For much of my early career I wasn’t an RGD, nor did I give much thought to design certification. My business was growing, I had little free time and at first I questioned the value in undergoing the certification process, requiring rationales, a formal testing process and presenting before a panel of peers.
I think for many designers this is evermore the case. As our lives get busier and busier, it’s a challenge to find time for continuing education and preparing for an exam can seem particularly daunting. After all, days at work are frenetic enough and in most cases certifications have to be pursued outside of business hours and often at personal expense, so it’s easy to understand why many would hesitate at the prospect.
However, for these same reasons, going the distance to earn a certification is testament to that person's commitment to professional growth, their accountability to client needs and their willingness to adhere to ethical practices. These are powerful traits to find in an employee and a compelling difference when clients are evaluating designers and design studios.
Last December I read an article by Christopher S. Penn, a writer who adeptly conveyed similar points about the value of professional certifications. Penn provides powerful examples of how a certification can help to overcome bias when you have two similar candidates applying for a career position or client project. In design, the same holds true – even the strongest portfolios are often subjective, but certification from a leading organization can make a tangible difference by putting more objective data on the table.
Of course certification is not RGD’s only value. The Association provides countless opportunities to connect, contribute and support the design community. I’ve experienced firsthand, on countless occasions, how tremendously rewarding it is to participate with other designers and the accomplished Board of volunteer Directors that guide the Association forward.
My advice is to make an investment in yourself and your career by becoming more involved. As a certified RGD, you’ll be joining others that are just as deeply committed to delivering value through knowledge sharing, learning, advocacy and mentorship. And that’s a great reward in itself.
To find out more about becoming a Registered Graphic Designer, click here.