My experience with getting RGD certification

First of all, here is the link to start RGD Certification.

Starting out with Provisional Membership

Before applying for the full certification, I apply for Provisional Membership, which is a step before the full certification. I applied online and then waited a bit before contacting a Portfolio Reviewer for a virtual meeting.

My reviewer, Nadine Kuhlkamp, was amazing and took the time to help me understand the process, gave me advice, and was lovely to talk to. I was a bit nervous and wary because I did not graduate with a degree in graphic design, fine arts, or any similar degree. I was a business major. However, RGD recognizes that people can enter the field of graphic design through different paths and be from different degree backgrounds.

I then got approval for the provisional membership and started paying member dues far less than the full membership. During this time, the pandemic was in full swing, and what I found wonderful was the compassion that RGD showed and provided financial relief to those who were facing hardship. Discounts are also given on resources for provisional members.

The steps are as summarized:

  • Apply online.
  • Then, you will be asked to complete a form to identify preferences for your Portfolio Reviewer (required as part of the Membership).
  • We will contact you to put you in touch with your Portfolio Reviewer. It can take some time to identify a reviewer.
  • Reviews can take place virtually or in person, depending on your location, areas of interest and availability of Reviewers.

Trials and Tribulations on obtaining Full membership/certification

First thing first you have to at least 7 years experience which can include 2-4 years of schooling. Applying to be a full member is a whole different ballpark. There are more hurdles and more scrutiny than the provisional membership. The steps are as summarized:

  • Apply to determine eligibility.
  • Take an open-book, multiple-choice, 80-minute Online Test.
  • Present 6 pieces of your work virtually to 3 senior practitioners over 30 minutes.
  • Receive your results and join RGD.

It took over a year for me to even pass the first step. My major hurdle was getting my application in an acceptable state. I applied two times and was rejected twice due to the quality of my answers and work samples. Zaria Pucknell was the one who reviewed the application, and she was kind and helpful each time. It definitely made the sting of rejection hurt way less.

I then applied for a mentorship as I was finally in the time period to apply for one. I knew I needed help, badly. I was then paired with Yunwen Zhu. Who, I have to say, was so amazing! There are several sessions with your mentor to help get your portfolio in shape, give advice, and for anything else. She definitely helped me improve as a graphic designer in just two sessions, improve myself and my mindset, and, in general, made me smile and laugh!

I then submitted my application for a third time with fingers and toes crossed…

I then heard that I was finally eligible! Third time is a charm?

Taking the Test

First, here is the link for an overview on the test portion. For preparation they do provide e-copies of the texts to help as listed, and they you can order the books. I brought them to support the organization and of course the tests are based on them.

I took the test online, and of course there were instructions on what to do before hand and during the test. Such as testing your webcam and connection etc. I was able to pass every section expect the research. In the event that you fail a section you are allow to retake it. Which, I did and then I finally pass.

Presenting my work

Portfolios are presented for 30 minutes to 3 RGD Reviewers, in my presentation I had a fourth observing member, and of course a impartial person to oversee the process. You are presenting the same six pieces that you submitted in your application. You will have to choose one piece to go in depth.

Here is a link to what they are evaluating on.

The best tips I got from my mentor and others, is to keep a consistent look to your presentation, have HQ pictures, and of course practice. My experience was great, the reviewers were all kind and of course I got results. I know I didn’t do to stellar, but nonetheless I passed and the feedback was invaluable.

The end of a long journey

I finally pass all the steps and I am now certified! I got my virtual membership, and will be getting the stickers and welcome package later. I hope to become a better designer in the future.

I hope that was helpful in any capacity! If you have questions, feel free to ask! Thank you for reading if you got this far!