Karen X Cheng writes about her experience learning to be a professional designer and provides a great list of suggested resources:
Step One: Learn to See
1. Learn to draw.
Get the book You Can Draw in 30 Days and practice for half an hour every day for a month.
2. Graphic design theory.
Picture This taught the foundations of graphic design (color, typography, and designing with a grid).
3. Basics in user experience.
The Design of Everyday Things
Don’t Make Me Think!
4. Learn to write.
Your job as a designer is not just to make pretty pictures -- you must be a good communicator. Made to Stick will teach you how to suck in your readers.
Voice and Tone is a website full of great examples of how to talk to users.
5. Learn to kill your work.
This is the hardest step.
Be prepared to kill everything you make.
Listen. Really listen. Don’t argue. If you ask someone for feedback, they’re doing you a favor by giving you their time and attention. Don’t repay the favor by arguing with them. Instead of arguing, thank them and ask questions. Decide later whether you want to incorporate their feedback.
Step Two: Tools.
Adobe Illustrator Classroom in a Book--
Vector Basic Training
Photoshop tutorial to make an iPhone app.
Photoshop tutorial to create a website mockup.
Step Three: specialties.
1. Logo Design.
Logo Design Love.
Designing Brand Identity
2. Mobile app design tutorial
3. Web design.
Don’t Make Me Think
The Principles of Beautiful Web Design
Step Four: portfolio
- Find poorly designed websites and redesign them.
- Join a team at Startup Weekend and be a designer on a weekend project.
- Enter a 99 designs contest to practice designing to a brief.
- Do the graphic design exercises in the Creative Workshop book.
- Find a local nonprofit and offer to design for free.
Step Five: Get a job as a designer.
The whole article is worth reading. http://www.fastcompany.com/3015726/dialed/dont-love-your-job-teach-yourself-a-new-one