Interested in becoming a designer? Good. Don’t rush it.
Becoming a ‘master’ in any field generally follows the 10,000-hour rule, but if you’re thinking about changing careers or just starting out in the world of design, here are a few thoughts.
There are a lot of self-taught designers out there and its becoming increasingly easy to find excellent tutorials online to learn the technical aspects of software and to a certain extent, design principles and the fundamentals of design psychology. I, however, received formal education in design by doing an undergraduate degree in visual communications. It was an integrated program where you learned everything from marketing to photography, painting and web development. I initially found myself doing well in graphic design courses, so I decided to focus on them. It took about six months, after a 4-year degree, to land my first job (this was circa 2006–2007, when the world was an extremely different place!) as a graphic designer making about $80 a day.
However, an essential element that cannot be taught, formal or otherwise, is good taste. A design decision may be fundamentally and technically correct, but if you don’t have good taste, it doesn’t matter. This only comes with time. Once you develop reasonably good taste, which I eventually did after about five years in the field, you could be making anywhere between $120 — $200 a day, usually by combining a full-time job with freelance side projects.
Exponential technology has been great with websites offering to do designs for you for less than $5 or under 10 minutes! All this great technology, however, has come at a price — bad quality and questionable taste. There are no shortcuts to good design, just like there are no shortcuts to building a great brand or a company or corporate culture within that company.
Take your time, learn, read, observe and observe some more.