Forgot your username or password?
Ed. note: This opinion piece was originally published on AIGA Central Pennsylvania’s site. The perspective expressed is solely that of the author. AIGA encourages commentary, discussion and debate among members—share your thoughts in the comments.
This summer, I received my Certified Associate of Project Management (CAPM) from the Project Management Institute (PMI). It’s an important credential in the field and is notorious for being tough to pass (don’t even try if you’re not at all familiar with PMI). I was incredibly proud of the achievement, and it got me thinking about the hot issue of certification in design.
We’ve all heard the joke about a client saying that their nephew could just make them a logo—but we’re also wary of the idea of certifying designers. I’ll agree that a certification isn’t inherently valuable—you need to have the work to back it up. I believe AIGA, the oldest and largest organization for the profession, is best positioned to certify designers. But what would that look like?
First off, AIGA membership should not be dependent upon certification—we seek to include rather than exclude, but we also want to strengthen our members’ skills. Membership, therefore, should be a pathway to certification because it should both build members’ skill-sets through programming and showcase the value of professionalism.
Like membership, credentials show others (colleagues, managers, potential employers and clients) that we are serious about the work we do. Design is a job and promoting that mindset leads to better relationships and work for all of us.
One of the primary roles of a leading professional group ought to be setting and promoting industry best practices. If we want to be taken seriously as the leader of design standards, we must publicly hold ourselves to those high standards. These standards should not only include skills like typography and page layout, but also business practices and project management basics.
It is our responsibility to ensure that design programs are appropriately preparing students for the real world (we’ve seen too often that they’re not) and encourage professionals to keep sharpening their skills as the industry changes.
While a knowledge-based test is relevant for ensuring an understanding of core principles, this alone shouldn’t be the stick with which we measure candidates. As an organization with industry leaders at the national level of governance, we’re more than capable of determining what should be tested and what should be measured.
I received my CAPM because PMP certification requires more than three years of experience (the CAPM has less strict experience requirements, including counting educational hours instead of just professional projects). Likewise, design certification ought to be leveled based on years of experience and perhaps even more specific types of design (e.g., product versus interaction design). Starting with a Certified Associate of Design and Certified Design Professional would be a solid starting point for AIGA.
I’ve heard designers try to explain why clients should trust them in terms of the trust that’s inherent in many other professions, like doctors or architects. And I don’t disagree with the analogy. But if we want that kind of trust, we have to earn it—both from our clients, by proving our value in the work we do, and from our peers. And honestly, if a profession like hairstyling requires licensing, why shouldn’t we embrace setting industry standards for a craft we believe can change the world?
My project management certification gives me a greater sense of pride in what I do. Studying for the test inspired me in the discipline I practice, and gave me fresh perspectives for my real, everyday work. I’m happy to be a member of PMI, but I’m more invested in AIGA and I want to see us do the next big thing in our space. Seeing my colleagues recognized for the very real skills that separate them from mere hobbyists would be deeply satisfying.
I’m the communications chair for Central PA AIGA, an editor alum and lender with Kiva (a microfinance lending program) and a freelance writer.
Originally from Texas, I share my home—complete with a library that includes a personal copy of the OED—with my rescue mutt, Paparazzi. Outside of work, I spend timedefending
the validity of the Oxford comma, reading everything I can and rogue editing
for the hell of it.
This agreement allows you to create customized terms and conditions for your design engagements.
Section: Tools and Resources -
Part of the exclusive “Financial Metrics” series with David C. Baker, this webinar gave attendees a solid understanding of how to make better decisions about design firm growth.
Section: Events and Competitions -
business plans, finances, new business development, studio management
Seeking front-end WEB DEVELOPER for PAID INTERNSHIPMars Design
New York, New YorkDecember 6 2013
Mykita Showroom, New York
November 27, 2013
LPforDesign (The LivingPrinciples)
RT @sustainbrands: The SB Holiday Gift Guide: 10 Gifts That Truly Keep On Giving http://t.co/fU1KUZNDuy
18 hours ago
LPforDesign (The LivingPrinciples)
Charting a Course for Sustainable Design http://t.co/hWO8Nyuqjy
19 hours ago
Willy St. Co-op T-Shirt
Rudolph de Harak