As a creative professional, the road to career success is more like a confusing tangle of interstate highways than a clear-cut path. While some professionals choose to pursue a Master’s degree, others are self-taught through online design courses. With job opportunities ranging from in-house manager to UX designer to freelance illustrator, it’s no wonder that traditional education is more attractive to certain creatives. But learning isn’t something reserved for the inside of a classroom. In fact, to really stand out in an already crowded career marketplace, it’s in your best interest to keep learning new skills. Up to the challenge of going back to school? Here’s five reasons you should consider taking online design courses.
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4 Reasons to Learn New Skills in Online Design Courses
1. It discourages career autopilot.
As soon as you get comfortable in your position, it’s easy to coast. You have an efficient way of pumping out work, so why mess with success? Well, your next raise may depend on your willingness to raise the bar. In an economy where many companies remain hesitant to hand out pay increases, even to worthy employees, you need to prove your worth.
Many times, this means a willingness to take on great responsibilities, which may include using a skill set that you haven’t mastered. For an in-house designer who works primarily on printed brochures, it may mean cultivating your interactive design chops. Taking online design courses proves you’re serious about expanding your job duties. Even better, you can point to the completion certificate when you approach your boss to discuss compensation.
photo from Shutterstock
2. It engages your brain.
You know how you started tuning out math lessons as soon as they strayed from practical “real-world” skills, but now that you can use an app to calculate tips or google “how many teaspoons in a tablespoon,” you’ve kind of lost your arithmetic prowess entirely? Design skills are no different. Use it or lose it, people.
That’s why, even though you know some typography basics, your skills are a little rusty if you don’t tap them consistently. It’s a symptom of the career autopilot syndrome discussed above. The perfect way to fight brain mush? Engage your mind by mastering a new (or old) skill set. If you spend all day designing product packaging, get your hands dirty in some code. If you work on animation and motion graphics all day, consider learning how to craft an eye-catching infographic.
3. It makes you more interesting at parties.
Let’s be honest: Your Wonder Years reruns addiction does not make for rousing discussions in social situations. If you’re interested in a relatively popular TV show, maybe you get more people willing to engage you, but since pretty much everyone is a slave to her screen in some way, your overall street cred as a cool, edgy creative takes a serious hit.
Start off the discussion with an interesting thing you learned or something you’ve been working on, and that cute honey from across the room has a talking point she can use to chat you up. It’s better than forcing her to feign interest in what Fred Savage has been up to since 1993.
4. It leads to fabulous riches.
Okay, maybe that’s a little overly optimistic. But once you’ve paid the registration fee for a course, you’re well on your way to incorporating your new skill in a money-making venture. That venture may be asking your boss for a raise. It could mean finally turning that passion project you’ve been working on into a retail-ready product or lead to additional freelance opportunities to supplement the paycheck from your regular nine-to-five. If you’re not interested in money, richness of talent is always a plus.
Ready to learn something new? See all of the online design courses available at HOW Design University. Register for any course with code SUMMER14 to take 20% off tuition!
Here are a few recommendations for graphic design courses starting August 4 in case you’re not sure what to take:
- Basic Typography Bootcamp with Denise Bosler
- Managing a Web Design Project from Start to Finish with Dave Holston
- Product Packaging Design Strategy with Jennifer Tausch
- Advanced Responsive Web Design Techniques with Brian Wood