Survey reveals the most common educational background of graphic designers

Those hoping to find a career in the graphic design industry may be wondering just how to go about it. After all, there are plenty of different avenues, some of them favouring a more self-taught approach, and others the clear-cut path of a university degree in your chosen field. However, while all pathways are viable, the most common and proven ones should be of particular interest to design hopefuls.

Do they go to university?

Belfast-based printing company surveyed 640 designers, of which 66% were employed by an agency or in-house team and 33% were freelance, in the pursuit of finding out just how most graphic designers in the industry today got to be where they are.  The results of this survey revealed that the vast majority of graphic designers had achieved a third level qualification. In fact, of those who attended third level education, 65% attended university. 24% studied at a technical college, and the “other” 11% included apprenticeships and art colleges.

What subjects are studied?

Naturally, 41% of those who have a third level qualification studied Graphic Design, but there were other, less obvious subjects included. 23% studied Communications, including Visual and Media Communications, and 7% studied illustration. 6% had degrees in Art, many Fine Art, and the remaining 23% of graphic designers had studied a range of subjects, from English with Creative Writing and Journalism to Typography and Marketing. 

Designer David Airey said, “Work on being an interesting person. There are a lot of ways to do that, and they all come back to one thing — your curiosity. The more you understand yourself, others, and the world around us, the more likely it will become that people are willing to bring new opportunities your way.”

“The work put into it”

Alex Donne-Johnson from Dazzleship took the conversation further and said, “I think we need to have more discussions around what we are teaching and why. Most modern UK universities aren’t equipped for today’s landscape in design, things are moving fast and changing all the time. I think there should be a bigger emphasis on problem solving and leadership skills.”

Perhaps the most important aspect of these findings is that those who become graphic designers are those who invest deeply in their craft, as pointed out by graphic designer Joshua Noom said.

He said of the findings, “When it comes to the education of graphic designers, or any profession for that matter, whether it’s university, technical school, or on your own watching tutorials, the results all depend on the work put into it.”

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