How to Finance a Career Change to Graphic Design?

There are a lot of people who would really like to quit their day job and explore their creative side. Both of us did the same at some point. I admire the decision to leave a job that makes you unhappy and go into Graphic Design.

You have several advantages:

  1. You already a Bachelor’s degree (more on that later)
  2. Everyone needs something designed.

Here’s what I recommend for you:

Start with a very low-cost option.  Sign up for the online tutorials at amazon.  They have excellent on line instruction for all the major Graphics software applications. Don’t equate this with “tutorial books.” Lynda.com has excellent classroom teachers… they are simply brought to you online instead of your having to go to class. And, they are sample projects that you can download and work on at your own pace.  (Don’t knock this until you have tried it.  They have many free (beginning) modules for all their programs. And it’s quite reasonable.. Something like $25 per month for anything and everything they offer…  Check it out.)  This is as close as you can get to actual classroom work without being there… for a small fraction of the cost.

Once you are doing that, use your skills to begin creating real graphic projects for actual businesses.  How to do that?  Use your friends as contacts.  Start by doing work FREE for small businesses.  Do good work, then little by little, work up so that you’re getting paid.  (You don’t have to leave your day job yet, and you don’t have any sizable cost of education.)

Next, use the money from your first jobs to pay for Graphic Design seminars and short-term classes.  (Here’s where being in NYC will be a huge help. There are lots of classes out there. Ask your friends in the design world which are best.)

As your work becomes more professional, put it up on your own web site. Use that site to show potential clients (or an employer) your work.   You will find it very helpful to see examples of outstanding work in the Graphic Design field.  There are some very good annuals, such as the New York Art Directors Club annual, The One Show, The Creativity Annual, and books by Carter, Big Book of Design Ideas, Big Book of Logos, etc. You don’t need to pay full price for those.  Most are available used at amazon.

And, you already have a Bachelor’s degree.  To potential employers, that is a key to getting in the door.  They don’t care that it is NOT in graphic design.  What they do care about is the quality of your work.  If you follow these steps, you can improve your work to the professional level. I truly believe folks have the potential to shine. Make sure you get the 1st degree to have a good solid foundation, in case reality hits and you are finding it difficult in the new environment. For us working on brochures, magazines all came much later on in life. Work hard folks!