The Professional Status of Designers: A National Survey of How Designers Are Perceived
Abstract:Increasingly, new occupations emerge that are keen to establish professional status, including those in the field of design. This study examines the familiarity with and perceived professional standing of six design occupations (fashion, furniture, graphic, industrial, interior and product design) by three respondent groups (designers, design educators and the public) within Australia. The study was conducted within the research paradigm of occupational prestige assessment. Regarding familiarity, it was found that the public knew less about these six design occupations than almost all of the other occupations included in the study, with industrial design being the least understood. For perceived level of professionalism, unsurprisingly, the designers and design educators perceived all of the design occupations as generally professional; however, the Public tended to regard them as semi-professional or even skilled workers. To analyse why this might be, design in Australia was evaluated against the generally recognized traits of professionalism. Design was found to lack an adequate career structure, with poor recruitment, training and induction practices. Combined with a low graduate starting salary and a casualized workforce, career prospects for young designers were seen as poorer than for other occupational groups. In addition, the absence of a professional body governing entry into the profession and the maintenance of standards is a serious deficit. Design bodies should be concerned about the public lack of understanding that was evident in this study, particularly if design wishes to advance its professional standing.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: March 1, 2005
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- Established in 1998, The Design Journal is an international, refereed journal covering all aspects of design. The journal welcomes articles on design in both cultural and commercial contexts. The journal is published four times a year and provides a forum for design scholars, professionals, educators, and managers worldwide. It publishes thought-provoking work that will have a direct impact on design knowledge and that challenges assumptions and methods, while being open-minded about the evolving role of design.