Service Design Academy

SDA Insights Volume 8

man wearing glasses, a yellow hat and a yellow t-shirt on a yellow background pointing upwards to the Newsletter Title

If you’re wondering if service design is the right career for you and how to get started, the first step is to consolidate your experience and build your skills. Many people come to service design with a background of different career experiences, lateral moves, even U-turns.


Ringing in the new year means new resolutions. If entering Year 3 of a pandemic has taught us nothing else, we now know that being happy at home and work is essential to our well-being.  

At the Service Design Academy, we know that loving who you work with, loving your environment, being content with your financial rewards, and most importantly – loving what you do – will make your life healthier and happier. After all, many of us do spend 35 hours a week (or more!) doing our jobs, so we might as well be in love with what we do! 

Making a career transition into service design can be hard. Most service designers have had to make a leap from one career path to another or from student to professional.  It can be challenging and sometimes feels painful.  Changing your career can take some time and there may be a few false starts until you find the right fit. 

Many people come to service design with a background of different career experiences, lateral moves, even U-turns. Team members at SDA are no exception:

Katie Murrie our Lead Consultant graduated in Law from the University of Dundee, worked in the legal profession, then completed a Masters in Leadership and Innovation where she discovered her love for service design.

Kim Anderson began her career in graphic design after graduating with a degree in Computer Arts from Abertay University. It was taking part in design sprints that inspired her to learn more about design thinking and service design. 

In fact, every single member of the SDA team reached service design after career experiments! If this is your story, consider yourself lucky, you will have a lot to offer and work with. If you’re considering a move to service design, think about:

·       How your past has taught you many valuable skills you can bring to
the table

·       Areas that excite you and that you specifically want to learn more
about/lean towards

·      How you want to grow in the future

a man in a yellow t-shirt on a blue background looking and pointing at the words : Believe. Achieve. Succeed.

Think about new opportunities in the jobs market. It’s not that long ago that there just a handful that mentioned service design or human-centred design.  Now design is EVERYWHERE – government, start-ups, charities, and the private sector. You’ve only got to search on LinkedIn or Twitter feeds to see how diverse the range of jobs currently are. And these are only the jobs that specifically mention service design, there’s a whole host more that designers/those working in a human-centred design way could fulfil, that don’t have the title.

Scottish Government statistics state that over the next 10 years the demand for service designers in Scotland will increase by 35% with an estimated 17,000 jobs available in both the public and private sector.

If you’re wondering if service design is the right career for you and how to get started, the first step is to consolidate your experience and build your skills. Here’s some tips and resources from the team at SDA. 

Just Start written on an orange post-it note

You don’t need to wait for permission or a project, just start 

Start doing service design within your current environment. As Lauren Currie said on the Service Design Show, a great way to start is by redesigning a service that makes you angry, or a service that is really close to you.


Be confident about the skills you already possess

Don’t hide them—use them to your advantage, try to figure out how they might fit into a service design context.  The holistic nature of service design means it sometimes feels like you literally need to know

everything.  You might even feel a bit overwhelmed. There’s just so much info out there that you could spend all day, every day, studying and learning. If you’re spending your scarce time learning new skills, you want to know that you’re learning things that really matter and that will put you ahead in the job market.”


If you’re just reading books on service design, you’re going to miss out on some really key skills.

Becoming a service designer isn’t just about learning the tools and methods, it’s also about developing your communication, facilitation, improvisation, empathising and curiosity skills. We believe the ability to question, be curious and interrogate is as important as knowing the methods and mapping the journeys, that’s why all our courses take a learn by doing approach. They’re fun, interactive and all available to study online from anywhere.


Build a network

Building your network is important.  The service design community is open and generous, make those connections and more importantly, maintain them.

We regularly hear from alumni of our Professional Development Award in Service Design of their success stories as they develop into Service Design Practitioners.

In Spring 2022 SDA will be launching a range of short courses,

designed to support the beginning of your journey as a service

design practitioner.


·        Welcome to Service Design is an introduction to the fundamentals of service design the mindset, the approach, and the principles


·        Tools for Problem Solving & Innovation is a holistic approach to problem solving using tools that will enable you to drive innovation within your organisation. 


·        Service Design for Innovation & Impact is our flagship programme for business re-designed for those who are ready to innovate and adapt for the future using design thinking and service design methodology


We are also developing new specialist courses for Designing People Experiences and Accessible and Inclusive Design. Watch out for our next mailshot.


If you work in Scotland’s Local Authorities then our inaugural Professional Development Award in Service Design, in partnership the Scottish Digital Office, starts on 15th February 2022.  Scottish Government statistics state that over the next 10 years the demand in Scotland for service designers will increase by 35% with an estimated 17,000 jobs available in both the public and private sector. Achieving a PDA in Service Design will put you ahead of the competition, and your new skills will be in demand. Check out the Heartbeat Information Pack or contact us via info@sda.ac.uk


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