Design might be the love of your life and the thing you are really talented at but very often most of us come to a point where no matter how much we love what we do, we need to take a break from it.
Every now and then we need to diversify or simply change our routine. If you want to branch into other careers because you are fed up with being only a designer, or to improve your career prospects, here are 5 of the many alternative careers to consider.
All these careers are Web-related and presumably it will be easier for you to make the switch but of course, if you are totally fed up with HTML, CSS, .PNG, and the like, you can make a U-turn and go into a totally unrelated area. Here the choice is basically endless and it all depends on the skills and talents you have.
1. Web Developer
Probably the most obvious alternative for a Web designer is a Web developer. Of course, the two are very different and if you hate code, Web development is hardly your best bet.
Web development is very close to Web design and I do believe any designer must have some coding skills, or at least have some basic familiarity with Web technologies (PHP, Ajax, etc.) outside pure design because this knowledge makes you a better designer. In fact, I know many people who are half designers, half programmers and this is a really winning combination.
Still, there is a difference between being familiar with Web programming and becoming a full-time Web developer. If you aren’t comfortable with coding, then becoming a Web developer will be a torture for you (and for the rest of the team, if they have to put up with your poor code), so you’d better pick something else from the list.
2. Web Master
Another very closely related career is to become a Web master. I don’t claim my definition of Web master is the most precise one but basically when you are a Web master, you need to know design, have some coding skills, be familiar with databases and operating systems, and have some knowledge of hardware, so that you can manage a site.
Additionally, sales and marketing skills are also welcome because most likely you will have to deal with the promotion of the site as well. If you can write, this is also a huge plus because you will be able to write Web content as well. In fact, a Web master is just a bit of everything Web related plus some business skills. It’s a perfect match for somebody who doesn’t want to stick to one Web area only.
If you feel that programming isn’t for you and even becoming a Web master is too technical, you can consider less technical careers, such as (Internet) marketing. There are many marketers who have almost no design, coding, or any technical skills and more or less some of them are doing well, so being a former designer/techie isn’t an absolute must for an Internet marketer.
Of course, your design/technical background will always help you as a marketer, so the fact that you come from a Web-related area is an advantage. In fact, I think that a good Internet marketer must have at least some knowledge about Web technologies to do his or her job in the best possible way.
Many people who switch to marketing from a technical profession find it a much easier area but this is only at first sight. Still, when you know the technical aspects of the Web, after you learn the marketing fundamentals, it is easier to be a marketer than if you start this from scratch.
4. Sales Person
For many (technical) people there isn’t much of a difference between sales and marketing but this certainly isn’t so. You do need to have marketing skills in order to be a good sales person but you also need many other skills – above all the ability to work with people. In marketing you also have to deal with people but there are some positions (i.e. the more analytical ones) where this isn’t a huge part of your job, while in sales you are dealing with humans almost all the time.
Many good marketers aren’t good at sales, so the fact that you have a talent for marketing isn’t a guarantee you will become a good sales person. However, similarly to marketing, the fact that you know the technical aspects of what you sell is an advantage and for you the change in careers might not be an abrupt one. The best sales persons in software/hardware/computers in general I can think of are former techies turned sales, not people who just got a business degree and went to sell computers because this is hot.
Believe me, there are tons of Web content and other stuff to be written and if you can write, writing can be a very lucrative career. If you have come to design from literature or arts, it might be easier for you to write as opposed to when you come from maths/sciences but this isn’t fixed in stone – there are many people who are good both at maths/science and literature/arts.
If you decide to become a writer, most likely you will start with something around design and Web technologies in general because presumably this is what you know well. Later you can branch into Web copy and more business-oriented topics because generally these pay better, though in my opinion they are also more boring.
These five careers I am suggesting definitely don’t end the list of potential careers for designers. You could also consider becoming a usability expert, a support rep (another career that is an intersection of technical skills and ability to work with people), or a manager, to name a few. You could also consider developing the skills needed for these alternative careers but don’t give up design completely.
These suggestions for alternative careers will be especially useful to newbies – i.e. everybody who is relatively new to design and doesn’t feel like committing to it at 100 percent and to veterans, who feel that even though they are great at design, it is time to move on. On the other hand, if you feel design is the thing you are born for, this is great – there is no need to think for alternatives.
The point is to try this and that till you find the best place for you. I can think of many unhappy designers and developers who are stuck into positions they hate simply because they don’t have the drive to experiment, so don’t make the same mistake!