A question I get asked a few times is ‘Do you need qualifications to be a website designer? The short answer is no. The detailed answer is a qualification significantly helps (for me anyway).
I studied computing at City of Bristol college for 3 years, I then went to the University of the West England (UWE) for another 3 years studying Web Design. These 6 years in education helped vastly on developing my skills and learning the fundamentals of the web design industry. The key learning point that was drilled into me was the process of self learning, this has proved invaluable since finishing UWE as the web is changing almost daily, and in order to keep up with the latest technologies and skills we must learn all the time.
You can of course go online and teach yourself the basics of HTML, CSS, PHP and all the other coding/scripting languages related to web design, however it can be daunting and you may not know where to start, it all comes down to the type of person you are.
If you are applying for a web design job then a qualification will help, but the overriding factor is your portfolio. If you have an awesome portfolio with great client testimonials (like ours), you have a far better chance than someone with a great qualification but a poor portfolio. This also applies if you are a freelancer trying to get clients, if your portfolio is top notch your get the work in, simple as that.
So to sum up, not everyone needs qualifications or a degree to be a web designer but I have both, a first class degree from UWE and an awesome portfolio.