Here’s How to Become a UX Designer in 2024

If you’ve been thinking you’re a good fit for a career in UX design, but aren’t sure where to begin, we’re here to help.

I’ll also break down more about the field of UX design, the current UX job market, and the salary you can expect.

If you’re already eager to get your hands dirty and see if it’s right for you, try out our free 6-day UX design short course at CareerFoundry. It’s a good preview of the CareerFoundry UX Design Program, which thousands of people have used to launch their UX careers.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  1. How to become a UX designer: An 8-step guide
  2. What does a UX designer actually do?
  3. Are UX designers in demand?
  4. Can beginner UX designers find work in 2024?
  5. How much can UX designers expect to earn?
  6. Key takeaways
  7. FAQ about how to become a UX designer

As we move into 2024, there’s never been a better time for a fresh start. Ready for yours? Let’s go!

1. How to become a UX designer: An 8-step guide

If you’re a visual learner, UX designer Maureen shares tips based on her own personal career change:

The first three steps are largely exploratory and will help you determine whether UX is really for you.

The next five are all about building up the technical expertise—the hard skills—and the professional capital—the soft skills—you’ll need to convince design leads and hiring managers that you’re the right person for the job.

And if you want to learn from someone who’s actually done it, check out Jeremy’s story, or any of the student stories on our blog.

Step 1: Start reading up on UX and take a free course. Ask yourself: “Is this for me?”

So you’re interested in UX. Great. But UX is a broad field, so you’ll need to understand why you are interested and what you may want to specialize in.

Does that mean you love quantitative data analysis, and that you’re desperate to dive into UX research?

Or does it mean you love developing and testing rapid prototypes on real-life users and iterating to produce an industry-leading experience?

Or perhaps it means you’re a microcopy whizz, who can confer a compelling, on-brand message in just a few characters.

Your first step is to understand the various disciplines that constitute the broad church of modern-day UX design, so explore its interior, from altar to the aisle, before deciding whether it’s for you—and whether you’d ultimately like to refine your skills in one particular area of user experience.

UX accounts to follow on Instagram

Follow UXBites (and all the other excellent channels out there, of course). You’ll get digestible tips and advice on a daily basis, delivered directly to your feed.

UX accounts to follow on YouTube

AJ&Smart, CareerFoundry, The Futur, and Jesse Showalter.

UX blogs

The most well-established include UXPlanet, UXCollective, and InsideDesign by InVision.

UX books to read

You’ll need to start out with The Design Of Everyday Things, a seminal book written by Don Norman, considered to be the father of UX design. After that, you can move onto Don’t Make Think, and 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People.

Free UX courses

There are a number of great free UX courses. Of course, we recommend our free course: it’s 6 days of free lessons. We’ve launched thousands of UX careers with our full UX program, and the free course is a good taste of it.

Oh, and if you’re into podcasts, we’ve also collected our top UX/UI podcasts.

Step 2: Learn the key UX principles

The golden rule of UX design is user-centricity, and you’ll find that each of the more specific rules and best practices you come across feeds into this one ubiquitous principle.

But what does user-centricity mean exactly? Well, it’s all about putting the user first; designing with real people in mind and making decisions based on what they actually need—not on what you assume they need.

As a UX designer, it’ll be your job to advocate for the user while keeping business stakeholders happy. This means understanding who your target users are, finding out what they need and expect from the product you’re designing, and then coming up with a solution that is user-friendly, technically feasible, and viable in terms of budget and business goals.

Branching off of user-centricity are a whole host of rules and principles that will guide you to make smart, user-first decisions. The book Universal Principles Of Design offers no fewer than 125 laws and guidelines for good UX—but that’s quite a hefty starting point. If that seems a little overwhelming, check out these seven universal design principles that will make your designs more inclusive.

UX designer and CareerFoundry tutor Jonny Grass advises new and aspiring UX designers to start with just five key UX design principles:

  • hierarchy
  • consistency
  • confirmation
  • user control
  • accessibility

Jonny explains each of these principles and why they’re so important in this guide: Five Key Principles For New UX Designers.

For further reading around the subject of key UX principles, we also recommend taking a look at these user experience basics set out by, product designer Andrew Zacek’s five principles of design for a better user experience, and Steve Jobs’s six key principles of UX.

Step 3: Learn about the key UX design methods and processes

What are the most important UX methods?

The UX design process can be divided into four key phases:

  • research
  • design
  • testing
  • implementation

With this overview in mind, you can start to learn about the specific methods and processes that go into each phase.

To help you get started, we’ve put together a little list of some of the key methods and techniques that UX designers use:

This is just the tip of the iceberg; as you research and explore, you’ll find that many of the methods listed above encompass further, more specific techniques (especially user research and user testing).

As always, the internet is full of handy how-to guides and beginner-friendly tutorials.

As a starting point, check out this A-Z of UX techniques by UX Mastery and this big bumper guide to some of the most common UX design methods over on UX Planet. If you’re more of an audiovisual learner, you’ll also find loads of informative short- and longer content on the CareerFoundry YouTube channel.

Step 4: Structure your learning with a credible UX course

As you’ll have noticed, there’s an abundance of content out there, and while this is ideal for background reading, it won’t turn you into an employable UX designer. What you need now is a structured, hands-on approach to learning.

Many courses are great at teaching the theory of UX, but not all courses focus on concrete outcomes. A small number of offerings, ours included, provide both—and guarantee you a job at the end of it.

Before you commit to a UX program, make sure you do the following:

What should you look for when choosing a UX design course?

When it comes to choosing a UX design course, you want to make sure that you’re getting the best value for your money. It’s an investment in your future, after all, so you need to get it right—and not all courses are created equal.

Based on our extensive knowledge of the industry, we’ve put together a checklist that will help you to distinguish the best from the rest:

Project-based learning

Look for a course that requires you to get hands-on. Employers will want to see that you’ve mastered the right practical skills, so it’s not enough to just learn the theory. A good course should provide expert content coupled with hands-on exercises to test what you’ve learned.

A strong focus on building a portfolio

Choose a course that will not only get you working on at least one portfolio project but will also help you to refine and polish your portfolio ready for the job market.

Human support

The most effective courses on the market are those that offer human support as part of the curriculum. Opt for a course that pairs you up with at least one industry expert, be it a mentor, a tutor, or (ideal scenario!) both. We’ve covered the importance of mentorship in more detail in this article.

Original curriculum developed by experts

Beware of curated or AI-generated content.

Many course providers will wax lyrical about their expert curriculum which, upon closer inspection, actually turns out to be a compilation of third-party content.

It’s normal for a UX design course to point you to other resources for further reading, but ideally, the core syllabus will be written (and continuously updated) by expert curriculum writers.

Career support

Mastering the right skills is only half the battle. Here at CareerFoundry, for example, our UX career-change program incorporates an entire job preparation module. Students are also assigned a dedicated Careers Specialist who provides one-to-one coaching throughout the job search period.

Your personal logistics and preferences

Besides the points listed above, consider your personal situation. How much time can you dedicate each week to learning UX? How much flexibility do you need in terms of scheduling? What’s your budget?

Ultimately, if you’re paying for a course, you want the full career-change package. Some providers (like us) ensure this with a job guarantee; if you don’t find a job within six months of graduating, you’ll get your money back.

Step 5: Practice as much as you can

Where can you find opportunities to apply your UX design skills?

Aside from the portfolio projects you cover as part of your UX design course, you can give yourself a real advantage by doing as much extra-curricular design work as possible.

Volunteer your design skills

Hiring designers can be expensive, and there are plenty of charities and non-profit organizations that will be more than glad to benefit from your budding design skills. Skills-based volunteering is an excellent way to gain real-world experience while gathering some interesting projects for your portfolio.

Not only that: volunteering is also a great way to expand your network and make valuable industry connections—not to mention the feel-good factor! Use platforms such as Catchafire, donate:code, and VolunteerMatch to find suitable volunteering opportunities.

Do an unsolicited redesign

Have you used an app or a website recently that was lacking a little on the UX front? Perhaps there’s a particular user experience that’s imprinted on your memory for all the wrong reasons. This is the perfect opportunity for an unsolicited redesign.

An unsolicited redesign is essentially a voluntary design challenge that you undertake purely for the fun of it (and to gain valuable UX experience).

If you’d like to learn more about this popular UX practice, take a look at digital designer Sean Hervo’s article on the value of unsolicited redesigns, and heed Jason Li’s advice on how to do an unsolicited redesign that people actually care about. For inspiration, check out product designer Priyanka Gupta’s unsolicited redesigns of LastPass and Sephora.

Apply UX design to your current job

Look a little closer to home for opportunities to practice UX. Identify a potential challenge in your current workplace and attempt to address it using UX methodologies.

Perhaps you work in a shop and want to improve the customer experience. Why not conduct quick-and-dirty user interviews with customers to find out what they want? Maybe you work in an office and can’t bear the chaos of the company’s digital filing system.

This strategy requires you to think outside the box a little, but once you slip into your designer mindset, you’ll start to see opportunity everywhere.

Step 6: Learn the tools of the trade

What are some of the most important UX tools, and what’s the best way to master them?

Employers will expect you to be comfortable with big-name UX design tools like Sketch and InVision, but it’s also a good idea to experiment with others, too.

As AI tools become popular as a way to inform more efficient processes and ease the burden of routine tasks, those hiring UX designers require proficiency in these, too.

So what exactly do you need in your toolkit? Here are some of the most popular tools for various phases of the design process:

User research tools

Wireframing and prototyping tools

User testing and usability testing tools

AI tools

We’ve only listed a handful of tools here—there are dozens if not hundreds more out there. To start your education, we recommend consulting designer-curated lists. Joanna Ngai, a UX designer at Microsoft, shares her favorites in this comprehensive list of UX design tools.

And check out our list of the top UX AI tools in this guide.

We’ve also covered this topic extensively: check out these essential tools that UX designers use to do amazing things, as well as this round-up of wireframing tools. UX Mastery has left no stone unturned in this giant list of 200+ tools for UX designers.

If you’re still not sure which tools to focus on, ask fellow designers what they use. At the same time, get a feel for what tools are most popular in the industry by browsing UX designer job ads—what tools are commonly referenced by employers? Your course will probably provide recommendations, too.

Step 7: Build your UX portfolio

What exactly is a UX design portfolio, and what should it include?

Watch this video for top portfolio tips, and keep reading to learn more about why a portfolio is so important.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: your portfolio is your most valuable asset as a UX designer. In the simplest of terms, your portfolio is a personal website that introduces you and showcases a selection of your work. But, if done properly, it does much more than that; it tells a story and takes the viewer on a journey.

Employers don’t just want to see beautiful interfaces and finished products—they want to know how you got there. Your portfolio should demonstrate your process: how do you solve problems? What are your thought patterns and processes?

Tiffany Eaton, interaction designer at Google, outlines five key components that make up a good UX portfolio project:

  1. Context—the problem you are trying to solve
  2. Scope—the internal and external factors surrounding the problem
  3. Rationale—your design process
  4. Visuals—the look, feel, and function of the final design
  5. Impact—what people take away from your design solution

Resources for creating your portfolio

As a newcomer to the field, the thought of creating a stand-out portfolio might seem like a rather daunting task—but no need to feel intimidated.

CareerFoundry UX program graduate portfolios

As you can see, both designers have detailed the problem they set out to solve as well as the tools and processes they used, together with visual artifacts that document the evolution of the final design.

Portfolio best practices

Shilpa Tripathi, UX design specialist at SAP, has outlined thirteen UX portfolio best practices to help you on your way.

We’ve also put together a comprehensive guide to creating a killer UX portfolio with the help of UX design mentor and startup coach Tobias Treppmann, complete with advice on what to include in your portfolio, techniques for making sure your portfolio stands out, as well as some very important portfolio no-gos.

More portfolios to get inspired

Check out these fifty essential UX portfolios, as well as these CareerFoundry student portfolio projects:

Step 8: Network with other designers

The reality is, not everyone feels at home on the networking scene; for many of us, it can feel pretty awkward. Especially if you don’t yet consider yourself a “proper” UX designer, you might feel somewhat apprehensive about stepping into a room full of industry experts.

Especially in a creative field like design, networking offers many advantages—and it’s not just about schmoozing your way to a job opportunity, either. Connecting with fellow designers will inspire and motivate you—whether it’s with like-minded newbies or industry veterans. You’ll also discover untold opportunities to learn, collaborate, air your frustrations, and just have fun.

The good news is, networking comes in all different shapes and sizes. You don’t necessarily need to attend a big, formal event in order to start making valuable industry connections. When you’re just finding your feet in the world of UX, we recommend starting small.

If you’re not quite ready for in-person networking, online platforms like Slack are an excellent way to ease yourself in. Check out Designer Hangout, Junior UX Community, Dear Designers, and Team Sketch—together with this list of 28 Slack communities you should join as a UX designer.

From there, build up the courage to take your networking efforts offline. If there’s a UX designer in your current company, invite them out for a coffee and pick their brain. At the same time, search for local groups and events as well as online ones.

However, you choose to network, bear in mind that it’s not about exchanging business cards and collecting LinkedIn contacts. Focus on making meaningful connections and building up a genuine rapport with those around you. UX design is all about empathy and human interaction, after all!

To learn more about networking as an aspiring UX designer, check out these resources:

2. What is UX, and what does a UX designer actually do?

The term “user experience” (or UX) describes the interaction a person has with a product or service.

Consider the task of shopping online or trying to book a holiday. In an ideal world, you’ll come across a website or app that’s easy to navigate and enables you to quickly find what you’re looking for. In no time at all, you’ve made a purchase and you’re on your way. That’s what we call a good user experience!

If you’re unlucky, you’ll land on a website or app that is not so user-friendly. Perhaps the page takes ages to load, or the layout is so confusing that you find yourself going around in circles.

When you do eventually locate the item you’ve been looking for, the checkout process seems impossible; first, there’s a page-long form to fill out, then you’re getting pop-ups asking if you want to add further items to your basket. In the end, you admit defeat and close that particular website, vowing never to return. That’s what we call a bad user experience.

Good and bad user experiences don’t just happen by chance; they are the result of either good or bad design!

That’s where UX designers come in.

They consider each and every element that shapes the user experience—whether it’s for a digital product like an app or website, or for a physical product that you can hold in your hand, like a smartphone.

How does it make the user feel? How easy is it to use? Is the user able to complete their desired task without too much thought or effort?

UX designers combine market research, product development, strategy, and design to create seamless user experiences for products, services, and processes.

With user research, task analysis, empathy, and lots of ideation and testing, they build a bridge to the customer, helping the company or product owner to better understand and fulfill the customer’s needs and expectations.

The different areas of user experience (UX) design

There’s still plenty of confusion around what UX is and what it’s not, so if you feel like you could do with a more detailed introduction, be sure to check out our comprehensive beginner’s guide to user experience design.

For now, though, we’ll assume you’ve overcome that minor hurdle and are now asking yourself: How can I break into the field?

Unfortunately, there’s still a fair amount of confusion around this, too. If you want to become a doctor, you go to medical school. If you want to be a lawyer, you go to law school. But there simply aren’t as many traditional avenues that end up in UX; so how do you become a UX designer?

UX is a favorite of what the Germans call the Quereinsteiger—newcomers transferring from one field to another and bringing their expertise—their transferable skills—with them.

We’ve seen thousands of Quereinsteiger go through our career change course in UX design and land the job they want in a new career they love.

They have an extraordinarily broad range of backgrounds, too. Looking at our UX students, these come from roles within tech such as digital marketing, visual design, and software development (44%) to ostensibly unrelated roles in teaching, banking, and office administration (56%).

As those statistics prove, it’s possible to become a UX designer without prior industry experience.


44 percent of our UX students have related previous experience, while for 56% their experience isn't related

Bear in mind that if you want to work remotely, there are unique perks and challenges to working as a remote UX designer.

3. Are UX designers in demand?

Before you invest good time and money into a career change, you want to be sure that your future job prospects are solid.

Last year showed no signs of demand for UX designers waning—in fact, both UX designer and UI designer made it into Indeed’s 19 IT Jobs That Are in High Demand.

Of course, the world changed dramatically over the course of last year, so the question remains: are UX designers still in demand in 2024?

Let’s look at the state of UX in the job market and other factors affecting demand.

UX designer job vacancies are in plentiful supply

To start, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that UX design will continue to grow in demand for the next 8 years.

Sarah Doody, Founder and CEO of Career Strategy Lab says the future is bright for UX across a variety of sectors. 

“If you’re currently looking for a role, it’s important to realize that just because some organizations are doing layoffs doesn’t mean it’s a foreshadowing of a dismal future. When you look outside the tech industry you will see that many companies in travel, finance, health, education, government, and more, are still hiring.”

Sarah’s advice is to ensure your career materials (resume, portfolio, LinkedIn profile, and so on) are always ready to go for whenever an exciting new opportunity may appear.

At the time of writing, there are almost 3,000 UX designer job listings on (in the U.S.). On LinkedIn, you’ll find almost 3,000 vacancies. Tweak your search to “product designer”—a role that relies on many UX skills and principles—and you’ll see almost 6,000 vacancies. Plenty of opportunity for anyone entering the UX field!

If you want to get an idea of the UX agency landscape, read our article on the best UX Design Agencies.

AI is leveling the playing field for newcomers

Although the rise of AI first saw a wave of fear, it soon became clear that AI is actually of huge benefit to UX without any possibility of it actually taking any jobs.

By automating repetitive tasks, analyzing vast amounts of user data, and even generating design ideas, AI frees up designers’ time for more strategic and creative work. This data-driven approach allows designers to personalize experiences, predict user behavior, and identify pain points with greater accuracy, ultimately leading to more intuitive and user-centric interfaces.

Additionally, AI can help streamline collaboration and communication, facilitating seamless feedback loops and faster iteration cycles.

The important thing to do: is to make sure you know which tools work best.

A growing need for inclusive, user-centric designers

UX designers have always been crucial to the success of any product or service, and the economic turbulence of the last few years has further highlighted the importance of good user experience.

In light of the rise of remote work, many companies have found new ways to bring value to their customers. For some, this meant going digital. For others, it has meant reviewing and improving their UX to secure a competitive edge.

The takeaway: UX designers have continued to be in high demand.

Increased potential for remote work

According to this Forrester report, remote work is up 300% compared to the “pre-pandemic” era. When it comes to applying for jobs in UX, be prepared to find (and consider) an increasing number of remote opportunities. We take a closer look at working remotely as a UX designer in this post.

4. Can beginner UX designers find work in 2024?

Entry level candidate accepts job on how to become a ux designerThere are two important things to remember:

  • Your experience as a remote online student is a huge advantage in an economy where employers are increasingly be hiring for remote roles.
  • Your “newcomer status” is actually appealing to employers. Unlike experienced designers, you’re coming in without any (or very few) preconceptions, and good employers will appreciate—and seek out—the fresh perspectives you bring.

At the same time, good companies want to invest in people they can train and develop, and that often means taking on newly qualified designers with little or no experience. The key is to identify the unique skills and perspectives you bring to the industry and to highlight them in your applications.

Of course, that’s something your career coach will help you with (just make sure you choose a UX design program that offers extensive career coaching as part of the package. If you want to learn more and survey some options, we’ve created a complete guide to the best UX design certification programs).

As we’ve seen, UX design jobs are still in plentiful supply; as long as you target the right companies (in high-growth sectors, for example) and market yourself correctly, you should find that you have plenty of opportunities in the field.

5. How much can UX designers expect to earn?

How much you earn as a UX designer depends on several factors, such as where you live, the kind of company and industry you work for, and your level of experience.

At the time of this writing, the average yearly salary of a UX designer in the United States is $91,225, dependent on location, experience, seniority, and specialized skills.

The best way to gauge your earning potential as a newly qualified UX designer is to check salary data for your local area using sites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and Payscale. You can also check out our full UX designer salary guide to see how salaries vary around the world.

A world map listing the average UX designer salary in different locations

It’s a great time to become a UX designer!

Hopefully, you now have a clear understanding of the UX job market, as well as the kinds of opportunities and challenges you might face as a UX designer in 2024. Now is an especially exciting time to become a UX designer.

It’s never been more important to create thoughtful, enjoyable, and inclusive user experiences—and, as a UX designer, you can have a hand in shaping the products and services of the future.

6. How to become a UX designer: Key takeaways

So, what do you think? Is UX design for you? As you’ve seen, breaking into the field of UX design requires the development of a varied skill set—and that’s exactly what makes it such an exciting field.

You’ll need to do lots of reading and plenty of hands-on practice, and you’ll have to learn how to tell your story as a UX designer.

Regardless of whether or not you have previous industry experience or a current job title, following the eight key steps we’ve outlined in this guide will place you firmly on the right path to becoming a bona fide UX designer.

Are you ready to make it happen? Discover your complete career-change package with our UX Design Program.

You can also test the waters first with the free UX design short course or speak directly with a UX program advisor

For further reading, check out the following guides:

7. Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about how to become a UX designer

1. What qualifications do I need to be a UX designer?

To become a UX designer, having a certified qualification in UX design, interaction design, graphic design, or a related field is useful. Some professionals also enter the field with alternative educational backgrounds or through self-study.

However, it’s most essential to develop a strong skill set in user research, information architecture, wireframing, prototyping, usability testing, and interaction design. 

Familiarity with design tools like Sketch or Figma is also beneficial, along with a deep understanding of user-centered design principles and the ability to collaborate effectively with cross-functional teams.

2. How do I get into UX with no experience?

Getting into UX design without prior experience is possible with the right approach. Start by acquiring knowledge and understanding of UX design principles through online resources, tutorials, and books. Explore free or low-cost UX courses available on platforms like CareerFoundry, Udemy, or LinkedIn Learning, and build a portfolio of personal projects or redesign existing websites or apps to demonstrate your skills to potential employers. 

Additionally, consider participating in UX design challenges or competitions to showcase your problem-solving abilities. Networking with professionals in the field, attending UX events, and seeking mentorship can also provide valuable guidance and opportunities for entry-level positions or internships.

3. How do I become a UX designer without a degree?

While having a degree in UX design or a related field can be advantageous, it is possible to become a UX designer without a formal degree. Start by acquiring knowledge of UX principles, methodologies, and processes through online courses, tutorials, and self-study resources.

Consider taking on freelance projects or volunteer opportunities to gain real-world experience. Building a strong portfolio that showcases your practical skills and problem-solving abilities is essential, as is learning the necessary industry tools.

Finally, networking within the UX community, attending industry events, and seeking mentorship can also provide valuable connections and insights.


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