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  • A question about advancing education

    I have an AAS degree in Graphic Design from 2004. I have worked steadily in the graphic design field ever since (employee, contract & freelance). I am now looking to further my education and would like to know how professional certificates from places like EDX.org are looked upon by potential employers in comparison to traditional education paths (Bachelor's Degree).
    Thank You.


  • #2
    From my point of view, those kinds of certificates carry almost no weight whatsoever. When listed on a resume, they might even be seen as a bit detrimental in that they tend to point out the absence of a 4-year degree. Employers (especially their HR departments) tend to look for actual degrees from accredited colleges and universities, not miscellaneous and questionable online courses one might have taken.

    Just my opinion, but online courses are best taken for personal improvement and skill development. They might be something to mention in an interview in the context of how you keep current and always strive to keep growing. I don't, however, think they're a substitute for a bachelor's degree in the education section of your resume.

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    • #3
      To be honest, a lot of employers anymore only care about a portfolio and work experience (which sounds like you have both). When it comes to education, a bachelor's is favored over online certificates. As B said, employers look for the accredited locations and not questionable online certificates. I know some universities offer certificate programs which could be a decent alternative to a bachelors as well as less time and money.

      There are plenty of online courses now for free or cheap on the internet that offer a variety of topics. Sometimes something as simple as learning a new program can open up many more work opportunities.

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      • #4
        A lot of employers use software to vet possible candidates by scanning resumes. A human never reads them.
        If the BA or BFA isn't there, the computer auto-dumps it and no one ever sees it.
        Where every design position advertised gets well over 100 responses, sometimes a lot more, no one has time to sift through all that. There has to be a cut-off bar, and unfortunately for many skilled career designers, that happens to be the 4-year degree.
        Where I work, it's what you've done and who you've worked for that matters, not so much degree, so there are still some out there. But then, we've never had to advertise for a designer. Just walk out in the street and throw a stick. You're likely to hit one. Just kidding. But between friends of friends, industry contacts, interns and occasional walk-ins, there hasn't been any lack of employees, except in the high-skill trades like carpentry and metal. Tough to find tradesmen these days.

        As far as certificates go, I'm not interested in software certs. I might be more interested if you have certification in processes and hardware. It doesn't matter to me if you can pass a test showing you know what dropdown menu a filter is under, but if you can troubleshoot a fritzy computer/printer or change a printhead or understand color correction or can prepare a screen for silk screening or maybe some off the wall experience like environmental lighting or interior design (pun intended,) that kind of stuff I'd be interested in.
        Last edited by PrintDriver; 12-11-2017, 07:12 AM.

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        • #5
          Hi Roland198 and welcome to GDF.

          We ask all new members to read very important links here and here. These explain the rules, how the forum runs and a few inside jokes. No, you haven't done anything wrong, we ask every new member to read them. Your first few posts will be moderated, so don't panic if they don't show up immediately. Enjoy your stay.
          Shop smart. Shop S-Mart.

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          • #6
            Certifications might make the difference when choosing between 2 seemingly equally qualified candidates with equally impressive portfolios. But that's only after all other qualifications such as 4-year degree and work experience have been met.

            Certifications make more of a difference in business and technology fields than design fields.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by PrintDriver View Post
              A lot of employers use software to vet possible candidates by scanning resumes. A human never reads them.
              If the BA or BFA isn't there, the computer auto-dumps it and no one ever sees it.
              Here's a paraphrased version of an actual conversation I had with our HR department a few months back. Seriously.


              Me -- "How many job applicants did we receive for the open position?"

              HR -- "One-hundred thirty-seven. We screened them using the required qualifications you listed, and I passed along the top 16 to you to interview."

              Me -- "I just received a call from a perfectly qualified person who had applied, but she wasn't in the list you sent to me."

              HR -- "What was her name?"

              Me -- "Amy Smith"

              HR -- "Let's see. Well, Amy Smith, Applicant 87-b, didn't pass the initial software screening because she lacked the necessary degree."

              Me -- "She has a Master's Degree in design."

              HR -- "You specified you were looking for a BFA of BA.

              Me -- "She has a BS in advertising, and and MFA in design. Her education is perfect.

              HR -- "I'm sorry, but the software rejected Applicant 87-b due to a lack of a BFA or BA.

              Me -- "Can we include her now?"

              HR -- "No. Applicant 86-b didn't meet the listed education requirements in the job announcement. Our lawyers won't allow us to make exceptions."

              Me -- "So there's no way she can be included in the interview list?"

              HR -- "You can agree to interview all 137 applicants or, if you feel strongly enough about it, we can close the job opening, then start over."

              Me -- "You mean start over from scratch?"

              HR -- "Yes, we can reject all 137 applicants, then re-list the job announcements using your new educational requirements."

              Me -- "The original applicants won't re-apply for a job they've already applied for."

              HR -- "That's probably true, but that's how the company lawyers say we need to handle these kinds of things." If you want to, you can contact each of the 137 applicants to ask them to reapply when the announcement is re-listed. Or, like I said, you can personally interview all 137 applicants.

              Me -- "I can't interview 137 people. Can I just contact the ones I might want to interview, and ask them to reapply?"

              HR -- "No. You'll need to contact all 137 with a certified letter or we could be accused of manipulating the results. Our lawyers tell us this could result in legal problems involving federal discrimination statutes. The company has a policy about playing it safe on these things since the lawsuit several years ago."

              Me -- "You're not kidding, are you?"

              HR -- "No, we in HR take our jobs very seriously."

              Me -- "Okay, never mind."

              HR -- "Good. I thought you'd agree once I explained it to you."

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              • #8
                If you are a good graphic designer, I don't see any reason to look for a 9 to 5 job. This is just my opinion. You can freelance and earn more money than working in a company. Regarding the degree I agree with what the rest have said. An employer will always prefer a degree from an institute rather than some online course. In some cases, they may think it as something made up.

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