The label of ‘designer’ is not a ‘reserved title’ in the way that some professions are. Whereas there exist bodies that offer certification or accreditation of designers, the profession is not tightly reglemented. As a result, not all “designers” are professional designers.
In an environment where one can receive “design services” for $5.00, where logos are crowd-sourced through open competitions and where the quality of design one can receive is very uneven, clients can find the distinction between non-professional design and professional design difficult. Taking into account the elevated costs of implementing (the wrong) design and the loss of competitiveness that can result from the poor design, one quickly realises that non-professional design can in fact be very expensive.
When evaluating a potential provider of design services, there are some factors that can aid in making the distinction between a person who "designs" and the professional designer.
- the professional designer has recognised training: this could include post-secondary schooling following a specialised curriculum, years of practical experience, instruction from a qualified mentor or apprenticeship.
- the professional designer pursues design as an occupation: they work for appropriate compensation, on a record of successfully completed projects, mandated by clients.
- the professional designer has qualifications: things to look for are recognition by peers, diploma or other type of certification, membership in a professional association, accreditation by a recognised body.
- the professional designer has self-awareness: they understand the implications and responsibilities of identifying as a professional designer and they commit to maintaining their competence throughout their career.
- the professional designer recognises that they are part of a professional community, with responsibilities to colleagues and supportive of professional community organisations.
- the professional designer adheres to a set of commonly held codes of professional conduct describing the way they conduct themselves and the responsibilities they assume.
- the professional designer strives to achieve robust outcomes that take into account the social, cultural, environmental and economic impacts of their work describing the way they conduct themselves and the responsibilities they assume.