There is a debate on in Britain about whether or not graphic designers should be certified in the manner of other professions. “The Chartered Society of Designers has filed an application to the Government to approve a system of professional certification for designers.” according to an article in Design Week.

The scheme hopes to add credibility to the graphics profession, in a similar manner to architects, accountants, lawyers, and other “chartered” professions. For example, once the designer has received their CDes badge, they would, like other chartered professionals, be obliged to undertake mandatory annual continuing professional development training. But will regulation save the graphic design trade?

The question has been posed to the readers of Creative Review, who are commenting in both directions. The points for and against are quite clear, but designers are falling on both sides of the divide.

Some points for:
• Other professions are accorded status at least in part through a commitment to providing a level of service that is guaranteed by their chartered status. Graphic design could benefit similarly
• By acting now, designers can take responsibility into their own hands before the UK government does it for them. In a lengthy reply on Davidthedesigner’s blog, Peters raises this, pointing out that the Government has recently sought to licence estate agents and landlords: could designers be next?
• It will enhance the sense of community, bringing together a disparate occupation
• It will distance ‘proper’ designers from cut-price, ‘knock out a logo for £50’ merchants – graphic design will no longer be something that ‘anyone’ can do.

Some points against:
• Designers may not trust the assessment criteria and process
• Clients won’t care about it
• It will load extra cost onto already stretched businesses
• It will make design too exclusive. Some of the most interesting designers did not originally take formal design qualifications – Erik Spiekermann, for example, studied art history as his first degree, Michael Wolff was an architect, Adrian Shaughnessy describes himself as a ‘self-taught’ graphic designer. If CDes status insists on a graphic design degree will it exclude some of our more original thinkers?
• Being ‘certified’ is just not very cool. This latter point may sound frivolous but there are very many small design practices who will look on the idea of ‘certification’ with horror. Designers are not natural ‘joiners’ and may prefer to try to raise the status of what they do through a less prescriptive, formal approach.

Head over to the CR blog and join the debate »