Comparison of Graphic Design Training Formats

Learn graphic design skills through guided training that's tailored to your needs and potential career path. Choose a training format that fits your learning preferences and schedule, from live in-person and online classes to on-demand and free courses.

Key Insights

  • Graphic design is a versatile field with various career paths and application areas, including advertising, branding, and digital design.
  • Training formats can greatly impact learning outcomes and should be chosen based on personal preferences, goals, and available resources.
  • Training can be received through live in-person classes, live online classes, on-demand/self-paced courses, or free tutorials and seminars.
  • Depth of training varies from comprehensive career certificate programs to focused bootcamps and introductory courses.
  • Noble Desktop offers a wide selection of training classes and bootcamps in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, available both in-person and online.
  • Graphic design skills can significantly boost career prospects in many fields, with potential positions offering competitive salaries.

Once you’ve decided to learn graphic design, the next important question is deciding how it is you plan to learn these skills. Most students find that they learn better when they receive guided training and there is no shortage of available options for students to receive guidance in their graphic design training. To learn more about the different graphic design training options, and what advantages and disadvantages they carry with them, read on.

What is Graphic Design?

Graphic design is a field of creative arts that focuses on projecting visual communication, often built of combinations of text, images, photographs, and other visual elements, with specific goals. Graphic design covers a wide array of different artistic disciplines and endeavors. Still, at its core, it is the act of using visual imagery to communicate with audiences and convey feelings and ideas that language alone wouldn’t be able to express. As a subset of the fine arts, graphic design skills are used in virtually every industry, but they are particularly prominent in advertising and branding. Advertisements, product packaging, logos, branded merchandise, and other promotional materials all demonstrate graphic design skills. Any business or organization looking to reach an audience will want to hire those skilled in graphic design.

Since graphic design covers a wide range of artistic disciplines, no two Graphic Designers will be working with the same toolset or on the same kinds of projects. Some will work in traditional print mediums, such as the publishing or magazine industry. Some will work on designing logos and branded merchandise for companies to place on billboards, hats, and other promotional materials. Some will work on digital projects, building webpages and mobile application assets. Others will design infographics, posters, and signage for activist organizations or non-profits. Graphic design is a wide-open field of diverse artistic endeavors, and learning graphic design skills will open many doors for creatives.

Read more about what graphic design is and why you should learn it. 

What Can You Do with Graphic Design?

Graphic design represents a wide-ranging field of visual expression, which means there is virtually no limit to the kinds of images that sufficiently skilled creatives can create. As the field of graphic design is so expensive, creatives can make use of their skills in both professional and personal contexts. As professional Graphic Designers, creatives will be tasked with building imagery that is both evocative and communicates complex persuasive ideas to their audience of consumers. Graphic Designers will build the iconography of companies and brands, build the images that audiences come to associate with those companies, and help construct memorable advertising campaigns, promotional material, and product packaging.

Graphic Design Certificate: Live & Hands-on, In NYC or Online, 0% Financing, 1-on-1 Mentoring, Free Retake, Job Prep. Named a Top Bootcamp by Forbes, Fortune, & Time Out. Noble Desktop. Learn More.

Graphic design skills are also useful for non-professionals who want to persuade large audiences. Small business owners, start-up entrepreneurs, or even creatives working in marketplaces like Etsy may wish to learn more about graphic design to build their brand identities and set themselves apart from their competitors. Activists and organizers can learn graphic design skills to build more visually appealing and persuasive designs for flyers and infographics. Politicians will hire graphic designers to build campaign materials. As long as someone attempts to communicate visually to an audience, they will benefit from either learning graphic design skills or working closely alongside someone who knows them.

Why Does Training Format Matter?

Since every student has different learning preferences and goals, it is essential to remember that picking the right training method for your graphic design education can arguably be the most important step you take when starting a new career path. You will need to choose the delivery method of your classes and the style and depth of those classes. While every student learns differently, the class formats tend to be consistent enough that students can get a broad overview of their options to make a more informed decision.

Types of Training Formats

One of the first issues you’ll need to consider is the type of training you are going to receive and the place where that training will be delivered. Students can learn graphic design at in-person training facilities or at their own pace online.

Live In-Person Classes

Many students find the best way to learn is through a live, in-person training program at a dedicated training facility. In these classes, students can learn directly from an experienced instructor who is prepared to guide students through the challenges of learning tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. These instructors will be able to provide students with detailed assistance and feedback, which is one of the most important aspects of learning creative skills like graphic design. Since these classes are taught in a classroom environment, students will also benefit from working alongside a cohort of like-minded students with whom they can network and collaborate. These classes let students practice hands-on graphic design exercises in state-of-the-art training facilities where students will have access to all the technological resources they need to learn these programs.

These classes are, unfortunately, restricted by location and time, meaning that students will have to look for courses taught in their local areas that fit their individual schedules. This can be fairly restrictive, particularly for students who don’t live near major metropolitan areas since these are where the highest density of training centers are built. In addition, students will need to consider the added cost of regularly commuting to a training location if they enroll in a longer training program. These costs can add up, so students will want to weigh those costs against the costs associated with other programs.

Live Online Classes

The second major graphic design training seminar is a live online class. These courses mirror the advantages of in-person training courses but are taught in digital classrooms, so there is no need to travel to a physical location. This lets students learn from experienced, live instructors without needing to leave their homes and workspaces. This can be a tremendous boon for students who don’t live near an in-person training facility or aren’t interested in the course offering of the available facilities near them. As a bonus, students will be getting hands-on training working with programs like Illustrator and Photoshop on their personal devices, which can make the learning experience that much more productive. Finally, students who learn online will still be able to ask questions and receive feedback from their instructors, whom they will have a live connection with during the course.

The drawback to these courses is that they place increased responsibility on the student for acquiring and maintaining their workstation and the necessary programs required for their training. This can vary from course to course, but students may need to license some of the Adobe Creative Cloud programs, and they will need to ensure that they have a computer and internet connection that is stable and modern enough to run multiple applications, including telecommunication software, at the same time. Taken together, this can add a substantial upfront cost to your training. However, students who already have access to this tech may find that learning online is preferable to in-person learning precisely because you have access to your own tech.

On-Demand Classes

On-demand or asynchronous/self-paced learning options are an ideal graphic design training alternative for students who prefer (or need) a more flexible training schedule. These classes allow students to dictate the pace of their training and they allow students to work around their family and work commitments. These classes also tend to be more modular than traditional live training courses, giving students a chance to construct their own curriculum by piecing together the training courses that they find best suit their needs. These courses also tend to be cheaper than live training classes, making them slightly more accessible for students looking to learn graphic design without a significant upfront investment.

The drawback to these classes is that because they lack a live instructor, students won’t be able to receive feedback on their work, which is an essential part of the learning process. It is one thing to know how to use tools like Photoshop. Still, if you don’t understand why decisions are being made, you may be unable to learn the granular skills that will help you construct a professional design portfolio. This makes these classes better suited for students looking to learn graphic design for personal rather than professional aspirations.

Free Courses

A final kind of training resource are free seminars and tutorials. These classes, offered by a wide variety of service providers, including first-party providers like Adobe and third-party training centers like Noble Desktop, tend to be shorter overviews of basic elements of the program, delivered as digital lectures or guided instructional videos. They do not tend to include any hands-on components and aim mostly to give students a feel for the possible things with the design applications. They rarely go in depth in their instruction. Still, they are excellent ways to ease yourself into learning a new program or skill if you find that the prospect of enrolling in a paid, professional training program is overwhelming. These courses won’t serve as replacements for professional skills training, but they are a great way to explore whether or not professional skills training is the right path for you.

Depth of Training Formats

Not only will students need to select the delivery method of their training program, they will also need to make a choice about the course’s curriculum and content. Some classes are much longer and more demanding than others, so students should consider what their long-term and short-term goals are so that they can enroll in a course that meets their specific needs.

Career Certificate Programs

The most in-depth training options for students are career-centered certificate programs. These classes, such as Noble’s Graphic Design Certificate program, are built with novice designers in mind and intend to teach students how to prepare themselves for new careers in the field of graphic design. These are the longest and most expensive courses that you can enroll in, but they are also the most thorough and detailed since they are designed to provide students with a complete understanding of all of the skills necessary to start a new career. For example, Noble’s Graphic Design Certificate program provides students with training in all major graphic design tools. It gives students extensive training in theories of graphic design rather than isolating a single application.

Another advantage to these classes is that they aim for professionalization, meaning that students will often receive significant assistance, in the form of one-on-one mentorship and focused seminars, on preparing for entry into the job market. Students will need to judge whether or not they are aiming to start a new career before enrolling in a course like this, since all of the training will be directed towards getting students ready to start working in a new field. These classes are not a great fit for hobbyist designers or students looking to expand their skills without aiming for a career change.

Training Bootcamps

Training bootcamps are more narrowly focused skills-centric courses that give students focused instruction in a specific area of graphic design theory or practice. Most commonly, these classes are built to teach students singular applications, such as Noble Desktop’s Adobe InDesign bootcamp. These classes are intended to help students master single aspects of the graphic design process rather than training them in all of the skills required of a Graphic Designer. This means that the classes tend to be shorter and less expensive than career-focused certificate programs, but they are still thorough enough to provide students with a measure of proficiency in the tools they are training in. They tend to emphasize hands-on training in important graphic design skills. So, for example, students learning Photoshop will spend time on real-world examples of Photoshop projects to get practical experience.

These courses provide students with detailed feedback and instruction on how to use important graphic design applications. While these aren’t focused on placing students on a new career path, they are excellent options for students who are looking for skills training that can help them advance in their present career fields. These classes aren’t as long as career-certificate programs, nor are they as expensive, but students are likely to need to enroll in more than one of them over time if they want to continue developing their skills over the course of their careers.

Introductory Courses

The final major kind of training program is an introductory class that covers basic and intermediate functions of a graphic design tool or application. These are the shortest and most cursory professional training programs available and are primarily designed to acclimate students to the kinds of basic work that they will do using a program like Photoshop or Illustrator. These classes, like Noble’s Illustrator in a Day, tend to be short and succinct in their pedagogy and they aim to teach students how to be comfortable with a given program so that they can use it in their daily lives until they are ready for more in-depth training. Almost all of these classes presume that students will either be using the program only for its most basic functions or that they will eventually enroll in an advanced skills course, so the lessons tend to be cursory, though they will still involve hands-on training methods.

These tend to be the least expensive option for training and these are also the most common kind of on-demand course offering. They will involve the least time investment but also require the most supplemental training for students looking to hone their skills and work on more elaborate projects. These classes are best suited for hobbyists, students who want to slowly build up new supplemental career skills, and students who know that they want to learn graphic design tools but aren’t yet sure they want to build a new career out of their training.

Learn Graphic Design Skills with Noble Desktop

Interested in learning graphic design? There are a few different options available. It’s possible to either study individual graphic design tools in accelerated bootcamps or learn complementary graphic design skills in more career-focused training programs. Both graphic design training courses are available to students through Noble Desktop, both in-person and online. These courses are taught by experienced instructors who can teach students important graphic design techniques and give them vital feedback on their designs. Even online, Noble strives to keep class sizes small, ensuring that students can interface directly with their instructors. Plus, all of Noble’s courses have the option to retake the course for free within a year. This allows students to hone their skills, cover material that may have given them difficulty, or just get more hands-on practice and feedback on their designs.

For students looking to learn the programs most commonly associated with professional graphic design, Noble offers a wide selection of bootcamps. These include training courses in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, all of which are industry-standard tools. These courses will provide students with hands-on training in the advanced techniques to manipulate and edit photos, build vector graphic illustrations, or construct layout designs. Each of these courses will guide students through practical exercises replicating the kinds of projects built by professional Graphic Designers. Each of these courses will teach an individual tool, but because they are all part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, learning one tool will ease future training and greatly expand how creatives can use multiple programs simultaneously.

Students looking to build a career in graphic design may wish to consider Noble’s Graphic Design Certificate program. This accelerated training program will teach students all three major 2D graphic design tools. Students will learn Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign work separately, then they will learn how these programs complement one another, introducing students to new and expansive ways to build graphic designs. Since this is a career-focused bootcamp, students will receive one-on-one career mentorship. The final portion of the course is dedicated to helping students build a practical portfolio of sample design that they can take onto the job market. For students looking to turn a passion for graphic design into a career, Noble’s certificate programs are an ideal place to receive the necessary skills training. You can also browse the full list of schools for graphic design classes on the Noble website.

Key Insights

  • One of the most important parts of your graphic design training is getting off on the right foot by selecting a training program that best fits your needs.
  • You’ll need to make an informed decision about the delivery method and content of the course you are enrolling in.
  • Classes can be taken either live in person or online or taken asynchronously through on-demand delivery methods.
  • Courses can be month-long career-focused certificate programs, more targeted skills bootcamps, or individual introductory classes.
  • No matter how you want to learn graphic design skills, Noble Desktop is here to help you find the comprehensive in-person or live online graphics design training program that fits your needs.

How to Learn Graphic Design

Master graphic design with hands-on training. Graphic design is the production of digital and print media that follows certain conventions of style, color, and typography in order to evoke a positive reaction from its viewers.

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