How do I get into graphic design?

After finishing my A levels I am looking for an opportunity to work with a graphic design business which could include interior design/ product design etc.

I am trying to find an apprenticeship instead of going to university, however I am struggling to find any.

Could you offer any advice on how I could find work and whether I need to get a degree in order to find work in this area?



— Ollie

Expert answers

Anthony Rayworth 's reply:

Hi Ollie

A good place for advice is:

I would recommend a Degree as this is a very competitive area in which to work. Most design studios will accept trainee or internships , usually to degree students.

I hope this helps


James Robinson 's reply:

Hi Ollie

No doubt, there will be opportunities out there – but it is likely that you'll face fierce competition from graphic / design graduates, which in many ways will have an advantage, having studied and developed a portfolio.

You also suggest interior and product design – this being the case, it may be that undertaking a one year, Art Foundation course would be beneficial – they have a reputable course nearby, at Loughborough University. This is a very 'hands-on' course (not dissimilar to an apprenticeship), covering a broad range of design related disciplines and is often a precursor for undertaking design study; including graphics. Thereafter, when you've put together a strong portfolio, the London College of Communication runs a one year DVC course which would be worth looking at

Nottingham Trent and Sheffield Hallam Uni both have great reputations for graphic design and would be worth getting in touch with, to see how then can help / offer advise.



Melanie Shee's reply:

Hi Oillie

Unfortunately many employers do tend to employ graphic designers who have a degree in a relevant subject area which may account for why you are having a problem finding an apprenticeship as there are not as many available in this sector than others such as Digital Media and Marketing.  

However, you do not necessarily have to undertake a degree course as there other courses available such as that Shillington College who offers a three-month (full time) or nine-month (part time) portfolio-based graphic design programme. In fact, a former colleague of mine has just completed this course and is currently working in a design agency in Northumberland. However, although he is now competent in some of the key packages such as Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat and Sketch he feels he has missed out developing specific creative skills and lacks the `creative’ aspect his role requires. He is now considering going to university to develop these skills via enrolling on an arts foundation course so please bare this is mind.  It also a highly competitive area and you will be competing with graduates who have developed their design portfolio.

If you decide to undertake undergraduate study you could study for a specific graphic design course or it could be in any design-related discipline, such as,  photography, illustration or visual art, but a specific graphic design degree will be probably be the most useful as you will gain the specific skills and knowledge for the role as a graphic designer.  There are a wide range of degree and foundation degree course available so if you do decide to go choose wisely. I would suggest you look at the Which University for free and impartial guide to courses.

If I were you I would look at current job descriptions for a graphic designer to see what employers are looking for if you wish to be employed by a company as opposed to working for yourself. I would also consider contacting a few local design companies and ask them if you can pop in for a quick chat to see to see what skills and personal attributes they are looking if they were going to employ someone as this may help you make a decision of what route to go down.

If you do your research and decide University is not for you could take a look here as they do advertise apprenticeships.

I hope this is of some. Best wishes and good luck.


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