Being Self Taught Revisited

Posted January 5, 2011

A few weeks ago I posted about possible drawbacks of being a self-taught web developer and I got some really good feedback.

The two main problems I illustrated were: How to your asses your own ability and properly convey it and after assessing your ability how to properly determine the next step of progression. I now think both problems are futile. I’m self-taught because I didn’t agree with the requirements and structure of schools and assessments are inherently part of schooling—So, why am I trying to assess myself?

You can’t just tell people you are an expert; that’s for them to determine. Rather, show them what you do, and how it’s helped people in the past.

“I’ve never been asked for proof of my qualifications — my work speaks for itself and the majority of my new work comes from current, happy clients telling others about me.” — webecho

How to properly progress without assessment

Being a self-taught web developer, I already know how to keep up with a radically evolving industry. Where as, graduating from a rigid web design program, you may assume you have reached a certain level of knowledge and skill that will maintain your elligibility in getting work. But, Regardless of a formal or informal educational background in this field, the technology will permeate anyones’ experience and knowledge if they don’t constantly learn. Being self-taught, I’ve become a proactive learner: When I wanted to know how to create a webpage I scoured the internet for tutorials, guides, blog posts and spec sheets.

“An earnest personal motivation to learn is not something you pick up in a structured learning environment, and this skill will help you stay on top of trends and developments in the field.“ — eggNrice

However, being solely self-taught may not work for every field related to web design and develoment. When it comes to designers benek argues:

“[…] having formal education in design is huge if you’re a designer. Most self-taught designers I see with little experience are just copying trendy tutorials online and they have no foundation in the principles of design.”

Though, it’s very possible one could also teach themselves the fundamentals. I suppose it’s just more common place that purely self-taught designers often miss the foundation of good design.

In the end, the educational background of someone shouldn’t be the primary tell for their perceived ability. Your passion and hunger within your respective field guarantees much more. It’s actually pretty prevalant in the design and web industry that a your work outweighs your educational experience.