According to reports from CNNMoney and PayScale.com, a job as a User Experience (UX) Designer is one of the top 50 careers, showing a growth rate of 22.1% over a decade. The pay for this role typically falls in the range of $95,000 to $150,000.
To become a UX designer, you need skills in UX design, graphic design, market research, and psychology, among others. Many UX designers begin their careers in web design or development, but anyone in a related field can acquire the necessary skills to become a UX designer.
In this guide, we will outline how to become a UX designer without any prior experience, estimate the time it might take, and discuss the qualifications you’ll need to secure a job in this field. You can click on the links to navigate directly to the specific section you’re interested in, or continue reading for a comprehensive overview.
What is a UI/UX Designer?
A UI/UX designer is a professional who focuses on creating and improving the visual and interactive elements of digital products, such as websites, mobile apps, and software.
The UI designer concentrates on the product’s visual design, while the UX designer works on the overall user experience, ensuring that the product is user-friendly and efficient. Together, they aim to create digital interfaces that are both visually appealing and highly functional.
How to Become a UX Designer with No Experience?
Here is a detailed guide on how to become a UX designer in no time:
1. Enroll in a User Experience (UX) Design Course.
There are more than 140 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs worldwide that focus on UX (User Experience). These degrees cover areas such as Interaction Design, Information Architecture, and Digital Design. Typically, they take between two to four years to finish.
If you’re seeking a quicker and more adaptable option, you might want to explore UX design courses. Many of these courses provide certifications that can enhance your resume.
As an example, Google offers an online course called the UX Design Professional Certificate. It can be completed in about six months. Upon completion, you’ll be eligible to apply for UX designer positions at more than 150 U.S. companies, including notable ones like Google, Walmart, and Best Buy.
2. Create design projects independently.
While enrolled in a UX design course or bootcamp, you’ll usually work on at least one project. To gain broader experience with various design tools and project types, it’s essential to continue creating designs outside of your formal training.
Once you’re satisfied with your designs, think about showcasing them on platforms such as Behance and Dribbble to garner exposure and receive feedback. This strategy can be highly beneficial for initiating the development of your UX design portfolio and expanding your connections within the UX design community.
To provide a real-life example, take a look at some of the work done by UX designer Emi Lantz on Behance:
3. Gain Practical Experience.
To truly apply and enhance your skills, think about pursuing a design internship or freelance projects. These experiences not only bolster your resume but also provide valuable networking opportunities.
Moreover, they help you establish a strong foundation in project management, teamwork, and effective communication. These soft skills are just as crucial as the technical skills needed for a UX designer.
You can discover internship or freelance chances on platforms such as LinkedIn and Upwork. At present, Upwork offers over 850 freelance UX designer positions.
4. Build Your Portfolio.
After following the previous steps, it’s time to create a portfolio showcasing your best work. Gassia Maljian, the Executive Search Director at Creative Niche, stresses the significance of portfolios.
She explains that portfolios display a designer’s completed projects and reinforce the experiences listed on a resume. It’s crucial to include a variety of samples in your portfolio, detailing the design process as comprehensively as possible.
Your portfolio should encompass personal projects, as well as work done for clients or companies during freelance work or internships. This is vital to demonstrate your skills, the methods you employ to enhance the user experience, and the impact you’ve had. Additionally, include the outcomes of your work, along with any testimonials if available.
For instance, Emi Lantz features a slider of testimonials on her portfolio website that affirm her skill, work ethic, and impact.
5. Build Your Professional Network.
Networking is crucial for two key reasons: it can connect you with mentors and job opportunities. As you strive to become a UX designer, reaching out to experienced designers with years of field experience can offer valuable insights into achieving success.
You can gain knowledge about the best tools to learn, emerging trends, and more. If you establish a meaningful connection with them, they might even inform you about job openings at their companies and recommend you.
To find designers whose skills and experiences align with your interests, consider joining a design community like Design Buddies on Discord or User Experience Design on LinkedIn.
6. Apply for UX Designer Positions
With your education, experience, and portfolio in place, you’re prepared to begin your job search.
In the UX design field, there are various titles that emphasize different skill sets, such as coding, content strategy, or usability. During your job hunt, keep an eye out for titles like UX Designer, Experience Designer, Visual Designer, UX Writer, UX Architect, Information Architect, UX Researcher, UX Engineer, and Interaction Designer. However, make sure to carefully read the job descriptions and qualifications to ensure they align with your skills and interests.
Websites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor offer numerous listings for UX designer positions, with Indeed alone currently featuring nearly 14,000 job openings.
7. Continue Your Learning Journey.
After securing a UX designer position, it’s vital to keep learning in order to enhance your skills, create innovative design solutions, and stay updated on emerging trends and tools.
You can achieve this independently by reading and working on designs for your portfolio website, or you can continue to take specialized design courses. Seek out courses that focus on areas of your field where you may have limited experience, such as journey mapping.
Here are some courses that can be valuable for UX designers at various experience levels:
How long does it take to become a UX designer?
The time it takes to become a UX designer can vary, ranging from as little as three months to an average of two to six years. There are no strict requirements for a specific degree, certification, or license to become a UX designer, which results in a wide range of timelines.
However, as previously discussed, certain steps can enhance your chances of securing a UX designer role. Below is an estimate of the duration for each step in the process of becoming a UX designer:
1. Degree in a UX-related field: 2 – 6 years
Depending on whether you pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a field like computer science or a related area, it typically takes between two and four years. A master’s degree adds another two years.
UX-related degree fields encompass computer science, graphic design, game design, information technology, web design, marketing, and psychology.
Data from Zippia reveals that 71% of UX designers possess a bachelor’s degree, making it the most common qualification. 17% have a master’s, and 7% hold an associate’s degree.
However, a bachelor’s degree is not an absolute requirement. Most job postings seek a bachelor’s degree in design, human-computer interaction (HCI), psychology, computer science, or a related field, or equivalent professional experience, emphasizing the flexibility in educational backgrounds for UX designers.
2. UX Course: 6 hours – 10 months
UX courses provide an alternative method to learn UX design fundamentals and tools. These courses are often available online and self-paced, allowing for more flexible scheduling than a formal degree program. The duration of UX courses can vary widely, with some taking only a few hours to complete, while others may extend over several months.
In summary, the path to becoming a UX designer is adaptable and can be tailored to your individual circumstances and goals. The time it takes to become a UX designer largely depends on the educational route you choose and the pace at which you progress through the necessary learning and skill-building.
Here are some UX design courses and their estimated durations:
- Introduction to User Experience Design by Georgia Tech : 6 hours
- User Experience: The Beginner’s Guide by Interaction Design Foundation: 7 weeks
- Beginner UX Design Course by UX Academy: 2 months
- UX Design Immersive Online by General Assembly: 3 months
- Google UX Design Professional Certificate: 6 months
- UX Design Program by Career Foundry: 10 months
3. UX Internship or Freelance Job: 1 – 6 months
Gaining experience through a UX internship or freelance work can take approximately 1 to 6 months. UX internships are often structured as 10-week programs, with many occurring during the summer.
On the other hand, freelance job durations can vary widely, typically ranging from 1 to 6 months. The duration depends on the specific company and the nature of the project.
Here’s an illustration of a UX design internship posting:
In conclusion, embarking on the journey to become a UX designer is an achievable goal, even if you’re starting with no prior experience. This step-by-step guide provides a clear roadmap for your path to success in the field.
From gaining the necessary skills and knowledge to building a strong portfolio and networking with professionals, you have the tools to make your dream a reality.
As the demand for UX designers continues to grow, the opportunities are abundant. With dedication, continuous learning, and a passion for creating user-friendly experiences, you can quickly find yourself in the exciting world of UX design in 2023.