Before you quit your day job and invest in a UX design course, you might be wondering: Is UX design a good career for me?
There’s no simple yes or no answer. UX designers come from all walks of life, and there are no hard-and-fast rules as to who can become one. At CareerFoundry we’ve seen everyone from nurses and sales reps to accountants and Uber drivers, people of all ages, go on to become successful UX designers.
So, if you’re wondering whether you’ve got the right background, or think you’re not a likely candidate because you never went to art school, you can safely put these doubts to the side.
Being a good fit for UX is more about your interests, your passions, and what motivates you. In this post, we’ll approach the question from two different angles. First, we’ll take a look at whether you’re a good fit for UX design in relation to your profile. Then we’ll look at whether UX design is the right career choice for you in relation to your goals and aspirations.
Is UX design a good career for you? Let’s find out.
Note: If you’d like an easy introduction to the field of UX, try taking a free UX design micro course to begin with.
Ready to find out if you and UX are a match made in heaven? Let’s get started.
1. Am I a good fit for a career in UX design?
While anyone can pursue a career in UX, not everyone would necessarily feel at home in this field. When considering whether this is the right path for you, remember that the skillset of a great UX designer is incredibly broad. You need to think about your inherent characteristics, your natural talents, and what motivates you on a daily basis.
A great UX designer has an incredibly broad skill set that encompasses a variety of soft skills, industry skills, and crossover skills.
- Soft skills include things like interpersonal, collaborative, and communication skills, along with empathy, curiosity, and critical thinking. These are often skills that are difficult to teach, but that you’ve likely naturally developed in other work experiences and almost always benefit from continuous cultivation. We’ve seen people from many different backgrounds successfully start careers in UX, and that success starts with soft and transferable skills. So if you’re coming from a career in marketing, graphics design, dance, or teaching, it’s definitely possible to become a UX designer!
- Industry skills are the ones that you can learn, often through a UX design program or bootcamp: user research, UX writing, wireframing, prototyping, and more.
- Crossover skills will take you time and effort to learn, but if you keep an open and curious mind in every kind of work you do, it makes this development easier. These skills include things like business acumen, research, analytics, customer service, coding, and web development.
Here’s a visual breakdown of what the core UX design skillset looks like:
Here are some telltale signs that you’re a good fit for a career in UX design:
1. You put people first
Maybe you work in customer service and live by the motto that the customer is always right. Perhaps you just enjoy being around people and finding out what makes them tick. If you have a natural gift for empathy, you’ll likely enjoy many aspects of UX design, such as user research, creating personas, and gathering product feedback. UX design is all about understanding the user’s needs and putting them first. If you consider yourself a “people person,” you’re definitely off to a good start.
2. You’re interested in technology
UX designers are highly skilled at bridging the gap between technology and people. As Fred Beecher, Director of UX at The Nerdery explains, he is responsible for “humanizing technology.” Essentially, UX designers make sure that all the latest gadgets are easy for humans to use—be it the newest iPhone, the Amazon Alexa voice assistant, or a native mobile app. You don’t need to be a tech wizard to be a good UX designer, but if you do happen to be passionate about the latest trends and devices, a job in UX will put you right in the thick of it.
3. You thrive on variety
If you thrive on variety, you’ll definitely feel at home in UX design. It’s such a multidisciplinary field, comprising elements of design, human psychology, problem-solving and business. One day you could be interviewing users, the next you might be writing microcopy, creating website or app wireframes, or presenting your designs to developers. You’ll rarely be stuck at your desk doing the same task over and over, so you need to be comfortable wearing many hats and navigating an extremely varied to-do list.
4. You enjoy problem-solving
Problem-solving is at the very heart of UX design. First and foremost, you are designing to solve a specific user problem—but even within this process, there are additional layers of problem-solving. How do you create the optimal product within the given time and budget constraints, and how do you design for the user while fulfilling the business objectives? If you’re a problem-solver by nature, you’ll have plenty to offer in a UX design role.
5. You’re a good collaborator
UX design is not a solitary role. It’s a highly collaborative field, requiring clear communication and solid teamwork. At every stage of the process, UX designers need to collaborate with their peers; whether it’s conducting user research, aligning with stakeholders or handing over to developers. If you enjoy working with others and are confident when it comes to presenting your ideas, you should have no problem with this aspect of the job.
6. You’re prepared for a steep learning curve
One of the great things about UX design is that there’s so much to learn and explore that it never gets boring. If you are brand new to the field, you should be prepared for a steep learning curve—but as long as you’re passionate, it won’t feel like a chore. Even once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, you’ll need to constantly upskill in order to succeed. If you’re a keen learner and always want to better yourself, UX is a field that will push you to do so.
7. You’re a stickler for detail
If you’ve got a good eye for detail, you’ll be right at home in UX. When designing for the user, it’s important to think about every single tiny detail—not just aesthetically, but in terms of functionality too. The overall user experience is made up of so many different elements, and these all need to be considered. You’ll also need to revise and refine your designs until they are market-ready, so an eye for detail and a tendency toward perfectionism will go a long way.
To learn more about the skillset of successful UX designers, check out what CareerFoundry mentor Tobias has to say:
2. Is UX design a good career for my goals?
Now let’s consider UX design in relation to your professional aspirations. As already mentioned, UX is an extremely broad, multidisciplinary field — which means plenty of variety.
But what else does it mean for your career? UX design may be a good fit if you aspire to a creative and analytical position, a decent salary, long-term job security, a chance to branch out skill-wise, the possibility of freelancing, or just the chance to do some meaningful work that makes the world a better place.
1. You want to be creative and analytical
There aren’t too many jobs out there that combine both creativity and analytical thinking. If you want a career that incorporates both, UX design is the ideal meeting point. On the one hand, you’ll need to conduct user research and analyse the results, identifying trends and patterns in the data. At the same time, you’ll need to be creative when it comes to generating ideas, collaborating with UI designers on visual aspects, and coming up with solutions to problems.
2. You want to earn a decent salary
This might seem like like a no-brainer, but it’s worth knowing that UX designers tend to be well-paid. There is, of course, variation depending on where you’re working, what company you’re working for, and whether you’re working in a junior, mid-level, or senior role.
In the United States, for example, you could make anywhere from $59,000 to $128,000. Even at more junior levels, this is a decent salary in most U.S. cities with a reasonable cost of living. For more information on what salary you might earnas a UX desugner, have a look at our UX designer salary guide.
3. You want long-term job security
As more and more companies recognize the importance of design, the UX design employment market is strong and growing. LinkedIn even ranked UX design as one of the top 5 in-demand skills as of 2020 while Glassdoor added it to their list of best 50 jobs to have in 2022.
4. You want the chance to branch out
Within the UX design umbrella, there’s so much you can do. From video games to mobile apps, from virtual reality to voice design, there are countless paths you could end up on. Increasingly, UX designers are expected to have specialized knowledge in areas such as voice design, user research, frontend development, and UX writing. If you don’t want to be tied to one set field and you like the idea of branching out, a career in UX design is full of opportunity.
5. You have dreams of going freelance
If you dream of one day working for yourself, or even working remote and becoming a so-called digital nomad, UX design is one career where this is not only completely possible, but also fairly common. To find out more about becoming a remote UX designer, read Lucia Ziyuan’s account of a day in the life of a remote UX deisgner.
6. You want to make a difference
As a UX designer, you’ll be doing meaningful work. How? Well, you’re shaping the world around you and influencing—and improving—how people experience it. Not only that: design has a direct impact on business outcomes, with design-driven companies outperforming their competitors.
As the world of UX sets its focus on inclusive design, more companies and design teams are looking for ways to create products and experiences that are more inclusive than ever, and this has a direct impact on users who are often excluded based on their abilities, race, gender, identity, or background. UX designers have the power to create a world that works better for users along the full spectrum of humanity! Learn more about inclusive design in our beginners’ guide.
3. How to try UX on for size
Now that you’ve got a better idea of whether or not you and UX design would be a good match, it’s time to start exploring. Start by reading some great books about design thinking, and taking a free introductory short course in UX design.
You can also take a look at some concrete steps in the process to become a UX designer. In this video, Maureen Herben shares her own experience of how she switched careers to UX:
If you think this might be the career for you, here are some other articles you’ll find useful: