I just want to take a few minutes to give you kind of a shorty style episode and share with you my thoughts on the big question. And that question is I’m sure you’ve had it, or you’ve wondered, or you’ve heard this posed to you…Do you need a college degree to be successful in web design?
I am so excited to share some thoughts on this. This is a completely kind of raw and transparent episode. I’m going to simply share my initial thoughts with whatever comes out of my head because I’m super passionate about this topic.

In this episode:

00:00 – Introduction
03:30 – Personal story
06:05 – For certain industries
07:27 – Colleges keeping up
09:05 – Online courses
10:38 – Being asked to teach
14:16 – Employee or entrepreneur
16:07 – Staying out of debt
17:59 – Course suggestions
21:33 – Final thoughts

Featured links mentioned:

Episode #184 Full Transcription

Josh 0:00
Hello, friends. Welcome into the podcast episode 184. And this one, I just want to take a few minutes to give you kind of a shorty style episode and share with you my thoughts on the big question. And that question is I’m sure you’ve had it or you’ve wondered, or you’ve heard this posed to you? Do you need a college degree to be successful in web design?

Josh 1:49
I am so excited to share some thoughts on this. And this is a completely just kind of raw and transparent episode. I do not have notes in front of me like I typically do with solo episodes to keep me on track. I’m just going to simply share my initial thoughts with whatever comes out of my head because I’m super passionate about this topic. Because I am not a college person. I am not an academic by any stretch of the imagination. And if you have followed me for a while, you’ve likely heard me talk about my thoughts on this.

Josh 2:20
But I wanted to do an episode specifically geared towards this. And this was actually the idea of this episode stemmed off of a recent interview. Or when I was on a panel recently on Divi chat, which is a video show and podcasts that I’ve been a part of for a couple years, a few years now. I was on Divi chat Episode 237, highly recommend checking that out after this one, because I was on a panel with a few other guys talking about this topic. So you’ll get my insight and then their insight as well. If you check that out, it’ll of course be linked in the show notes for this episode at Josh halda. CO slash 184.

Josh 2:54
But the idea of college and traditional like higher ed in academia and web design, this is fascinating, because you’re likely wondering is particularly if you’re early on, especially if you’re feeling impostor syndrome, which I just covered recently. You’re probably like, who am I to build websites and be a web designer and have a web design business? If I don’t have any formal education? Well, I am here to tell you the short answer to this. Do you need a college degree to be successful in web design?

Josh 3:22
No. That is the good news. All right. Thanks for joining. I’ll see everybody and I’m just getting, we’re gonna keep on going because this is important. Now I say no, pretty starkly and confidently because of my path and my story. Although I do have a little bit of college education. But I’ll share that it’s not higher ed necessarily. I’ll I’ll share what my thoughts on that.

Josh 3:44
But I say that also confidently, because virtually everyone I know. And I know a lot of people now in web design and web entrepreneurship of all places in their journey in all levels of professionalism and low levels of size of businesses and endeavors. I can tell you, I don’t know, I don’t know of I know one person that went traditionally to a higher ed, college education, and is running a business or some sort of online entrepreneurial journey in web design, which is super good news for you if you don’t want to go hundreds of 1000s of dollars in debt to learn to learn this trade. Really good news.

Josh 4:31
Now for those of you who may have some college behind you or a hole or you’ve been through this, I don’t want you to feel you know, like out of place or stupid for doing that because you can still take a lot of value from higher education, and it can still translate to web design in the real world. And you’ll hear more about that in that Divi chat episode to be chat episode 237. But for the for the more the more likelihood that you’re listening to this wondering about this or having not gone to college, I’m kind of talking to you, because this is really good news.

Josh 5:05
Now, I mentioned, I had a little bit of college behind me, I, if you don’t know, I went to a community college and just did night classes for a couple years here in Columbus, Ohio. When I got started in web design, if you don’t know my story, I was actually doing graphic design for bands and my professional network and my personal network. And then the church I was helping out with asked if I would be interested in taking over their website. And this was a dream weaver website back in like 2010. And I was like, Sure, I’ll give it a go. But I don’t know anything about web design.

Josh 5:36
So they actually paid for a dream weaver class at the community college here in Columbus that I took. So that was my very first experience into web design, it actually was a good class. So it’s interesting, because while I’m pretty, I hold a very firm position against most higher education, and particularly good at going into hundreds of 1000s of dollars in debt in certain industries. Now, do I want my doctor going through a self made course or YouTube videos to figure out a surgery?

Josh 6:05
No, that’s there’s, I think, higher education for certain industries like medical like, like, I don’t know, lawyer law, whatever, there’s probably, you know, certain industries that you absolutely probably should go to college, but web design, know, for a lot of reasons. However, that said, I did take a lot of value from that course, that I took in my community college. And when I took that course, I found out that there was another course trying to remember, it was Dreamweaver. And then I found out that there was a program because I was so heavily involved in graphic design. At the time, there was a program for more graphic design, it was called digital design and graphics, and it covered Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Flash, at the time, rip a buddy, anybody remember flash.

Josh 6:53
So I decided to get enrolled in that program. And I did it very slowly, I did it. I was working odd jobs and side jobs, I paid for it myself and, and did night school for a couple years, learning more digital design and graphics. The only other web design course I took was the CSS course, which was, it was good at the time. But I’ll tell you, my gosh, it was so bloated, in the pace was so slow, and it was so out of date already back then. I mean, I took that course I think in 2012. It wasn’t the last courses I took before finishing that program.

Josh 7:27
But it was always sort of dated already, which is a big reason why I don’t think you need a higher ed degree to be successful in web design. And that’s honestly the main reason they can’t keep up. They cannot keep up with a fast paced industry like web design, think about it practically, trends and things that are happening right now in web design. By the time that gets filtered into the school system, which is usually already a year behind before it even infiltrates the staff or whatever, then they need to come up with a program, once they can go through their board of directors and all that bureaucratic bullshit, basically, to get something out. Now, suddenly, they need to put it in play.

Josh 8:07
And then once somebody writes the course, and gives the information out and figures everything out, then it needs to go into a book. And even though I don’t know how many real books are out there in college, I’m sure there’s still a lot, right? Sure, a lot of digital or digital now. But by the time it gets circulated into a curriculum into a book, and then it needs to go into the actual program, and then get dished out to students. And they have to find teachers and work it in with their other programs and their budgets, you’re looking at at least two to three years before something gets into the school program.

Josh 8:40
And a I am not an academic person, so I don’t work for a college or anything. So I can only say that based off of my experience and going through courses. So if there is somebody here who has been through a college and you feel like they actually can do it a lot sooner, let me know. I’m happy to be corrected, but I don’t think I will be and this is just based off my experience. Going through a little bit of community college, it was so behind.

Josh 9:05
That’s one reason I love taking online courses. And I obviously, it’s easy for me to say as an online course creator, but I take online courses for this very reason because I want to know what’s happening right now. And I want to get the latest information, the latest trends, and I personally want to hear from somebody who has been through it. That’s another big beef with higher ed when it comes to creative and professional services like this.

Josh 9:33
Most people teaching in a college are going to be people who either had a job and are doing it like on the side or they’re just teachers like a full time teacher that’s doing a lot of different subjects. Now, I love teachers. I am a teacher and in a sense, and I think it’s really important. But if you want to build a successful six figure web design agency, I would not listen from somebody pure really who just reads things out of a textbook and just kind of regurgitate or regurgitate it to you, I want to know from somebody who did it.

Josh 10:07
And that’s why I take online courses. And that’s why I found that online courses shared by people who are in the business, or have just got through a decade or a season of beat of doing something successfully do the best people to learn from, and they’re gonna, they’re not going to give you any of the fluff. And I’ll tell you this, and again, this is just I have no notes in front of me. So I’m just this is we’re just spitting here, we’re going for it.

Josh 10:30
So it’s a little jumbled and all over the place. That’s why but when i Okay, so I told you, I took that CSS class and community college right? Years later, my professor in that class, it was a really cool dude, hockey guy, too. So I liked him a little douchey, kind of a douchey. Guy, I don’t think it listen to this. But sorry, if you’re listening, sorry, but that’s just the vibe I got.

Josh 10:51
Anyway, where was I? He reached out on LinkedIn, and saw that I had a work anniversary with my agency and said, Hey, I, you know, I saw that you had, you’ve been doing this for a while since you graduated. It’s really cool to see. He said, I’m considering rolling WordPress, into our curriculum and wanting to know if you’d be interested in a teaching a class at the community college. And I thought it was really interesting. I was like, well, first of all was honored.

Josh 11:17
So I was like, let me look into it, I’ll be happy to come into me. And we’ll, we’ll check this out, see if it’s a good fit. And he handed me the largest stack of papers in books and a bunch of different like CDs with for me like actual CDs with information on them. For me to review, it was like, you know, like, in the movies, when a lawyer sits down like a stack of papers, like, that’s what it was like, he was just like, it was like, boom, on the desk.

Josh 11:48
He’s like, Okay, here’s everything we’re thinking about doing. And I was like, I am not taking this home. For one, I’m gonna need to get a frickin wheel barrel to take this out to my car. And because it’s, of course, on a college campus where there’s no closed parking anywhere. And I just remember thinking, like, I told him, I was like, Okay, so I’m not gonna have time to go through all this. There’s no way.

Josh 12:10
But what that showed me was that it was, well, first of all was on paper, and even like the WordPress dashboard, graphics, they had looked, I mean, at that time, again, it was like three years, at least, I actually, I think what he showed me was WordPress, from like, 2000, like eight or something like that. But it was so fluffy, there was so much stuff that no one needed to know. Or you could teach in a much quicker pace and a much quicker manner that’s effective.

Josh 12:37
So long story short on that one, the additional thing that I realized was what they were going to pay for me to do a semester of teaching like a whole summer. I mean, I could have done a one page website and got that much money. It was like, it was like 1200 bucks or something like that. I was like, I, there’s no way I’m going to do that I could literally sell one of my course bundles. And then that be it.

Josh 13:02
So I pass on that opportunity. And it also reaffirmed why I love teaching at scale, and why I love teaching online. But all that to say, it was so fluffy, my gosh, it was so fluffy. And I almost felt bad. I was like if they roll this out, I’m going to feel terrible. Like I have my WordPress Divi beginners course, that in the on the WordPress side of thing, and under five modules covers everything you need to know to be comfortable with WordPress, whereas that would have taken a whole summer and I think somebody may potentially be more confused.

Josh 13:35
So extremely fluffy is is what you’re going to find with a lot of higher ed education. And I just want to, I want to come back and say, again, I’m not completely against all higher ed education, particularly depending on the industry. But in web design, you are going to get fluff, you’re going to get taught from somebody who probably isn’t in it or probably hasn’t, you know, been successful themselves in web design business. And you’re gonna get a lot of quite frankly, just useless information that’s going to take you way longer to get through than somebody who’s going to take you from point A to point B. All right, there you go. Let’s go. I’d definitely more about that. And I think you listening are probably more about that, too.

Josh 14:16
Now, there is another situation though, in my community college experience where I took an illustrator class, and my professor in that class was a full time graphic designer for like a local, pretty prominent advertising agency here in Columbus, Ohio. And he taught nights at the school for extra money. He was actually really cool. I really enjoyed learning from him because he was in it. But this leads me to another interesting point with this, because he was in it. He was an employee. And this is a big, big point when it comes to higher education.

Josh 14:51
Higher Ed, and this was reaffirmed to me on that TV chat Episode Episode 237 Because we all came to this conclusion, based off our different experience Higher Ed is there to make you an employee, a plan, employable person. You go to college to get a job, you go to learn a trade or learn something in the new get a job. I’m in the business of teaching people how to create their own business and to create jobs.

Josh 15:20
So there is a big distinction. And that’s where like, Are there college and higher ed programs that might be suited for you, if you want to be a web designer, like at an agency, perhaps, I still think it’s going to take you way longer, I would still go through online courses from professionals who you know, like and trust and in jive with and then you can learn from them, and they get your portfolio out there and start making real world connections. That’s what I would do.

Josh 15:44
But that is where college comes into play is it will make you a an employable person. So my professor in this night class, it was super cool, really cool guy. I wish I remember his name because I’d love looking back up. But and he was a great graphic designer. And he was really good with Illustrator. And actually, I learned a lot from him. So in that case, like, in a way, I don’t regret my community college experience at all.

Josh 16:07
Now, had I gone hundreds of 1000s of dollars into debt and gone higher ed, I’d probably feel much different. Because quite frankly, one reason my family and I are about to move into a new build home. And a lot of my family is like how are you guys? You know, what do you do again? Well, how do you afford this? It’s because we don’t have any debt. I have zero college debt. And I’m not saying that boastfully but I’m saying that is a crippling, crippling thing that so many people have gone through.

Josh 16:36
I mean, I know. I know somebody in my extended family, who was like $300,000 in debt with two different college degrees, and might at a salary position make 70,000 or 80,000. So that’s going to take a long time, maybe he’ll make six figures, but that’s probably going to be a couple of decades, I can teach you how to make six figures in less than a year or two if you really want. So that’s where it’s like, my gosh, that’s my big beef with higher ed.

Josh 17:05
And there’s a lot of other components to college that I understand the draw as far as like social and go into a school and enjoying that time, well, I get all that. But if you don’t have parents to pay for that, be careful. And again, in web design, this is why I just can’t recommend enough learning from people who are in it or who have just got done like building something successful or not are sharing how to do it. That’s why I have my courses. But I’m not the only one. I have a lot of colleagues that have courses and more and more people are, are doing things online at all different levels, whether they’re, you know, a no name entrepreneur who’s just a niche kind of person, or if it’s somebody like I’m going through one of Amy Porterfield courses right now and list building, who was you know, she’s a legend. She’s also coming up next on the podcast. Can you believe it? So excited?

Josh 17:59
Anyway, I’m going through a course by Amy Porterfield. I’m going through I’ve gone through and have another course that I’m going to be doing from Pat Flynn, one of my colleagues, Jimmy Rose, who was just recently on the podcast, he has a course on Zapier that I went through, I love these online courses from people who are in it because you’d get no fluff. It’s just the goods. And you’re going to learn what you need to learn point A to point B, go make some money implement.

Josh 18:24
So those are some of my thoughts as far as why you do not need thank God, a high six figure multi six figure in debt degree to be a successful web designer, especially from the business side, will you learn a lot about the tech side of things maybe, yeah, but it’s going to be a little dated. Just remember that luckily, like my illustrator class, like Illustrator, the core in Photoshop, and some of these tools, they don’t change that much the core of them you got like a good five years that you can teach on something for changes. But some of the other stuff maybe web design, in particular, like in Divi is the same way.

Josh 19:03
My Divi course is three years old, but I do update it when something is new that needs to be updated or revamped. But the core is still there for a little while. But there’s so many things that are outdated and best practices and trends, especially I think trends are are a real, real big one. Because you want generally trends are going to change annually or every two to three years. So that’s why like design trends and even certain strategies and marketing because like with the amount of social media channels that are opening up now, like can you imagine getting a marketing degree in higher ed right now? How the heck could they keep up with it when things are changing and marketing are super fast? Same thing with web design.

Josh 19:42
So yeah, that’s kind of my my main beef and again, I want to say this one final time. I am not 100% against higher ed in college, depending on the degree again, if it’s a doctor, if it’s something that is you know, a degree is like the number one thing that’s going to get you a job and you want a job, then by all means, go for it. But web design, luckily, my friend, I’m here to tell you, you don’t need it. Thank goodness.

Josh 20:12
You could go $100,000 into debt and a higher ed program and come out of that, and be ready to get a job as basically a junior web designer, and then you’ll probably start at 25 to 50,000. Somewhere in there per year. You go through my bundle, which is all my web design courses that teach you how to build websites and be a professional, well rounded web designer, start your business, grow your business and build recurring income with a website, maintenance plan, and more and all that in less than $1,500. And you could potentially go through all my courses in a couple of weeks if you’re wild and you just cook through them.

Josh 20:51
So what sounds better, and I don’t I don’t mean to do like a hard sell. But the question is like what would you choose? And I’m not the only course creator. I have friends Tim and David Blackman Divi life and Divi space they have their Divi business expert course, I’ve got colleagues who have all sorts of courses in the web design realm, my friend Anya with Divi lover, she has a course on CSS, love her design chops, love her teaching style and her courses. There are course creators out there for you what if it’s me awesome. But if it’s not me, or if you feel like somebody else resonates with you better on a certain topic, then go with them. Learn fast, be adaptable, integrate quick, here’s my final thought.

Josh 21:33
Here we go. Again, because I didn’t have any notes. I’m just kind of going for it. But here’s my final summary, conclusion thought, learn fast, be adaptable, learn how to pivot and learn things quick and just get the basics of stuff then move. And honestly just enjoy it have some fun. That’s the other problem. I didn’t have very much fun. In college, it was like, I had to learn this because I have a test. To me that is the worst style of learning. Personally, I just I Suck it, I could probably do a test on web design business right now and fail at that because that’s how bad I am would test.

Josh 22:08
But if we just talk about business and implement it in an actually start filling our bank accounts. Hmm, that’s the kind of result that I’m all about. So I think that’s another biggie too. It depends on how you learn. Like I am not well suited for traditional academia, I hate memorizing things. And I wish I don’t have to now because there’s search engines. In gosh, I mean, I look, I got a D in typing in high school, I got a D, I type every day all day, not all day, but a lot of the day now. And that’s like how I make my income.

Josh 22:43
I mean, obviously there’s other aspects to it. But typing at the core is what I do with whether it’s email writing content, writing blog posts, writing courses, writing podcast descriptions, whatever I write, I type. And I’m going to do that in high school. So that shows you how dislocated the traditional academic system is both high school and higher ed to real world applications.

Josh 23:06
So I think that’s it guys. I just wanted to share my thoughts on that. It’s a really important topic. For more on that, from my perspective, and from others. Check out that Divi chat episode, it was episode 237. We’ll link to it in the show notes at Josh hall.co/ 184. And again, you can always, you can always look wherever you get your podcasts or go on YouTube YouTube’s fun because we have a live live chat that we did on YouTube. But check that out for a little more not only my perspective, but others as well.

Josh 23:37
And I would love to hear your thoughts. If you want to let me know what you think on the subject of Do you need a degree to be successful in web design? I’d love to know where your stance is. I do read all the comments that come into my site, you can just leave a comment at the post at Josh hall.co/ 184. Drop a comment there, I would love to hear that.

Josh 23:55
And then here’s my ask for you. If you know somebody who’s complicated, complex thing, it got so close without messing up or contemplating this, let’s share this episode with them. Let them know you can check this out. You can just share it however you want to share it, whether it’s on Spotify, Apple podcasts, my show notes, page, whatever. Because my show notes page, if you don’t know has the actual embedded episode with any other links and timestamps and stuff, but share this with them, I would really appreciate it.

Josh 24:24
And if you think somebody is like about to go into hundreds of 1000s of dollars into debt, and you can save them from doing that and save them from you know, taking 10 years to do something well we can do in less than a year. Share this with them. It would mean the world to me and I really hope that this message gets out there and helps others as well. And I hope this helps you and inspires you as well. So again, I would love to hear your thoughts. Send me a note. Leave me a comment. Josh howell.co/ 184. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this.

Josh 24:51
And again, if you have been through college, and you’ve made it this far in the episode, it’s not all for naught. You can still take everything you’ve learned but again, I would probably back that up what’s real world teaching and not theory teaching. There’s the title for the episode right there.

Josh 25:05
So awesome, guys, thanks for hanging with me for joining me in this one. Again, a little bit of a different style episode very casual just spitting some thoughts out I’m sure I’m going to stop playing this and then just think of like an important point that I didn’t even mention, but we’ll save that for another time. Hope you enjoyed this. Thank you for subscribing to the show. If you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe, leave a review as well, if you would, I would love to hear your thoughts in the podcast.

Josh 25:28
You can now leave reviews on Spotify, which is really cool too. So leave a review if you would and mean the world to me. I do read all those and get ready for the next episode with entrepreneurial online marketing lead gen. I said it before. I’ll say it again. Amy Porterfield is coming up on the show next. I don’t even know what to say. I’m so freaking pumped. I’ll see you there.


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