Expert column by Prof. Nidhip Mehta, Head, School of Design, Pearl Academy

A common question I am asked by parents of prospective design students is “What are the career options in design?” I have a feeling that what they want to hear is a list of high-paying professional titles that look good on a resumé like Chief Design Officer or Creative Head. While these are certainly real titles that many designers have, they are not the only option. I think the unspoken concern behind this question, especially among Indian parents, is whether a hard-working and earnest graduate will be rewarded with career success in an increasingly competitive market. We have all seen many situations where this doesn’t happen, where students excel in academics but are unable to get lucrative jobs because of competition.

The good news is that in the design sector, this is not the case. There is enough scope for a designer if he/she is patient, hardworking, and willing to look at more definitions of what ‘success’ actually means. There is always a great need for new ideas and innovation, which is the bread and butter of design.

Freelance: a lucrative option

Most designers, for example, are willing to forgo the stability of a job to be a freelancer, or to start their own practice. I estimate that half of the graduates at my own institution choose this option, even though it means more risk and less initial return. Why is that? It’s because design is one field where many professionals find satisfaction in doing their own thing, creatively. They find that if they are patient and smart, they can very shortly reap the benefits of entrepreneurship. So yes, a great option for design graduates is to start one’s own practice. But that’s not the only way.

Design firms offering job security

It is also true that many graduates choose a job in a design firm, not just because they want job security, but also because they are eager to learn as an apprentice by working with more experienced professionals. The beauty of the design industry is that most jobs are with small firms that have less than 15 employees. So, a young designer can be exposed to a variety of working environments.

Corporate jobs for high financial gains

There is also the option of corporate jobs, which has its own financial advantages. These jobs also expose young designers to big, high-profile projects. These corporates can be of two general categories- a) that design and manufacture things themselves, and have a solid internal design team, and b) that hire other designers but need an in-house designer to manage and control the brand image.

So, in a nutshell, designers can work for a corporate, a design firm, or for themselves. There are pros and cons to each, but none is necessarily better than the other. In fact, one can do all three types in his/her career at different times. The important thing is to find the option that works best for you.

In this special column, Prof. Nidhip Mehta, Head, School of Design, Pearl Academy shares his expert advice with Careers360 on growing career options in the Design domain. He discusses about different options that design graduates can take up. The Professor also explains why there is a great need for new ideas and innovation.

As first appeared on careers 360. on 31st May 2018

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