UX design is a diverse field and requires a combination of hard skills, such as research, product design, and prototyping. But it’s also a career that can be entered at almost any age with determination and dedication to learning. Some people may require a degree for their desired long-term career path.
What degree do I need to become a UX designer? A UX design career can be an excellent fit for those with the correct skill set. Often, the ‘soft’ skills that drive interest in UX Design are empathy, creativity, curiosity, and collaboration/communication. To master these soft skills, you can enroll in a UX course or boot camp program, which will immerse you in the field and help you identify gaps in your knowledge. In addition, taking a UX course or completing a UX certification program can help you build a network of other UX designers at different stages in their careers, making it easier to find jobs when the time comes. However, if you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field and need more time or money to spend on a four-year undergraduate program, self-directed learning through online courses, books, or even videos can also be an option. Self-directed learning is a good fit for individuals who are highly motivated and have the self-discipline needed to learn on their own. Ultimately, whether you pursue a formal education or take a more self-directed route, you must find a way to learn the UX Design process that best suits your individual needs and lifestyle. A key consideration is how much hands-on experience you want to gain with industry-standard software.
UX designers are often tasked with creating user-friendly websites and apps. To achieve this goal, they must have a deep understanding of technical and soft skills that help them achieve their design goals. This means they need to be knowledgeable about web and mobile interfaces. These software programs facilitate the creation of designs and visual elements such as layout, typography, images, and graphics. A degree in human-computer interaction (HCI) or psychology can be a good choice for those interested in becoming UX designers because they will acquire the necessary hard skills to conduct research and create intuitive interfaces.
Moreover, the research-heavy nature of these degrees will help them develop critical thinking skills that are essential for this career path. Nevertheless, many people keen on becoming UX designers need more time or resources to pursue a four-year college degree. They may instead prefer to enroll in a short-term UX training program or even start their self-directed journey toward a career as a UX designer. In the latter scenario, many people begin by scouring online for information about the field. They read articles, listen to podcasts, take free courses, and start networking with other UX designers. Afterward, they focus on building a portfolio of their work and continue honing their skills through boot camps or self-directed learning.
In addition to learning the technical skills of UX design, you need to have a strong resume and portfolio to grab employers’ attention. You’ll want to highlight your soft skills (empathy, curiosity, creativity) and show how you would complement a team. This can be done through past work experiences, volunteer activities, professional organizations, or personal projects that showcase your design skills. You can also gain hands-on experience through internships, entry-level positions at design agencies or tech companies, or freelance work. Another way to gain experience is to take UX courses or attend a boot camp. These programs can offer you a structured learning environment with an allotted amount of time, regular contact with a mentor and tutor, and access to tools that aren’t readily available through free online resources. It’s important to remember that many UX designers do not hold a bachelor’s degree in a field such as design, human-computer interaction (HCI), or psychology. However, if you decide to pursue a degree, choosing a program that fits into your life and suits your learning style is essential. You may be working full-time or raising a family, and you might need a flexible schedule to study at your own pace. Several programs offer this kind of flexibility and fit into your busy life.
While a degree is unnecessary to pursue a UX designer career, educational options exist. A quick online search of “UX” reveals dozens of courses and boot camps designed to teach core UX skills and help students build their portfolios. As you research these programs, look for the types of learning that best meet your needs and lifestyle. Some UX courses are flexible and allow you to work through the curriculum independently. This is ideal for people who need to learn in a way that fits around other commitments but also want the structure of regular contact with a teacher. Other programs offer a more intensive, full-time course of study that takes weeks or months to complete. These programs are often called boot camps and can lead to a credential you can share with employers. Another option is to take a course or attend a boot camp focusing on specific UX design aspects, such as information architecture, interaction design, user-centered research, and visual design. These courses and boot camps are more specialized and shorter. Regardless of which type of training you choose, be sure that experts in the field teach it and have real-world experience in addition to their teaching credentials. Ask about their past projects and how they launched their careers in UX.