.

Get credentials

This is one thing that you can get from school that you cannot get elsewhere. Oh, yes, you can get certificates from seminars that you attend but you cannot get a diploma merely by attending confabs. The diploma which could merely be a piece of paper with print is very much important and has high value. It is a proof that you were able to reach a certain level of professionalism and that you are already capable of doing tasks related to design. This also means that you have met the standards not just of your school but of the profession that you are aiming to get. Getting a diploma sets you apart from the rest of the designers which can be your greatest treasure when job hunting comes.

Downside of Schooling

After looking into the benefits of schooling, let us now take a look at the downside of it. Of course, there would always be another side of something. We will try to look at this with the perspective of those who have succeeded in designing merely by teaching themselves using online tutorials and resources.

1. Spend much.

Spend much

Everything you learn in school could be a lifetime knowledge that you can never be taken by anyone. But you are learning for a price. When you go to school, you really need to pay for your tuition, buy books and get many other school requirements. Everything you do in school is something you are actually paying for. You have to prepare your wallets for this.

2. Need to follow schedules.

Need to follow schedules

Unlike self teaching, you will not be able to control the time when you want to learn. In school, you follow schedules. You have to attend classes on a particular time specified by the school or sometimes you can choose your own schedule but that will still depend on the available time slot for a particular subject. You need to discipline yourself when it comes to time because if you won’t attend your classes, you will be like throwing away the money you have paid for it, you will miss important lessons which cannot be repeated (unlike video tutorials which you can replay anytime you want) and you will get failing grades. Here are Time Management Tips for Designers.

3. Rely on their pace of teaching.

Rely on their pace of teaching

Another downside of schooling is that you cannot control what lessons you want to take at a time. Also, you cannot control when you want to learn something when you feel like learning it. You will merely wait for that topic you are interested in to be discussed. You will also wait on how long your instructors would have to teach you at a certain point. Fast learners would scratch their heads because they want a new lesson after learning the first one. But you can’t do anything about it. You need to wait.

4. Tendency to stick on what you learn.

Tendency to stick on what you learn

There is really a chance that after school, you will merely stick on what you have learned from there. You will be using the techniques taught to you by your instructors and you might find it hard to adjust in the real world of designing because you got used to what you had been doing in school. Some would find it hard to adopt new techniques due to the limited teachings they got in school. But it actually depends on how your instructors will teach you. There are instructors who would advise you to master a few basic things for this is what you need in order to adopt changes. Like if you started using Adobe Photoshop CS2, you have to learn the basics so you can still work well even on an upgraded version.

5. Much pressure.

Much pressure

Well, you are in school. There are lessons that you need to study and you have to master them so that you will not flank exams. You also need to work on design projects not for clients yet but for completion of school requirements. You are obliged to do all that. So, submerge your mind in books and in your notes for some time because you need that to answer school exams and to get your diploma. And Oppss! One thing you need to remember, you cannot redo your answers during exams. So, you have to pass. The diploma is waiting for you. Handle the pressure.

Some designers who had been to school found their schooling beneficial for their career but some doesn’t. Well, maybe it also depends on the person and the school as well. So, now that you have seen both sides, you could weigh things if you would go to school or not.

Is Schooling Important for Designers?

Maybe yes because of the diploma you’ll get, the knowledge you’ll acquire, the network you’ll build and the higher chances of being hired.

Maybe no because you can learn designing by yourself like what most designers did who have succeeded in this field.

You’ll say “What???“ I know you were looking for concrete answers but no one knows the right answer but yourself. You know your capabilities and limitations which mean that you know what you need. You know if you need to enrol in a design school or not. But do you know what you actually need in order to succeed?

What You Really Need

Well, if you are still caught in between, you really don’t have to worry much about it because after all, there are five things that can actually bring you to success in your design career. These things are what you really need in order to get clients, learn what you need to learn, have good design outputs and eventually be successful.

1. Passion.


You will not be able to do something well if you do not have to passion for it. But if you have the heart in doing it, you will succeed no matter what. You can learn and be able to do it according to how you want to do it. You can even surpass your expectations if you have the passion. Your passion can bring you to the zenith of your dreams. It can move mountains and make the “impossible” possible for you. Grasp on that passion because you need it more than a diploma.

2. Determination.


Your passion should be paired with determination. When you love to do something, you will not reach your goal if you just keep on loving it and you won’t take action to get it. Determination will push you to do anything in order to succeed. This will move you to work really hard on something.

3. Commitment.


Having commitment to what you do seemingly ties you into it. It’s like you really would do everything in order to take hold of it no matter what it takes and no matter what happens. You are creating an obligation for yourself that attaches you to your goal. This can help you a lot to succeed in your career.

If you have these three things, you will find it easier to decide if you’ll get a diploma or resort to self teaching. And no matter which one you choose, you’ll never go wrong because with passion, determination and commitment combined, you can be successful. Of course, you need to add knowledge and experience to that which you will learn from school or from self-study.

It’s Your Turn Now

The success of a career doesn’t fully lie on how or where you get learning but it depends on how and where the person will use his learnings. It also depends on the person’s strong will to get to the top and work on his dreams. We hope that this article have given light to those who are confused if schooling is important for designers or not. We hope that the above points of comparison and the bonus requirements for success would help you. Now it’s your time to share your thoughts. We’d be glad to hear from you.

Kareen Liez

About the author: A Civil Engineer who has a construction business and a youth volunteer for a civic organization. She also contributes for a local newspaper due to her unwavering passion to write.


  1. Schooling is most important for me and it’s up to you on how you improve what you have learned from school.

  2. I think even you do not go to school but you have the ability to be a good designer,you will be a successful one.

  3. I love to read your articles,thanks for the information that I gathered here.

  4. Schooling is one of the stepping stone for success and through this we can meet different people were we can get different ideas about designs.

  5. Every time you post an article I’m always excited to read it because I know you will share another good ideas,information and so on…thanks a lot!

  6. That’s nice. I like this article 🙂
    I’m a self-taught graphic designer. I know how to work on Adobe Illustrator & Photosohp. I have been in this industry for more than two years and a half (or 3 years.) I joined this two year program to get certified officially from Adobe AND to have a better chance of getting hired by a good company. So that’s my hope. My program is called Graphic Design & Printing. Sometimes I dislike it, but then I remember my goal and why I joined this two-year program. Great job and good luck to everybody 🙂

Comments are closed.