New here

Good afternoon. New here. Been searching awhile for schools on graphic design. I stumbled on to this forum as a recommendation for info. Little bout myself currently 42 been in the automotive industry as a painter. Work is good but a little hard on the body so I wanted to go back to school and get my bachelors. I have some college experience but was for the career I’m in now. What drew me to design is I always felt and liked being creative. Going into the supermarket and seeing different products and how they came out with the design caught my interest. Hope to grow and post more in this forum. As for now just looking for advice on training. I have done so much research looking at schools and having hard time finding one that fits. I’m kind of stuck in that it has to be online because I work. Also kind of stuck on price and location. Fortunately I qualify for hazel wood act from military to be used for schooling. I’m also stuck only Texas schools. I just got excepted into University Texas at El Paso for online degree in media advertising. The trouble I have is finding classes online in state of Texas for graphic design. I read online some people have a similar degree and can just take some technical training to get foot in the door. I also heard of programs like udemy etc. wondering if that might work. I know being online you miss out of the networking and critique that you get in traditional college but hopefully I can get that here. Thanks so much. Just looking for feedback from professionals in the industry and if I’m on the right path. Looking forward to creating!

Welcome, Kennyd.

That’s a great introduction with lots of background information.

I don’t want to burst your bubble, but neither do I want to see you spend a lot of money and time on a degree program that might not work out for you. So let me offer a few words of advice.

I’d strongly suggest that you need to network with some designers in your area. (Networking with some head hunters would be a good idea, too.) Offer to buy them breakfast some morning in exchange for an hour of their time. Find out what they do all day. Find out what kind of projects they work on. What kind of a career path did they take to get to the point they are at now? Find out what the job market is like in your area. Is there a glut of designers looking for work? Are designers getting hired quickly? What’s the starting salary for designers? What sort of benefit packages (if any) are typically offered? How much experience are employers looking for? What will the design field look like in 10 years? 20 years? What are the threats and opportunities in the field?

This is probably taboo or politically incorrect – let’s face it, everything is these days – but you need to consider your age. You’re 42 now; let’s say it takes you 4 years to complete a program. You’re going to be 46 and competing for entry level jobs (that might pay $10 or $15 an hour with no benefits) against kids in their early 20s.

And the entry level jobs probably aren’t going to be great. Don’t think that you can go through an online course and walk right into a job design food packaging for major brands. That type of work takes years and years of experience, and there are teams of people behind it. There are large agencies that have grocery aisles set up in their office to test packaging. Packaging doesn’t change on a whim and, if a change is made and sales are negatively affected, heads roll.

So that’s a whole lot of discouragement. Does that mean you shouldn’t pursue a career in graphic design? Does that mean you can’t make it in the field? Does that mean you can’t support a family as a designer? The answer to all of those questions is “no.”

You just need to go into this with realistic expectations for what it’s going to take and what it can deliver. No matter what you decide, best of luck.

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Thank you for the feedback as well as tips I haven’t thought of. For sure definitely the age factor is something I have considered on this journey. As well as starting from the bottom again working myself up. I will take your advice and try and pick brains of designers in my area. Thanks again for the feedback.

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In addition to this, I might add that age discrimination is a huge issue in this field. For some totally unfounded reason, the older one gets, the more difficult it is to break into the field and advance one’s career. Starting out in one’s 40s would be difficult. For that matter, starting out in one’s 20s in an over-saturated market is difficult on its own.

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