Hey everybody. I have a question. Right now I'm at the University of Houston trying to get my degree in Graphic Design, was thinking about switching to Digital Media because I dont know if I can handle a full-time job and block scheduling for graphic design. I should have been done with school a long time ago but I dropped out a long time ago to work full time and in the last two years I'm back in school because I'm married and I have two kids and my wife wants me to get a better job. One that might need a degree. I've had the same job working at a design firm since 2007 so I have a ton of experience and stuff. But going to school + work + babies is wearing me out.

I just want to know if anybody here has a really good job without having their degree. I'm wanting to start looking around but I havent looked for a job in forever and I wanted to know if there is hope for someone without a degree to get a good design job. I probably have enough credits to graduate with an associates from Houston Community College but is that even worth anything anymore? If I stayed at University of houston,I would probably still have two years left because I can only take 3 classes at a time or I could finish HCC in a semester and get an associates or I could just quit school and see if there's something out there that doesnt need a degree. I know this is a heavy question but anything you guys say will help big time
  • cmeyers

    i've worked as a full time designer at hurley, urban decay cosmetics, and now element, and never took a single design class in my life.
  • William Henry

    If you've had a full time job at a design firm since 2007, then I'd say you don't need a degree to find another job. A degree certainly doesn't hurt, but its more about your experience and portfolio than a piece of paper that says you completed school.
  • Matt Borchert

    Well, as you say it couldn't hurt you, but I don't think it will be a huge help to you either.

    I can't really think of any design jobs that "need" a degree, just hiring managers that prefer people who have one.

    If you're intent on staying in school I would focus on something that isn't specifically graphic design, but instead is something that will be highly useful for you in your career. Business, marketing, psychology, accounting/finance etc etc.
  • kevinsylvia

    I've been freelancing pretty successfully for years now, and just started a pretty decent job doing government bullshit. Never took any classes.
  • bleet

    If its designers looking for designers, then the only wholly grail is your portfolio. And I'm sure yours will speak for itself. Best thing is get your portfolio up to the standard that you are confident with, then look into approaching companies, brands etc.
    Goodluck!
  • bleet

    cmeyers said:i've worked as a full time designer at hurley, urban decay cosmetics, and now element, and never took a single design class in my life.

    jealous...epic companies
  • Tom Philibeck

    I work for the Sports-Licensed Division of the Adidas Group and one of my co-workers is self-taught. He doesn't even have an associates or anything. He's the only one in our group without a degree, but if you have the chops, you may get hired even at somewhere that says they require one.
  • 5thGM

    I got my degree in design just to say i did it, but had already been working in the field for agencies and my personal company for years prior. You absolutely DON'T need it. Let your work speak for itself.
  • Obscure

    I got a first in my graphic design degree and thought i would be a step above everyone else..... I did walk into a design job out of uni in design but i hated it and after a year started working for myself.

    I HAVE NEVER BEEN ASKED TO SEE MY DEGREE.... and never will.

    Experience of paperwork every time.
  • Geoff May

    Skills and design sensibilities>college degree
  • PitchGrim

    I do all the apparel/soft goods for Santa Cruz Skateboards full time including custom knits, hats/bags/accessories etc. as well as a good bit of the hard goods, skate graphics and I have never taken a design class nor have a degree. I am not saying a degree will not help you but as Geoff said, Skills and design sensibilities outweigh a degree because it is what you are being hired for after all.
  • mhooper

    I'm the creative director for a collegiate retailer north of Houston in College Station. About half of my employees have had degrees in design, but most of the time I hire strictly off of portfolio and how they'll gel with the team.
  • cityhall

    You guys are fucking amazing. I know I have to make the decision myself but everything you guys are saying here is above and beyond what I was looking for. I'm lucky enough that I havent had to search for a job in years but it makes it hard to know what to expect when I throw my hat in the ring. You guys just gave me a huge boost in confidence and I feel a lot less stressed about trying to look for a job without a degree. Also I am so freaking jealous of all of the awesome jobs you all have.
  • cityhall

    Also thanks for putting up with my original post. I just re-read it and it sounds like a manic child talking
  • Jason Carne

    I've had a few really good offers for positions with high starting salaries at American Eagle, Old Navy, and Rockstar Games - none of which asked even once if I had a degree.

    The only companies asking about your degree in design are the ones who know nothing about design. Your work will speak for itself and open doors for you.
  • Matt Borchert

    Just don't sell yourself short, it's something that a ton of designers tend to do. I do it to myself all the time (I dislike almost everything I do shortly after posting it anywhere).

    You've clearly accomplished a great deal and that level of experience is very valuable to a company.
  • bleet

    Just to put it into perspective, I jumped jobs 4 times in one year. To where I am now designing products for a Kitesurfing brand, I design wetsuits and gear, fucking love it! I surf every day and finally settled into something I can relate to.

    Things work out for the best if you keep on looking. If you do get a shitty job leave it. Put yourself out there, it seems like a confidence thing, which you shouldn't worry about. Your stuff is epic and all design agencies will pick that up on it and want it, even if they can't place you they will try.

    Must say, its 60% who you know, network with guys on here to get a foot in the door!
  • cityhall

    I just wanted to come back and say that because of your awesome inspiration I found a new job in downtown Houston in an awesome design department with one of the biggest tax companies in the world. Its gonna be pretty different from the melty slimey stuff I like posting on here but I'm already starting off with a major raise and a mountain of benefits that I dont get at my current job. Seriously this post really helped me take the plunge when I wasn't confident at all looking for a job without a degree. Taking this semester off from school and I'm gonna play it by ear to figure out when the time is right to finish up. Thanks guys!
  • OptimisticDesigns

    I ultimately decided to go to college; however, instead of having a Design-based major (graphic, digital media, etc.), I went with majoring in Brand Management and Marketing in order to understand both sides of the industry and how to efficiently run my freelance business and create future endeavors. It has already proved VERY beneficial from initial interviews and internships I've had.

    To each his own, though - like other people have said in here, it ultimately comes down to networking and your portfolio/experience; however, it doesn't hurt to have that completed degree under your belt. Good luck with everything!
  • BluCanoe

    Sorry to dig up an old thread but I didn't see the point in starting a new one when this was already here. So it seems that a degree is not necessary to land some pretty rad jobs, but my question is HOW did you all do it? I'm currently job searching and every cool job I've come across has a degree listed as a requirement. Should I just ignore that and hope my portfolio is good enough speak for itself?
  • Matt Borchert

    If a art / creative director turns down a talented applicant because they don't have a college degree, I would deem that person to be silly.

    Alas, there are definitely those people out there, but it sure doesn't hurt to try. The worst thing that could happen is that you'll end up in the same place you started.
  • dbdesign

    I have a design degree, waste of time because I still consider myself to be self-taught. It will help you get a foot in the door at most places, but ultimately it's your work and how you present yourself that will win you the job.
  • cmeyers

    i got my very first full time gig because i was already doing a lot of work for the record label and they needed a full time guy. it was a hurley owned and operated label, so that got my foot in the door there. all of my other jobs since then (kr3w/supra, o'neill, burton, urban decay, and element) have all been from an agency called 24seven. they're free. i've applied for a job, never heard back, then the agency contacted the company about the job, i was interviewed and hired.
  • dbdesign

    cmeyers said:called 24seven

    Never heard of it, thanks man, been looking for a new full-time gig! Going to give this site a shot.
  • cmeyers

    dbdesign said:
    cmeyers said:called 24seven

    Never heard of it, thanks man, been looking for a new full-time gig! Going to give this site a shot.

    it may just be a southern california and new york thing, but yeah. it's been great. a lot of their stuff is temp to hire. when i was a temp at urban decay and got hired full time they came in with a bunch of little gifts for me like cupcakes and a card and stuff. customer service is great but you have to hound them sometimes about work.
  • BluCanoe

    Thanks everybody for the thoughts. I really appreciate how helpful every has been!
  • Portox

    I've passed my degree and wish I didn't ... the things I were taught were useless I learnt more in one week at a work experience than the whole 3 years at university.
  • Portox

    Plus I'm currently an office administrator ... and restructuring all my work since university. Go figure!

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