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How To Become A Graphic Designer Without A Degree

If you’re looking for a side hustle opportunity that is going to give you the chance to be creative, graphic design is a great choice. Read on for all the details on how to become a graphic designer without a degree. 

This varied career is another in-demand skill that businesses are willing to pay a lucrative sum for.

You will need qualifications to get started, but you’ll find many free online courses available.

Here, we’ll look at what graphic designers do, the pros and cons and how to get started with this side hustle opportunity.

How To Become A Graphic Designer Without A Degree

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What is a Graphic Designer?

Graphic designers are basically visual storytellers. They are responsible for creating graphics for websites, advertisements, logos and a wide range of other types of media.

As well as creating images, they also specialize in fonts, print designs and colors.

They are very creative and usually work from a brief for each client. As well as the actual design of the graphics, a graphic designer also has other responsibilities.

These include meeting clients, creating design briefs, working with a range of media platforms and working within a team.

What Kind of Jobs Can A Graphic Designer Do?

Although professional graphic designers often work full-time in the marketing dept of large companies,  if you are on this post about how to become a graphic designer without a degree, I’m going to assume you want to freelance. 

Freelancing means that you are not an employee of any one company and can do piece-meal jobs for a variety of businesses and brands, 

Consider the following opportunities that require design skills:

 Pinterest Virtual Assistant

Designer for small, “mom and pop” businesses and churches

Designer for non-profits, schools and community events 

Event promotions 

Social media marketer

Selling Your Designs On Etsy

If you know you want to get into graphic design but don’t really want to work for someone else you can start a business creating and selling your designs on Etsy. 

It’s really easy (and free!) to start an Etsy shop and you can get your products in front of millions of people. 

Some of the things you can sell on Etsy include:



Greeting Cards

All kinds of printables 

There are people making thousands a month selling their digital designs on Etsy so starting your own Etsy printables business can be one of the best ways to become a graphic designer without a degree. 

If you are interested in starting your own store selling your own work, here are some posts to help you:

Starting An Etsy Shop Checklist PDF {Free printable}

How To Start An Etsy Store Successfully

51 Best Selling Printables on Etsy

How To Become A Freelance Graphic Designer

Are you thinking of becoming a freelance graphic designer? It’s an exciting and challenging career, but it takes a lot of hard work to make it successful.

Freelancers set their own hours and work on different projects for clients. You can find freelance graphic design work on Fiverr or Upwork. 

Although the pay not be great in the beginning, if you can create a brand for yourself and build a fantastic portfolio of your work, you can make a great living this way. 

Here are some tips to help you get started as a freelance graphic designer:

First, you need to develop your skills and create a portfolio that showcases your best work.

Next, you need to find clients and build relationships with them.

Finally, be prepared to market yourself and promote your services. 

If you’re willing to put in the effort, freelance graphic design can be a rewarding career.

What are the advantages of being a graphic designer? 

Like any career, there are pros and cons of being a graphic designer. The pros include:

Great for creative types

A career in graphic design is great for creative types. It requires a lot of creativity and you can even potentially influence future products and designs with your creations.

 No two jobs will be the same

You can expect to get lots of different jobs, from creating a marketing poster to designing invitations or brochures. This provides a great level of variety, ideal for those who don’t enjoy doing the same thing day in and day out.

Plenty of work opportunities

 You’ll find there are lots of opportunities out there too. Brands are constantly looking for graphic designers to help them generate memorable, attention-grabbing images.

Even places you wouldn’t think of, like churches, need someone to create flyers and ads for them. 

The pay is great

If you’re looking to make a decent income from a side hustle, becoming a graphic designer is definitely one of the best opportunities if you have the right skills.

Disadvantages of becoming a Graphic Designer

Creative constraint

While graphic designers are, by nature creators,  you may not necessarily get the chance to be as creative as you’d like. 

You’ll need to create graphics based upon client specifications. So, at times you may need to work to strict guidelines. This can really limit your creativity.

Unstable Income

Your income as a graphic designer,  like most side hustles, can be unstable. You’ll earn different amounts of money throughout the year, making it a potentially stressful career option if your family relies on your income for essentials. 

High Startup Costs

You’ll also face a lot of start-up costs, especially when you take into account the costs of training and software you’re going to need.

You will need a photo editing software and a good computer with a lot of disc space. Many graphic designers like to work from two screens. 

You will also need to continuously train in the latest techniques and software that is released.

Bear in mind that the disadvantages mentioned above relate solely to freelance graphic designers.

Many professional designers get employed full-time in the marketing dept of companies so they would have a completely different experience vis-a-vis things like stable income and start-up costs.  

How to get started as a graphic designer

If you’ve decided graphic design is the best side hustle for you, it’s time to get started.
You don’t need a typical degree to get into this career.

However, you will need some qualifications. It’s a good idea to start by taking the free online courses in graphic design.

Free Online Graphic Design Courses

Canva Design School

Canva is an amazing graphic design tool that lets lay-people (like me) create beautiful images. They also have a free design school that has some awesome courses such as graphic design basics and social media mastery. 


Canva’s big competitor in the amateur design World, PicMonkey, also has some great information and tutorials on design. 

Applecart Lane

Join this free graphic design training where you’ll learn 30 graphic design tips in just 30 minutes.

Alison is a great platform that offers free courses on just about everything! They have a great graphic design course that takes approx 2-3 hours to complete. 

Courses description: Start the course today and learn about the theory and practice of graphic design, how text and images can be used effectively to create an impact and convey a message to a specific audience.

Invest in graphic design software and tools 

You will need to invest in the right tools and software in order to launch your graphic design business. 

Most graphic designers use powerful computers like Mac desktop computers with Adobe Photoshop in addition to other software. 

Once you have the knowledge and skills you need, you can start offering your services. Market the business online, targeting businesses who may need help with their graphics.

As you can see, it’s pretty easy to get started with graphic design. There are few major start-up costs to worry about and it’s a service that’s going to be in demand for many years.

Just remember to do your research before getting started and take as many online courses as you can.

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