Degree or Not Degree

The creative industries are huge. For those of us who want our careers to involve producing content or acting creative in some way, there are a ton of places for us to actually practice our crafts, while making a living doing so. A lot of what I’ve been studying in the past year for New Media Studies has been about the actual process of finding a job, ensuring that I have the right set of skills in order for me to succeed in my field. However, I’m a little skeptical about the necessity for a degree to work in the Creative Industries. I’ve been reading through a lot of articles and essays regarding how degrees matter, and where creatives with degrees tend to end up working. That being said, why is having a degree so relevant for this field?

Now, having a degree for the Creative Industries can be extremely valuable for someone who is interested in getting a technical job. For someone like a film editor or a VFX artist, having a degree which shows your amount of training with relevant software and equipment can be extremely valuable for getting a job. However, in many

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James Cameron never attended film school, he has a degree in Physics

fields, what matters most is a portfolio, and call me a cynic, but I have a feeling that talent plays a lot into success in the CIs. If someone is naturally a good screenwriter, then they likely won’t need a degree to sell their screenplays. Sure, you can learn to become a better screenwriter, but having a degree isn’t what matters in that regard. What matters is that you can write.

 

Understand that I’m not making an attack on higher education, nor am I having an identity crisis with where I am in getting my degree. After all, I don’t think that I would have half of the creative skills which I have today if it weren’t for my studies up to this point. However, I feel like after I graduate, I don’t feel like my degree will help me get places where I’d like to go in the CIs. I feel like my work will have to speak for itself in that regard.

It’s not to say that I feel I won’t get a job, or that I won’t find some way to work in the CIs. Should I decide to start producing my own content, I could start accepting payments through Patreon or a similar service. Otherwise, I’d need a portfolio to present to possible employers. I feel like I’ve constructed a pretty solid one, but again, while I feel like my education has pretty much made my portfolio possible, there are a lot of creatives who have put together more impressive portfolios without a degree.

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Patreon has become a common source of income for a variety of content creators online

I think that what I’m really trying to get at is that I’ve been looking through and analyzing all of these articles about where CI degree graduates have found success, and why they’ve found success there, but I feel that with a lot of these cases, a degree wasn’t necessary – the tools and knowledge were. A degree isn’t necessarily demonstrative of someone who can succeed in the Creative Industries. Rather, it is evidence of knowledge of these industries – then again, so is a portfolio, and better yet, a portfolio demonstrates this knowledge in action. For instance, there are a lot of talented filmmakers without degrees, and there are a lot of non-talented filmmakers with degrees. An education is still valuable, as someone can understand the creative industries better(as I feel I do with my education so far), and give people the tools they need to create content and succeed in the creative industries. However, people can still have these tools and understandings without necessarily having a degree, all they need is evidence of this understanding – and a degree may not be the most compelling piece of it.

As Quentin Tarantino, a very successful filmmaker often says, “I didn’t go to film school. I went to films.”

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