Mid-Career, new to ID, advice please

Greetings! Looking for advice on school options for someone in my situation. I just turned 35 and have worked in a variety of fields but I’ve always been keen on ID(product design) and considering it as a career. I’m wary of forking over a huge sum for a masters degree but full immersion and the time/knowledge to build a good portfolio seems to make sense to me. I don’t have a design background, nor any design or art-specific education. I do have a few original design examples and artwork for perhaps a small portfolio. But looking for a program that isn’t precluding people without a design/art background/education.
Waiting to find out more about SCAD’s MA program and a few others.

Any advice? Any MA or MFA programs with a good many mature/midcareer folks? Is there a less expensive and relatively expedient way to get started in the field? Thanks in advance for any relevant advice.

not really any shortcuts I know of - I think a few people try a backdoor with a ProE certificate, but once a cad-jockey, it’s tough to get the rest of the skill set part time.
Best to take the plunge - count on a 3+ year grad program (check into PRATT too) or a 3.5 - 4 year bachelors.
slightly longer bachelors is more oriented to nitty gritty design work, and better prepares you for that 1st job than grad school.

Having no previous design experience, i started a BA Prod Des course at 31 and graduated last July. Had to work and study part time to fund it but it was worth it - I am now a design engineer at a well known company in UK.

I was accepted onto my course without interview or portfolio but I think that that had more to do with the fact that I was paying fees as an overseas student rather than an EU student.

My advice is to find a good course that is receptive to mature students with life experience, and that offer a good placement scheme and have good links to industry. I did at least one live project per year (one of which was taken on by the project sponsor) and spent 2 days a week for a year at a small consultancy - all of which was instrumental in helping me get my job.

PS - is SCAD - Savannah College? If so - on of my former lecturers is working there now - he used to run the MDes course at my uni

Thanks for the replies and advice. Yeah, SCAD is in Savannah. Peedub, glad things turned out nicely for you.


I would say one thing. If you are looking to get into product design, you may want to look at a few other options like NC State, Auburn, ect. SCAD is a great school but tends to be more abstract and artsy than others. On the opposite side, Ga Tech is a great school as well but tends to be more Engineering focused. Auburn and NC State are more in the middle of the two and really focus on methodology and process of good design.

Regardless of where you go, I would recommend a Bachelors over a Masters. Many times, people that go in with a Masters degree in ID but have little experience are looked at no differently than someone with little experience and a Bachelors. They are viewed as being over-qualified alot of times.

good advice.

assuming from the OP’s screenname, i would look into NC state. i know NC residents pay incredibly cheap tuition. on the other hand, i’ve worked with 3 AU grads in my career and have been impressed at their skills.

Thanks for the advice folks. I assume a bachelors (in the US) will generally take two years since I already have a degree. I will look into NCSTATE. Yeah, the tuition there would be next to nothing compared to SCAD.

if you have no design or art training your, looking at 3 years minimum for any degree, including bachelors.

Since you are coming into the design field at age 35, it is Essential that you get experience as soon as possible. University of Cincinnati has a fabulous design program and also has a terrific coop program,which will beef up your resume with good, guaranteed experience.