Go to school or “work my way up”?

I am a 31 year old assistant director at an art gallery and am looking for some no nonsense advice on how to approach a career change. I have a bachelor in communication with an art minor. I have been on a serious search to figure out where my talents lie, etc. and it seems that I.D. could be a good match. I believe I would be an excellent designer with my only weak point being a less than fabulous ability to sketch (which I’m confident I could apply myself to and learn quickly through classes and practice).

So, my question is this:
Should I spend the next 8-9 months attempting to build my portfolio to get into a master’s program (by working part time/volunteering at an I.D. firm or some such), then spend a significant amount of money on a degree and in lost income…OR is it feasible to “work my way up from the bottom” of the field without a degree? I am not looking for a shortcut, just the most prudent way for someone at my somewhat advanced age who really doesn’t want to spend money instead of making money for the next few years just to end up in a slightly better position. Any advice anyone can give is greatly appreciated!

No, you must have a degree to call yourself an Industrial Designer. IDSA won’t allow you to be a professional member without one, and it’s extremely unlikely that someone will hire you without one (even at the bottom) unless your portfolio rocks.

I don’t know why but that made me laugh out loud. It is harder and harder to get a job in ID without an ID degree. I only know of a handful of people that have been able to do this, and not being able to get into the IDSA has really stung them, year of therapy.

Seriously though, I know of many that have tried this and failed. It’s hard to keep your motivation up. Being in a peer group at the same skill level is the advantage of school.

Do your self a favor, it you are serious ID is for you (and trust me, it a rough field to just toy with) then enroll in a program, I would recommend UC.

Its good to have yo back from the DL Deez.

If you want a top notch design job, you will need to go to school to learn some practical skills. Sketching, computer software, ideation… It is a really tough field without the education to get a job. You may not need another degree but the skills are nearly impossible to learn on your own. Design offices are so fast paced, I can’t imagine anyone will have the time to teach you from scratch.

Thanks so much for the wonderful advice. DEEZ, thank you especially for taking the time to give me the links to all of the threads which answered just about all of my questions…very selfless!