Become a Freelance Graphic Designer Without a Degree

How to Become a Freelance Graphic Designer Without a Degree

  • Post category:VA Jobs
  • Post last modified:April 8, 2023

A degree isn’t the most important criteria in securing a graphic design job.

Your experience, skill level, and creativity are all more crucial.

A portfolio is just as significant as—or more important—than a graphic design degree.

Additional educational options are accessible for those who desire to study the field more quickly or independently.

If you want to start a career on graphic design, but are hesitant because you lack a degree, there are a number of steps you may take to enhance your design skills and land a job.

1. Begin by learning the fundamentals.

So you’re talented, creative, and passionate about art and design.

That’s fantastic, but there’s a lot more to becoming a graphic designer.

You should also be knowledgeable with the fundamentals of design.

These include principles of art such as scale, color, perspective, and balance.

You will also need to understand how to write effective compositions.

You should also be familiar with typography because graphic design combines both text and pictures.

Learning the principles of graphic design can help you become a competent and well-rounded graphic designer.

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Because you can’t build a strong foundation if you don’t understand the fundamentals.

These concepts will teach you all you need to know about creating visually attractive designs.

However, if you haven’t learned them, your designs will be flawed from the beginning.

Spend some time on the fundamentals and you’ll be glad for it for the rest of your life.

And it doesn’t have to be costly.

You can get started by taking some free graphic design classes.

2. Get Certificate Programs

If a four-year degree appears to be too time-consuming or expensive to pursue, there are other possibilities for professional training that are less time-consuming and less expensive.

These graphic design certificate programs are available in a live online format, allowing you to participate from anywhere.

Certificate courses not only educate you about industry software, but they also provide assignments to help you build your portfolio.

3. Lectures and Workshops

Another alternative to a college degree is to attend a workshop-style training session or an informative presentation about the graphic design industry.

This is a wonderful way to learn more about the subject matter and pursue further training before enrolling in a lengthier course.

Many local groups provide design lectures or training programs, which is also a great way to network with professionals in the industry.

4. Upgrade Your Tools

You must have the necessary tools to advertise yourself as a professional graphic designer.

You can’t rely on an ancient laptop that takes hours to open files and crashes regularly.

Graphic design may be a difficult and time-consuming undertaking, so you’ll need the right tools for the job.

The most critical item to get is a powerful computer.

It should have a strong CPU, a large amount of RAM, a large amount of storage space, and a decent GPU.

A responsive mouse for graphic design is also a wise purchase.

It will be much more responsive and quick, and it may feature extra helpful functionalities.

If you wish to see your designs clearly and in high clarity, you’ll also need a monitor.

There are low-cost and high-end options available!

I would also recommend that you invest in ergonomic equipment.

It will make a significant difference in your comfort if you work long hours.

A simple ergonomic mouse pad can help relieve wrist and arm strain.

Having the right tools will help you to do your best work.

The most significant element of the puzzle, though, is your computer.

Once you have a good laptop or desktop computer, you may start working and purchase more equipment as needed.

5. Study the Software

If you wish to start a graphic design career without formal training, it is critical that you learn the tools utilized by industry pros.


The Adobe Creative Cloud package, which includes popular tools like Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator, is the most commonly utilized software in design jobs.

The package includes over 20 graphic design programs, as well as typefaces and other storage possibilities. To have access and download the program, you must be a member.

6. Discover Your Own Design Style

You might have every skill and qualification available.

However, if you don’t have a distinct and eye-catching style, you won’t be able to stand out from the rest.

That’s why it’s critical to spend some time figuring out your own personal style.

It is what makes people remember you, seek you out, and return for more.

The process of developing your design style will take time.

You’ll need to devote time to it as well as practice a lot.

You might begin by looking at other designers’ work and determining what appeals to you the most.

Then, you may use these pieces as inspiration for your own endeavors, giving them your own distinctive touch.

When developing your style, consider what you’re strong at and what you like creating.

However, bear in mind what works successfully for the sorts of firms with whom you wish to collaborate.

Learn. Become an Apprentice. Get Hired.

That way, you can be certain that your style will appeal to the proper individuals and land you a job.

7. Create a Portfolio

A portfolio is essential for any design professional since it is frequently a client’s initial impression of your work and personal style.

There are several services and free platforms available to assist you in creating your own internet site, albeit free choices may have constraints on pages or hosting.

Adobe Portfolio is a popular alternative among design professionals owing to the hosting and endless pages available from a single source.

The application is intended for artists and works to promote your work through excellent layouts.

Building a strong portfolio will help you stand out from the crowd of candidates to companies or designers to clients.

8. Internet-based design

The term graphic design really relates to a broad variety of design disciplines, such as digital design, video editing, and many more.

User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) are critical components of digital design.

Mastering these areas can lead to additional opportunities in web design, which frequently pays more than other design positions.

9. Become Familiar with User Experience

So you’ve mastered the fundamentals, acquired the necessary tools, and even determined your specialty.

But there’s one more step you don’t want to overlook.

You must also be familiar with user experience (UX).

It is all about building a functional product.

This is especially important when developing complex software such as applications and webpages.

It must not just be visually appealing, but it must also be functional and simple to use.

A website, for example, requires clear and straightforward navigation to lead you to where you need to go.

You can make better designs if you understand UX.

You’ll even be able to provide guidance and ideas to your clients or CEOs.

That will be really favorable to them.

10. Begin Your Freelancing Career

One of the best ways to get design skills without a college degree is to start freelancing and selling your services to clients.

Once you’ve mastered the techniques used in the field, you may begin building a portfolio of work on sites such as Upwork and Fiverr.

11. Expand Your Online Presence

Nowadays, if you want to gain clients, you must have an online presence.

Even if you have a website, no one will find it by accident.

Instead, you should engage with people on social media.

You should have a social media presence on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Pinterest, LinkedIn, and maybe TikTok are other options.

Conduct research to discover which ones will be most useful to you.

As a graphic designer, you’ll want to select a visual platform to showcase your work.

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This is a good approach to give people a glimpse of your work.

It is also a way of telling people who you are, what you do, and how you can help them.

Finding customers online is a terrific method to get started as a graphic designer without a degree.

You can work on both retainer contracts and individual jobs.

Most importantly, many clients are unconcerned with your qualifications.

All they care about is that you can do excellent work and complete the task.

This is when your online portfolio comes in handy.

It’s what you’ll provide when applying for jobs to show employers what you’re capable of. Your design portfolio will have a large impact on whether or not you get the job.

On your website, you may establish a portfolio.

It should feature your best work that is relevant to the kind of companies you target to work with.

12. Discover Your Area of Specialization

While building a portfolio and interviewing for jobs, it may be good to have examples of your particular specialty in the business.

Everyone has their unique vision and design style that attracts a customer’s attention and helps you stand out from the crowd.

Finding your business’s unique specialization or specialty can help you identify your target audience and create a portfolio that truly reflects your work style.

Here are some ideas for alternative graphic design specialties to consider:

• Designing a logo

• Website development

• Online marketing design

• App creation

Each of these markets is in great demand and will not go out of style anytime soon.

Graphics for online marketing will always be in demand.

Every business needs a logo or a website.

So, if you want a steady and enjoyable work, you can focus on one of these specialties.

If you specialize, people will see you as an expert in your field.

As a result, it’s simple to demonstrate your worth, charge more, and get hired sooner.

Furthermore, when you choose a specialty, you may narrow your focus. As a result, developing the exact abilities you require will take less time.

It is also easier to keep up with current innovations when you concentrate on a certain industry.

13. Learn How to Effectively Manage Your Clients

As a graphic designer, you’ll need to improve more than just your practical design talents.

Visual communication is essential whether you’re a freelancer or an employee.

You must be able to speak effectively and clearly, as well as work well with others.

When you deal directly with clients, communication is very vital.

You’ll also be in charge of sales and marketing.

This includes confidently managing consultation calls and negotiating rates and scope.

Additionally, keeping clients informed of the project’s development.

You will also require solid time management and prioritizing skills.

It’s critical to keep organized and to have efficient procedures and processes in place.

Otherwise, you risk missing deadlines or omitting important instructions.

Finally, you must have a thick skin and be able to receive comments well.

There’s no need to be irritated if a customer doesn’t like a design.

You should reply positively and come up with a solution.

All of these qualities are as vital as your real design ability.

As a result, you should work on them to ensure that you show yourself in the best light possible. 

14. Keep Up to Date

Learn. Become an Apprentice. Get Hired.

Staying updated on current trends in the industry and software processes is crucial for anyone looking to secure a new career role.

Technology is always evolving, which means software can change each year with each new release.

Taking refresher courses in software or best graphic design practices can help you stay up to date in the field and stand out from other applicants.

You may learn more about design principles in certain industries by enrolling in low-cost online courses.

You may also subscribe to publications, read widely, and follow the top industry blogs.

Viewing YouTube videos may also be a good way to enhance your skills.

Graphic design is a creative profession with great career security that doesn’t require a degree.

There are various avenues that one might take to become a graphic designer.

If you are motivated and hardworking, you may make a livelihood as a self-taught graphic designer.



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