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A question about courses and what qualification to take.

Discussion in 'Universities & Training Forum:' started by Acknowledged74, May 2, 2011.

  1. Acknowledged74

    Acknowledged74 New Member


    I'm looking at retraining in Graphic Design and or Digital/Print Publishing but I'm really unsure how important the actual qualification is to this, or untimately if its the portfolio that really counts ?

    The courses seem to be

    BTEC - Diploma Level 3 in Graphic Design - 2 year
    HNC Graphic Design - 1 year
    HND Graphic Design - 2 year
    or BA Graphic Design though the HNC and HND can be years one and 2 of a 3 year BA.

    There are many expensive professional courses as well, but they don't seem to give qualification as such.

    In all honesty I would love to just to Digital publishing i.e. working on InDesign etc on print layout and design, for editorial, and designing posters, brochures and so on.

    Any advice would be great thanks.


  2. sthomas

    sthomas Member

    You're right in that ultimately it's going to be your portfolio that's the main reason you get the job.

    However, an important thing to consider when choosing a design course is does it offer the chance for work experience or placement during or after the course?

    What links does it have to the design industry? Does it give you the opportunity to teach you practical, 'real-world' design skills?

    Personally I would go and visit the college/Uni to get some feedback from the tutors and students on the course as this will give you a much better insight than reading a college prospectus.

    Good luck and let us know how you get on.
  3. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    If you're absolutely sure this is what you want to do, I'd personally recommend skipping the BTEC level (and possibly even a Foundation Degree) and going straight into a full degree. I did a BTEC prior to my course, which honestly taught me nothing.

    Everything I need to know (and more) is being taught on my degree course (that's the whole point of it after all). You may find you lack work to show though if you have not worked in the field before. If this is the case, a short course to give you some portfolio work (or even just stuff created in your spare time) can help you get onto a course. From my experience the course leader's aren't concerned too much by where or how the work was produced so long as you have a decent amount to show them.

    This is a big investment though, and if you're not sure it's what you want to do I'd wait until you are absolutely certain.

    Where about in the country are you looking to study?
    Last edited: May 2, 2011
  4. djb

    djb Member

    From my (rather outdated) experience, I’ll second what Paul said about a BTEC. I did a day release/apprenticeship type thing and quite happily kept up with, and exceeded, the tutors knowledge just through learning on the job. These days, of course, you can learn a lot online. Another chap on my course in the same situation as me ended up getting a job at the college as an IT tutor... replacing our tutor!
  5. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    I Did, A-level Design Tech (2nd year specalising in Graphics), BTEC Graphic Design, HND Applied Digital Media Design. A lot of my peers went on to do a 1 year top up in a specialist area (eg, Web coding, Strict graphics etc..) but by that point I'd spent 6 years studying so didn't see any value in the top up and to be honest I don't think I missed anything apart from how to write a dissertation.

    When it came to getting a foot in the door I was definitely at a disadvantage because my CV didn't Say BA Hons but I got there in the end. In the year where most of my college mates were still studying, I was freelancing, working for a printer and probably learning a lot more about the job than the rest of em.
  6. spottypenguin

    spottypenguin Active Member

    Meh I have a First in Graphic Design and I have found it more of a hinderance than a help in getting work. Bottom line your portfolio and apptitude will say more for you.
  7. Tony Hardy

    Tony Hardy Well-Known Member

    I found the reverse to that. Either my BTEC was so good, Uni haven't been able to show me anything that I didn't already know, or, well, that's the only explanation.
    My BTEC and Foundation Courses were amazing and very very useful. Without them, I wouldn't have made it through Uni I don't think.
  8. sthomas

    sthomas Member

    I didn't realise you could do a degree without first completing a Foundation Course.

    I agree with Tony that a Foundation Course gives you an introduction to lots of different disciplines (Graphic Design, Illustration, etc etc) and was very useful for me in deciding which was the right BA degree for me to take.
  9. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    You can leap frog if you have sufficient qualifications in another field that give you the amount of UCAS points required to be considered for the course. I did a BTEC in moving image prior to my design degree, and before that I'd done further education courses in IT administration and CAD. My qualification from those, plus my portfolio of work was enough to allow me onto the course.

    I would imagine it varies from course to course so it's worth ensuring you have the correct requirements to apply before you do so.
  10. karlmarsh05

    karlmarsh05 New Member

    Is it worth it??

    Is it worth while attaining qualifications at the cost of wasting time when most people end up starting their own business any way? if you are happy with your design ability cut the middle man out and save time and money. There are very little overheads for a graphics design business if you work from home.
    Speaking to a tutor is definitely the best idea so far if working for a company is what you want to do as they will know what qualifications companies will find desirable.

    Hope this helps.
  11. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    There are very few people in this industry who will be able to succeed going straight into self employment with no formal training or industry experience. Not because you need either of those but because they usually offer some insight into how it all works but more importantly, they give you opportunity to build useful contacts, without which you're going to struggle on your own.

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