- One of the things that is most exciting but perhaps also most confusing about UX is that it's not a single career. Instead, UX is really an umbrella of a whole host of careers that all focus on the needs and experiences of the users of a product or products. This umbrella is largely centered at the point where people meet technology. Specifically, the most common UX jobs currently focus on people and their use of things with screens, be it desktop or laptop computer, or mobile devices, or perhaps wearables.
Regardless of the exact technology that you may find yourself focusing on in your UX career, your broad mission will remain the same. You'll be focusing on ways to improve the interaction that people have with technology, in order to make sure that they can do what they want to do and need to do without difficulty and without frustration. You'll help to assure that people can understand how the product's technology works, that the product meets their expectations, and simply put, that the product delights them.
UX sounds like a great field to be part of, right? So, where do you start? Starting at the beginning, you do certianly need an undergraduate degree. At some schools, there are undergraduate degrees in specific aspects of user experience. These degrees may be found in schools of design, computer science, or psychology or something else. You may find degrees that have design in the name, or have a name related to HCI, meaning human-computer interaction or human factors. While these degrees could certainly offer greater UX learning, you don't need to have one of these UX degrees to do UX.
In fact, you can have an undergraduate degree in just about anything to do user experience. Regardless of your starting point, you can beef up your UX knowledge while on the job through reading books, articles, blog posts, with formal and informal online training, with in-person professional training. Choose a way to learn that is best for you, that resonates with whatever your learning style may be, and that fits well within your life and your job. One word of caution, however, is that you shouldn't choose training just because you're told that you'll receive a certificate or certification upon completion.
While some quality trainings may promote themselves as offering these, it's what you are learning that is far more important than any UX certificate or certification. In fact, there is no widely accepted standard within UX for either specific certificates or certifications. And while on the topic of degrees, while you don't need a Master's degree for most UX fields, it certainly can't hurt, and it can add additional value and make you stand out in a crowd of applicants. Again, though, the same principles apply. A Master's degree in some aspect of UX is a bonus, but not absolutely necessary.
My own Master's degrees are in sociology and in business. While I really do find that I use my MA and MBA knowledge regularly in my work, neither was explicitly a UX degree. Before we end this introduction to UX, I want to point out one other very special thing about the UX field that goes far beyond the work. UX is also a community, a community of practitioners who meet locally at meet ups all over the world, and who are connected globally through organizations like the User Experience Professional Association, or UXPA, or the Interaction Design Association, or IXDA, or something else.
I'd encourage you to join the UX community for the betterment of your career. Find something locally, nationally, internationally, and through networking and sharing with your fellow UXers, you will find yourself becoming part of something very special and amazing.
In this course, UX expert Cory Lebson breaks down the sub-disciplines of user experience (the trifecta of design, research, and strategy), so you can learn about the different jobs that align with your strengths and passions. Cory helps you understand job responsibilities as well as the benefits of working full-time for a company vs. consulting or freelancing. With his guidance, you can create a more compelling resume and portfolio package and make sure that you properly brand yourself as a UX professional.
This course offers focused career advice for job seekers, tips for recruiters and employers who want to better understand UX, and a necessary framework for grad/undergrad students exploring the next step in their career. Along the way, Cory highlights training in the library to build specific UX skills.
- What is UX?
- Should you be a UX generalist or a specialist?
- Available UX career types: design, research, and strategy
- Working in-house, consulting, or freelancing
- Telling a story with a portfolio and resume
- Working with recruiters