From time to time I get emails asking for advice about freelance matters. I hope that by publishing these inquiries and my response I can do a better service to my blog readers than just responding one email at a time. Plus, those of you who may have input on the matter that I didn’t think of can chime in with a comment! If there’s a question you have or a subject you’d like to get an opinion on, please contact me!
Hi Liz !
I am a 17 year old high school student who has just started my Senior Year. I think I may be interested in becoming a freelance web designer after graduation, but I’m not sure what is required. Would it be better to study computer science or programming in college or should I go to design school? Should I skip college and just learn from online tutorials? Will it be easier to start out as a freelancer or to get a job somewhere? Lastly, is your market competitive?
Sorry for so many questions! Thanks for any help you can offer!
– Future Freelancer?
Would it be better to study computer science or programming in college or should I go to design school?
There is always the option for a double-major, if you are able to bite off that cost and workload, do it. Getting an in depth education of both might reveal to you that you are more interested in one than the other (and you may be surprised at which one that is!)
Of course, a double-major is a whole lot to bite off — so if this suggestion has you nodding your head, understandable. I’m interested to hear other readers thoughts, but I think learning to design is something that is best learned in a classroom environment where you have the ability to feed off other ideas and work, collaborate, and critique. Once you get into the design world so much of the job is being able to work with others be it other designers, developer, writers, marketers, or clients – so getting used to being creative within this atmosphere is really valuable.
Should I skip college and just learn from online tutorials?
Of course, there are a lot of practicing web designers who did not go to college and are completely self taught. I double majored in Fine Art with a focus on Painting and Graphic Design. It wasn’t until after graduation that I really started to indulge my passion for web design and learning more about development.
Unlike something like becoming a lawyer or doctor there is no exact path you have to take to become qualified to charge people money or your web design services.
Now, in my eyes, I say – if you have the opportunity to do college, you should take it! It’s going the only time you will have to completely immerse yourself in focusing on learning, you’ll learn a lot about what interests you and you’ll be able to have some guidance in your academic journey that you won’t get by learning from online tutorials and books.
Will it be easier to start out as a freelancer or to get a job somewhere?
Just as I believe learning design within an academic community is valuable to prepare you for a job in the real world. I would also say that having a job at a design firm is going to prepare you to be successful at freelancing.
What will be easier? To be successful at either, you’re gonna have to work HARD. having experience in both environments I wouldn’t say that either is easy, but when getting started working for someone else is a lot simpler! Remember that freelancing is not JUST the design and development part of the job – you’re also running a business!
Is the design field competitive?
What’s your advice?
Am I missing something? Do you have a different perspective on this matter that you would like to share? Do you disagree with any of my thoughts? Leave a comment and tell us about it!