Have you been wondering if you need to go back to school and get a degree in computer science or graphic design to be able to design websites for clients?
It’s a common misconception that I see. But it’s just not true!
Let me start out by saying that I’m a fan of college. Yes, I went. Yes, I learned a lot, made a lot of friends, and had a great time. But am I doing what I went to school for? NO.
While I did go to school for a form of design, it was for commercial interior design. So I wasn’t exactly designing glamorous kitchens and master bathrooms, it was more like hospitals. I took probably one class on graphic design in college and none on building websites.
Fun fact - I actually wasn’t allowed to even have a computer during my first year of school. We had to draft everything by hand!
The connections I made and the experience I gained throughout college went way farther than the conceptual ideas I was taught. Those connections are what got me my first jobs out of school.
The thing is, so many people don’t end up doing what they went to school for. But they become really good at what they ARE doing. Gaining real-world experience is the most valuable learning opportunity there is.
Honestly, since I’ve been a web designer I haven’t had any potential clients ask to see my degree. A portfolio and personality speak way higher of the results they'll get over classes you took years ago.
If you are going after really large corporate clients, maybe they’ll want to know more about your background. But even then years of experience will matter much more than a piece of paper.
This is a technique I like to use in so many situations. Think about another service provider that you might hire, like a plumber or a cabinet maker. Do you ask to see their degree before you hire them?
More than likely they’ve been recommended to you or you’ve read reviews and viewed their past work, and that’s enough.
If you want to become a surgeon, you should probably go back to school (nobody wants to be operated on by someone self-taught on YouTube). But SO many other skills can be learned online now, that going into debt just isn’t necessary.
There are so many options out there!
I teach aspiring web designers how to build Webflow websites without code in my course Design + Grow with Webflow. If you want to go the Squarespace route, there are courses for that. Websites like Udemy and Skillshare offer hundreds of online courses on everything from starting an Etsy shop to learning to code. You can even learn a LOT on YouTube for free!
And then…you practice! You spend the time to get really good at what you’ve learned through passion projects or beginner projects for friends and family. With each project, you build your portfolio and gain that real-world experience that is so important!
According to last year’s study by Stack Overflow, almost 70% of all developers are at least partly self-taught, with 13% of respondents saying they are exclusively self-taught. Less than half have a degree in computer science or a related field.
You’re in good company, so go for it!