How to get into ID without schooling?

Hi, a few quick questions.

How would you get into industrial design without going to any ID schools? What kinds of skills would you need, what computer programs would you need to know, what is taught in school that you can teach yourself?

Where are some good resources to find ID internships or volunteer work?

I know IDSA is one good starting point for making connections, but what other options are out there?

If you were a partner in a law firm would you hire someone with out a law degree when there are lots of fresh grads pounding on the door? Would have to be one heck of a talented individual.

  1. An extremely impressive portfolio, comparable to other graduates
  2. Proven success in previous school/work
  3. Knowledge of Photoshop, Illustrator, Solid Works, Alias at a professional competency.
  4. Understanding of marketing and manufacturing principles
  5. A lot of luck

You probably won’t get much respect from most hiring professionals coming in without a degree, but, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. You’d need to be extremely self motivated.

My two cents, bite the bullet and look for a good school.

also… the connections you will gain through school if you work to connect well with the faculty will be invaluable in the future. People naturally work to take care of their own, and your faculty will fight to see you succeed.

Depends on your background. What have you been doing? Maybe get a job at a smaller to mid sized company doing whatever it was you have been doing, and then over the next 3-5 years (the time it would take you to go to school) you could possibly peak into the designers work and start to pick it up. I would suggest staying up all night practicing the things you see them doing and eventually try to participate in ideation sessions. Designers are always open to fresh ideas from outside people. Never start a sentence with, “well in the past x has alway worked, why reinvent the wheel.” Some of the best design jobs are those you create for yourself.

Ahh, I put up the question mainly because I wanted to see what options could be had. Pretty much confirmed what I thought.

I’m looking to go back to school for a second bachelor’s degree but am nearly 100% financially independent. Thus out-of-state or private schools for ID are out of the financial question (out-of-state possible, but heavily dependent on luck and enduring through 1 year of out-of-state fees, which is very risky, especially with current economic situation).

I’m in California, and the only state schools I know of which have ID are San Jose State University and Cal State Long Beach. I get the impression that SJSU is the better of the two.

Unfortunately with SJSU, they only accept engineering/science/nursing majors for second bachelor degree applicants. I figure I can declare for mechanical engineering and squeeze in a minor in Industrial Design. The only way I can conceive of getting a major in ID would be to double major (if they would let me). Anyhow I can just stick with the mechanical engineering/minor in ID, try to get REALLY good grades and network, and pray that I could get into Stanford’s product design grad program.

did you talk to their ID dept about admissions policy?
It seems most schools are flexible about stuff like that if you demonstrate the commitment…

Can you even minor in ID? And also with that, would it even be worth the extra time.

I’m really glad people are discovering ID and everything, but is anyone else starting to feel like damn, I must have wasted all that time in school when you can just take 5 classes (our minors were 5 classes or 15 credits hours), or get a degree in something completely unrelated and just start being a designer. At least when I decide I want to be a research scientist working in the area of genetic modification, I can just learn a couple software programs, microscope use and buy a white coat I’m pretty much set right?

Sorry if that sounded snarky, but most of us spent a lot of time on our educations and skill building, so you probably need to do the same to join our ranks. Once you complete the requirements you are more that welcome at our IDSA socials!

Don’t forget about scholarships, this can alleviate out of state costs.

We live in a culture that values education, and values stamps of validation.

What you truly learn and retain in school, or outside of school is up to you. I know people who have gone through 4 years of schooling and are no more informed then the day they walked in.

I know others who in a year or two have self educated, networked and are now down the road of professional success.

Bottom line is no one is going to give you a job just because you went to college, no matter your major and no matter the industry. Similarly no one will deny you completely from the professional world because you lack a certain degree. Granted their are exceptions to this (Medical fields for instance).

My suggestion, go to school. I’m on my second bachelor’s now for ID, graduated with a degree in Political Science. In the long term I think it’s the smartest use of my time and money. Just because I’m an undergrad again doesn’t mean I have to operate at the typical freshman level, I’m soaking up everything I can from classes while actively applying myself outside of class, starting to build networks, perfecting my skills and understanding of the industry, etc.

Treat it like graduate work, work twice as hard; and now that you’re more mature you’ll waste less time making the same mistakes you made going through school the first time. While other students and nursing their first hang over you’ll be building relationships with teachers, or working on your rendering techniques in the studio.

I’ll admit it was a bit of a bitter ego pill to swallow but 10 years from now, it will be irrelevant what year I graduated.

As far a schools go I seriously suggest looking at UC’s DAAP. If you are financially independent you should be able to qualify for in state tuition (about $10K) after living in state for a year.

usually, it’s the financial aid that’s not offered to 2nd degrees, things like Pell grants.
If you can find work in Ohio, you could move and qualify for in-state status…

I’ll try, although it seems like a pretty concrete block against people declaring non-engineering/science/nursing majors. I contacted the admissions office and they specifically told me which majors were okay.

There IS a minor and unfortunately it is only 1/3 of the amount of ID classes that the major is.

Not guaranteed and is harder to come by for a second degree. Maybe I should try to apply for UC anyway and see what they offer.

I feel the same about going to school for a second time. I would definitely be more focused on getting better grades, networking, and getting practical skills.

As for UC, it would be difficult to afford paying for the first year of out-of-state fees. Although I am nearly financially independent, I don’t have much money sitting around.

I do have a question though – are their paid co-op internships full-time? If that is the case, then that might be a game changer.

Correct. I just checked and the only thing I qualify for is loans. They also use Federal Stafford Loans of which I am already about halfway through the limit on. I was considering finding work in Ohio to gain in-state status, though I can’t shake the feeling that it’s going to be risky. My major (Asian Studies) has proven to be worthless in finding jobs, I’d probably be lucky to land a $30-35k/year job.

Anyway, I’d like to return to my original questions. What kind of skills/programs should I learn if I can’t go to ID school (or at least, have an undergraduate major in ID)?

Of course in an ideal world I would magically be able to conjure up a ton of money or make a plan with no flaws and 100% security that could fund my way into an out-of-state ID school/private school. That, and all the ****ing planets in the solar system can line up for me, global peace can start, the circle of life can be completed, etc etc etc. Soooo:

I’m asking these questions because I want to prepare for the possibility that I can’t go to ID school (at least, get an ID undergraduate degree).

I know that I would have to develop:

  • sketching ability
  • CAD program ability at a professional level
  • Photoshop / Illustrator
  • ??? (what other ESSENTIAL skills?)

    I feel like I’m lacking technical design skills but have the kind of mind to innovate/improve, and have the kind of people skills to persuade others to buy into my ideas. I’m more interested in function vs aesthetic in products, in sustainability, in efficiency, in profitability, in practicality, etc. I’m really getting sick of products that are full of “modern aesthetic” BS (which is nice and all, but I want to use a useful ****ing products).

One potential path I think I mentioned earlier is to get a Mechanical Engineering degree w/ an Industrial Design minor, get good grades and network, and then get into Stanford’s Product Design program. In the mean time, what kind of skills can I work on?

hey wow, i’m in pretty much the same boat as you, neoleo. it’s kind of frustrating that having a bachelor’s degree is actually a hindrance in this case.

I’m thinking of trying to do part time classes at Pasadena City College to build up a portfolio and get my feet wet, with the intent of transferring later. Apparently Pasadena is one of two community colleges in CA with a product design program. No idea what the other school is, though.

I did it. I switched careers from Art Direction to ID. I took a three week intensive course in Pro Engineer at Design Engine Education in Chicago.
I also know some Alias Studio as well as Photoshop and Illustrator. I only have an associates degree.

Your portfolio is EVERYTHING. There is no hiding talent and ideas. I found a job at a small familiy run manufacturer of furniture and lighting and I now have about thirty different products in several major retail chains. I’ve been here three years and I’m their only on staff designer. Its a great spot to have. My job is very secure and I get to let my ideas run wild. (provided they can be manufactured)

Basically I’m taking the real life crash course approach, but I’ll tell you what, I’ve learned more about how products actually get made and sold in the last three years than I ever would have learned in a design school. I can say this because I’ve interviewed fresh out of school designers for freelance work and they almost always fall short of the nuts and bolts knowledge behind product design. I don’t need high concept, I need to know how many will fit in a shipping container from China!

Cool, if you find out what the other community college is, lemme (or us) know. I’m looking for a JC to cut costs on the second bachelor’s and/or a place to help pick up basic technical design skills.

COOL! Thanks for telling us how you did it! Of course as you said, the portfolio would be the most important thing, all I have to learn now is how to use the right tools to make that portfolio. I have some cool ideas in my head that I want to eventually put in a format that is presentable to others.

I would strongly recommend Pro/E. It has very usefull features as it it one of the most robust CAD programs available. Plus, just by knowing Pro/E you can find some CAD monkey drafting gigs until you find a place you like. Type Pro/E into and you’ll see what I mean. Some are entry level and yet they still pay pretty good.

It is an incredible tool. Anything you can dream up you can create using it. It also makes creating detail drawings incredibly easy. They update themselves if you change your model. Its sick.

I recommend Design Engine, but if you can’t travel to Chicago there might be places in your area that teach it.

Grades don’t really count for much to a designer if their portfolio is crap.
I’d focus on having interesting and good projects in the portfolio.
Sometimes you may get a lousy grade for not finishing something in time for the grading but it could end up being your most prized prtfolio piece.

If yopur interested in sustainability, design for the third world and functionality over style then you should have a look at San Francisco State.

I’d reccomend Solidworks vs. ProE
it’s cheaper to buy, you can teach yourself to use it, it’s more common in ID, and you don’t need to get a rendering package - Photoworks is included and more than sufficient.