Gone are the days when the design process was essentially predominantly in the hands of engineers. Electronic design, creation and information technology (IT) as a whole has become a global skill. Shared, learnt, and taught in the online virtual space, these are skills that have become more widespread than ever before and as such there are more opportunities for more of us to become designers, creators and innovators. This article shows how the widespread availability of various forms of design software can make creative designers and innovators of us all. The article also looks at how you can build the design skills that are now so much in demand across several industries and businesses as a whole.
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Choose a Specific Design Sector
If you’re looking to make a career or develop the skills you need to take an opportunity in design, you will need to select a specific sector. Yes, being creative is a great first step and will take you a long way, but every sector of design, from architecture and bridge building to marketing, all have specific skill sets or software programs that you will need to learn and develop.
Whether you choose to start with the basics and are interested in the building blocks of modern electronics and want to design small sized hardware using PCB design software; or simply use a sketch pad to create animation and drawings of possible game characters, you will need to choose a design sector that interests you. You also need to view the possible career options and the available jobs, internships and opportunities that are available. Spend sufficient time on this selection process as no one wants to spend their time training and learning a new skill only to find, once they have finished, that there aren’t any viable positions in the required industry.
The Top Trending Design Sectors
These are the sectors in design that have come to the fore in recent times. Not only is there a marked increase in demand for these roles, but there is also a somewhat heightened level of prestige associated with these careers in tech, as it is seen as forward thinking and innovative. They are also those professions and careers that have arguably been most affected by the widespread development and sharing of design software and technology.
The built environment: This sector is mainly concerned with the design of bridges, roads and transport networks as well as housing and industrial buildings. However, it is not simply about the drawings and ideas of infrastructure and housing. Design in the realms of the built environment must also look to the tools and systems used in the construction phase, the marketing of the resultant properties or structures and how the structures will be maintained over time. Computer aided design Software (CAD) is a great example of a range of software that has been progressively developed over time. There is a wide range of possibilities to use, from open-source architectural visualization programs (for homes and buildings), to the 3D geometry based software (for industrial design and larger structures), and several iterations of each software has been released over time, showing the ongoing improvements and evolution.
IT and software design: Just as it says on the tin. Information technology design and software design are some of the most well paid and in demand career choices that there are. Being able to design a bespoke business app or software for specific business or production processes is one of the aspects of modern design that has come to the fore, with the increased use of the internet and an increased digital business, entertainment and social world. All of it needs user/focused software that must be conceptualized and designed. Software engineering has always been somewhat neglected and may not seem as glamorous or colorful as the other elements or sector of design. However, it is arguably at the heart of all electronic and e-based design programs, in that without the source code itself, there can be no software for design.
Electronics design: Small electrical components that fit together and create the products that we are all so familiar with, need to be designed and created. Some of these will be tiny such as the PCB or chips and semiconductors, but they too need to be designed and conceptualized to fit firstly on the PCB and then to fit into the product. In fact, it is the PCB design and manufacturing process that has become one of the main focusses of modern industrial design.
Homeware and personal electronics all need to be designed, tested and marketed, a process that is saturated with elements of design.
Game and media design: As the world of gaming has become more mainstream, the gaming and media design field has become one of the mainstays for design and innovation. Often some of the latest design and innovative IT is first tested in computer games and then released into business applications. The design of games and gaming environments is a mainstream profession and one that ranks as one of the most highly paid of all design careers.
How to build the requisite design skills
The internet and online learning have made it possible to build pretty much any type of skills and knowledge. This section provides some basic, but essential tips to be able to build the design skills that you want to be able to engage and embark on a career or profession in any of the design sectors briefly discussed above. Modern day design is all about the software that you have available and are able to afford, use and understand.
Yes, it has been noted that for creative design, you may need to already have some aspect of artistic and design flair, but a great deal of this can indeed be taught and developed as a skill if these are the sectors that you are interested in. The steps below can be implemented one at a time and upon completion you will be ensured of having acquired some of the most in-demand skills in the world of design.
Focus on finding introductory free software courses
This should be the first step in the process of sourcing the most cost-effective online learning and training course. The free introductory online course is also the best way that you can actually explore the topic or subject matter that you are interested in studying or learning further. Most of the introductory free courses will be very basic and are designed to provide a taster of the real course, which you may have to pay for. Also keep in mind that the free introductory course will not necessarily provide the design software that you need to use.
Look for a progression of courses and learning
Once you’ve done the introductory courses or training and know what it is that you want to study further, you will be able to decide on a clear path forward. Again, look for the subject matter or specific design skills that you want to gain in the form of free online open courses before you pay any fees. The availability of such free online design courses is one of the most progressive aspects of online learning and education. You will need to ensure that the software used, whilst open source and free, is actually being used in the sectors that you want to work. Free training no matter what the subject matter will not be worth the investment of your time unless the software being used will be available to you after the course and it is indeed the same software that is used in real life industry applications.
The idea is to build progressively upon the foundational knowledge and skills and work your way up to the level of skills and knowledge that will see you compete for roles that you want in the sector.
Commit time and effort to the process
You will not have a successful time in design unless you commit sufficient time and effort to your learning process and have a clear plan of action. Unless you truly commit, it is unlikely that you will either gain the practical skills you need, nor be able to progress into a career with the online learning as a springboard. It is generally accepted by those who drop out of formal higher education and training that the lack of commitment is one of the main reasons. Commit and have a process of ongoing reminders as to why you want to work in design. Learning any skills takes time and you will probably have to start at the bottom of the career ladder and work your way up. Be real about this and just keep on practicing the skills you have learnt.
Look for a design mentor
Being able to discuss your progress and the possible next step towards a sustainable career or just to develop the level of design skills that you want is a great way to keep moving forward. Look for someone in the sector that you have chosen that you can interact and communicate with. The idea is to get advice on the training that you are undertaking as well as insights to the industry that you hope to join.
Ensure that the software courses you choose are recommended and accredited
The internet is great to learn a wealth of practical and tech based skills and gain tips for various formal career and job skill requirements. However, there is so much information out there and some of it is written and presented by those who are, shall we say, less than experts in the subject matter. Thus, you need to ensure that any time spent learning and training is done so with a recommended service and knowledge provider. Furthermore, keep in mind that various professions and skills will need to meet industry standards and perhaps the trainer may need to be accredited and licensed to teach in this field.
Again, it is important to highlight that certifications and acknowledgement of the training you have completed is important. It is a way to show what you have achieved as well as providing a measurable return for the time you have spent learning the software. Ensure that (from the outset and in any introductory research as to which software to use) it is clear as to what certification can be issued after the training. If there is no accredited certification, you may want to look for another similar course/software or find a means to communicate via your CV what the course was on and how it made you more employable in this field.
Practice, practice, practice
None of the skills, practical knowledge, and theory that you learn in regard to design and innovation will be useful unless you are constantly able to practice and use them. If it is a software program that you have learnt, then ensure that you keep using it and keep abreast of all the upgrades and changes to the program or software. Being a software super user, will allow you to gain and understand all the tips and tricks to get the software working as efficiently as possible. The only way to become expert in its use and application is to practice its use on a regular and ongoing basis.
The idea that only creative people should engage in careers in marketing and advertising design and that only engineers should design electronics and PCB components is somewhat outdated. The availability of software and training materials in the online space has entirely changed the way that we learn and are able to choose and make career changes. The internet is a huge source of knowledge and one of the sectors that has arguably been most impacted and affected has been that of design. This article has clearly shown the type of design that is trending and how you can access these skills and make a career of, if this were something that you would like to do.