professionalism and certification

Canada, Switzerland, and Norway are some of the countries that offer certification for graphic designers. Currently in the United States there is a movement to require certification for graphic designers. The topic is one that is hotly debated.

Opponents believe it’s a waste of time and that design is a way of thinking that should be accessible to everyone. Others feel that certification would pose problems that would make it impossible to enforce. Still others feel it’s about egos and elitism and won’t add any value to the role of the graphic designer.

Proponents of certification feel that at the very least it establishes a minimum standard of professionalism and minimum level of performance regarding business procedures, education, skill, and ethical behavior.

Certification might also inspire designers to become more holistic in their practice and yield greater ethical responsibility across a wider field of practitioners.

Richard Farson, author of the book The Power of Design: A Force for Transforming Everything, states that people seek professionals’ advice because they trust that their judgment is based on that special kind of wisdom that cannot be exercised in business. Farson and his proponents believe that designers are driven by the needs of business and solve problems that are client-based with short term goals rather than taking a holistic approach that looks at the systems with long term goals in mind.

Design certification models worldwide have different requirements. Common to them all is a council or organization that administers and upholds a set of professional certification standards for the industry as well as engages business and government on the design industry’s behalf.