Degree vs Self-Education
30 OCT 2018

Published by Kandice Menzie


Degree vs Self-Education

Do you think creatives need a degree behind them to back their credentials? Our Twitter followers certainly think so.

57% of our Twitter followers voted that it was “absolutely essential” to have a degree for a job within the creative industry.

Karina Beasley MD at Gabriele is also pro degree, saying "bottom line: Yes. For a designer it’s almost essential to have a degree or qualification, as employers use it to measure success and skill".

Our Creative Consultant Petra Jancso doesn’t think it’s the be-all -and-end -all but does believe having a qualification can certainly help creatives get further ahead faster.

Both feel that undertaking a degree is a plus as it teaches creatives the crucial foundations of design (technical and business), gives them access to otherwise eye-wateringly expensive software’s, and puts them face to face with potential employers - who may drop in for a guest lecture or attend final year exhibits specifically to head-hunt students - boosting their chances of employment after graduation.

However, according to Wyn Jones, creative director at Design Reality even if one does have a design degree, their level of skill is questionable due to an “extremely worrying difference in quality” amongst UK university courses.

A recent graduate employability survey from the BIDA showed that 11 universities across the UK were producing quality design graduates, but a further 45 universities offering courses were not.

Jones is calling for the British Industrial Design Association (BIDA) to introduce an “accreditation badge” for courses and lecturers as a “worryingly large” number of creatives are leaving university lacking the skills needed to gain employment within a very competitive industry.

So if a distrust for universities is seeping into the industry and more and more creatives are choosing to teach themselves to avoid rising tuition fees

Could a trend that sees talent prevailing over traditional qualifications be emerging?

Well over in tech its already begun. Google, Apple and IBM have all by dropped their requirement for university qualifications and are now placing a stronger emphasis on talent. In 2017 IBM’s Vice President of Talent Joanne Daley said that “instead of looking exclusively at candidates who went to college, IBM now looks at candidates who have hands-on experience via a coding boot camp or an industry-related vocational class”.

The growth of YouTube tutorials, and credible online courses means universities are no longer the only place skills can be acquired.

It is definitely possible to teach yourself a design speciality. If you have the raw talent that’s needed to pick up the necessary industry skills, and the self-discipline to do it outside of a formal institution, a degree may not be essential. But when it comes to finding work within the industry, it certainly helps, as without one proving your credentials to employers will be a lot more difficult.

But that’s where we come in; whether you’re a self-taught creative with lots of experience or a green graduate we have roles within top tier design agencies to suit both. Get in touch to discuss.

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