If you're good, it won't be hard.
You need to have a solid background and have a creative mind and stylish taste - that is what really makes you successful
From the time I was eleven I've been into designing websites.Now I'm eighteen years old and looking into pursing web design as a career.I'm not stupid,I know that what I know about web design now isn't nearly enough to get a job with.I'm planning on either going to college or taking a course on web design,but before I can make this kind of choice I need to know:
Is it difficult to break into the web design industry,even with proof of college or college level education and a portfolio?
It's a freelance career, so you never know how your clientele will fluctuate. In hard economic times, people aren't exactly looking for brand new designs for their websites just for the heck of it.
You need to have the skill (obviously), work samples (and a lot of them), and a very unique/personal approach/touch. You need to be able to meet customers' requests and needs, but also expand upon them to make them better than what was asked of you.
My suggestion is to start by fulfilling free graphics requests. Start with the easy stuff, then find things that challenge you. Don't do things that you already know how to do -- expand and learn to do new things by jumping into them. Keep all of your work in an organized portfolio, and in time, you will have 1) improved your skill and 2) work to show for it.
You don't even need to have a degree or take courses to be a successful web designer. It's a talent, and isn't something that can be learned. Yes, you can learn fundamental elements and skills, but no two individuals can create the same masterpiece.
Try and build up a portfolio of sites, even if they're ones you've done for family and friends or even for contests on forums such as Net Builders, DP etc.
There are thousands of design companies out there. Try and pick a local area (close to you) to advertise your services too, add yourself to local business directories.
Word of mouth and referrals will be your best friend initially.
Quality work will lead to quality referrals.