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How to Become a Web Designer Without a Degree

While having a degree isn’t a formal requirement for becoming a Web Designer, it is the most common route for professionals looking to work in the field. This is because a lot of training and practice is required, so it helps to learn these skills in a controlled classroom environment. However, if you don’t have a college degree, fret not. You can still find work as a Web Designer, you’ll just need to take a different path to prepare yourself for the job market.

What is a Web Designer?

Web Designers are creative professionals who are tasked with designing the layout and assets for web pages and mobile applications. They are creative professionals who are responsible for designing evocative and visually appealing web designs for their clients, and they will work on a diverse range of different projects. They tend to be well-rounded creatives who use both creative software applications and programming knowledge to design and build web applications. Using software applications such as Figma or Adobe XD, web designers will construct the appearance and feel of both the visual and functional elements of a webpage before handing that design off to web developers who will make the design a reality. At smaller firms, a Web Designer may also be expected to work on the programming side of a web design project, so most Web Designers learn the basics of HTML/CSS and JavaScript.

Web designers are most commonly employed by design firms that contract their service to clients, though many work as self-employed freelancers or work in-house for large businesses that are regularly building or updating web applications. They will most frequently work as part of large teams of designers and developers when working on large projects, but they may also find themselves working on individual smaller assignments, particularly if they are working as freelancers. Web Designers may specialize in working on specific elements or aspects of webpages or digital applications, such as building user interfaces or working on the tactile elements of a webpage to build a positive user experience.

Can You Really Become a Web Designer Without a Degree?

While some jobs will prioritize applicants with a college degree over others, there is no real reason that lacking a college degree will keep you from becoming a Web Designer. Likewise, having a degree in an unrelated field can still be useful, though additional focused training will still be necessary. While the path to a professional career will be different, there is nothing stopping a dedicated non-college graduate from finding work as a Web Designer.

Step #1: Learn About Web Designer Field

The first step in becoming a Web Designer is simply learning about the field and the career path. Noble Desktop provides students with a number of free resources, including an exhaustive selection of articles on the Web Designer Career Hub page, to help students become familiar with the life of a Web Designer before they commit to this as a future career path. In these articles, you can learn about the kinds of tools Web Designer uses, what kinds of projects they can expect to work on, and what they can expect from entry-level positions, including job responsibilities and starting salaries.

Step #2: Learn Web Designer Skills

After you’ve committed to working to become a Web Designer, the most important early step will be receiving the training that you need in order to work in the field. Web Design is a fairly varied career path, so there are a number of different skills you’ll need to learn. Competitive Web Designers should have a background in visual design and composition, they should know how to use industry-standard design software like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Figma, and they should have basic HTML/CSS and JavaScript skills. While this may seem like a massive collection of skills, eventually, most designers will end up specializing in one or more elements of the design process, making advanced training more clear and focused.

One great way to pick up these skills is to enroll in Noble Desktop’s Web Design Certificate program. This career-focused skills training program is designed for students who don’t have advanced web design training and aims to teach students all of the important skills they will need in order to start a successful web design career. Students will learn all of the important design applications, including Figma and the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of tools, and they will learn the basics of coding in HTML/CSS and JavaScript. In addition to receiving essential, hands-on skills training, students enrolled in this course will be able to take advantage of important career professionalization services, including one-on-one mentorship sessions and portfolio-building exercises.

Step #3: Get Experience in Web Designer Projects

While a formal training program is a great way to get hands-on experience, it can’t completely substitute the much longer process of gaining experience in a college degree program. This means that anyone looking to give themselves a leg-up on the job market will want to find other venues for gaining experience to put them on par with other applicants. Aspiring designers might want to consider volunteer work if it is available, but they should also be careful to protect their own time and labor so as to not give away too much for free simply to build a slightly larger design portfolio. Students can also mock up their own web design projects during their free time in order to stay in practice with basic skills like HTML/CSS.

Another way to get hands-on experience is to enroll in a shorter skills-focused bootcamp through Noble Desktop. These bootcamps will take significantly less time than a career-granting certificate program, but they will still provide students with the chance to get hands-on experience designing aspects of a web project that mirror the work that they can expect to do in their real-world professional experiences. These bootcamps also provide students with focused instruction in a single skill, like Figma or Photoshop, which means that students who feel that they have a gap in their training can focus on the thing they want more experience working on. 

Step #4: Develop a Web Designer Portfolio

Once you are comfortable with your training and experience and feel ready to start building your job materials, the most important thing to consider is how you are going to construct your professional portfolio. This portfolio is used to demonstrate your skills, style, and abilities to prospective employers, and it is one of the more significant parts of your job application materials. This portfolio will demonstrate to employers that you can put your training into practice and that you are ready to start producing design work that rises to a professional standard.

There are a number of different concerns that go into creating a portfolio. Noble covers most of these in their Web Designer Portfolio Website article, but the most important aspect of a portfolio is ensuring that it conveys your unique voice as a designer and that it puts your best foot forward. It will be essential that you work on your portfolio and that you receive feedback on this work. By enrolling in a career-certificate program through Noble Desktop, you will receive guided instruction in portfolio building as part of your professional development instruction and you will get one-on-one career mentorship seminars during which you can get personalized feedback on your portfolio.

Step #5: Build a Web Design Network

Another important element of preparing to work as a Web Designer is building a professional network of designers, developers, and professional references who can help you find a job. Not only will you need to find professional references who can vouch for your skills as a designer, but you will also want to have a coherent cohort of professionals you can turn to for advice and for assistance on things like mock interviews, portfolio questions, or tips on finding job listings. Building a network of designers is particularly important for Web Designers because many designers you work with will have unique enough styles and voices that they can leverage to assist you and collaborate with you on projects or other job-related processes.

While universities are great places to build a network of connections, students enrolling in a career certificate program will also be positioned alongside like-minded students and expert instructors who can help build these connections. As with most of these concerns, the main disadvantage of a career-certificate program (in regards to things like networking building) is that they are more accelerated, leaving less time for students to build connections because they are busy building skills. However, in Noble’s career certificate programs, students will have time to work on professional development skills (including networking), and they will work one-on-one with instructors who may be able to help them with some of their concerns.

Step #6: Apply for Web Designer Jobs

Once you are fully comfortable with your job materials, you can start applying for jobs in the industry or begin work on freelance design projects. While finding a job listing can be challenging, once you have the relevant materials, it is simply a matter of putting yourself out there and waiting for responses to enter the next stage of the application process.

Another route to take is finding potential employment and design experience working as a freelance Web Designer. These designers will build their own collection of clients and design projects, giving them added control over the kinds of work they take on. They will have to manage a lot of the logistical and administrative tasks, such as building a network of clients, that studio designers won’t have to handle.

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