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Changing Careers to Graphic Design

“I’m studying [insert your non-graphic design major here]. I’m doing well in my classes, but I’m also creative. What should I do?”


Initially, you may have studied accounting. You likely did that because it was the “safe” choice: everyone everywhere needs accountants, right? “Drawing and other creative pursuits could remain hobbies,” you’d tell yourself. You made good grades in your accounting classes. You assumed, based on your academic performance, that you would enjoy accounting and finance as a career. You didn’t. In theory and on paper, accounting and finance appeared to be an ideal career. And for many it is. But it wasn’t an ideal career for you.


The classroom is not the real world. Talk to or shadow professionals who have worked as designers to get an idea of what your day-to-day will be like and to get a truer sense of what the graphic design profession has in store. Talk to a recruiter who can connect you with employers to discuss potential opportunities and requirements.


“I have a great passion for design, and I think I’m very creative. Should I pursue graphic design?”


Not without talent you shouldn’t. In his stand-up special Tambourine, Chris Rock offers an incisive corrective against such trite advice, “Check this out. You can be anything you’re good at. As long as they’re hiring. And even then it helps to know somebody.”


Graphic design isn’t for everyone. Before switching careers or pursuing a job in graphic design, do a personal inventory of your talents. What are your skills? Do you have the creative chops and aesthetic acumen to cut it as a graphic designer? More importantly, do other people say you do? If not, perhaps it would be best to consider another path.


“No, seriously, I’m legit creative and a good artist. So, I’m thinking graphic design is for me.”


As a wise graphic designer once said, design is art on a budget; a budget of money and time. You may be Rembrandt reborn, but if you can’t create on demand, on a schedule and on a budget, you should stick to fine art.


“I would consider graphic design, but I’m too far along in my career (or classes) to change now.”


You may have learned about sunk costs in business school. Sunk costs cannot be recovered and therefore should not be considered when making decisions about the future. All the time, sweat, tears and dollars you have dedicated to an unfulfilling career path or course of study should not factor into your decision. You must ask yourself and honestly answer the question: Do I want to be or remain a middling and often miserable [insert your job] or a fulfilled and potentially great graphic designer? You’ll know then what you need to do.


Looking for more career insights from creative and marketing professionals? LHH has you covered.