Certificate Programs vs. An Associates Degree
My question is one to be debated.
I am currently working as a marketing assistant with many design responsibilities. I have grown to love this and wish to take my career in this direction. Here is the problem: I have no real college experience. I am however very fortunate to be located in a city that has many opportunities to remedy this issue.
I have come across a great program at The New England School of Art and Design (at Suffolk University) that offers a certificate program in Graphic Design. My hope is that a certificate from a respected institution coupled with my work experience will be all that I need to kick-start my carer in graphic design. I do worry that will simply not be the case, that I could be overlooked and have wasted money as a result.
As design professionals, which weighs heavier in the hiring process: a certificate or an associates degree?
I would have to say that in my experience, neither of these matter as much as work experience and a demonstration of your abilities/knowledge.
I have zero certifications or degrees in graphic design and I have been doing it professionally for about 10 years and I'm currently the creative services manager for a magazine.
I have always had an interest in creating art and I began teaching myself photoshop in roughly 7-8th grade. I was in college and was pretty much in your same position. No experience, no degree, but I was lucky enough to get my foot in the door because I had some knowledge of photoshop. I took on as much work as I could for my company and tried to learn as many things as I could, in order to make myself more appealing to future employers and expand my skill set.
I'm not saying don't get a degree (I have my BS to fall back on, so that always looks better on paper than nothing). I'm just trying to say that I don't think either is essential or required, as long as you have a demonstrated aptitude for design and an eagerness/ability to learn.
That should be enough to at least get you started someplace. If you get in with a good company, they may even pay for you to get more training/certifications or have other designers there that can mentor you on certain things.
I suggest that if you can avoid a student loan, do so. haha