Are UX Bootcamps Worth It? Expectation vs. Reality

CareerFoundry Marketing Content Editor Jaye Hannah

Are online UX bootcamps worth it? Are they isolating and lonely? Are UX bootcamps taken seriously by employers? Keep reading to find out!

UX design can be an incredibly lucrative and rewarding field to enter into—and UX bootcamps are renowned for being one of the best avenues into the vocation. Flexible, self-paced learning and a practical, in-depth education are just a few of the benefits of studying with a UX bootcamp; but if you’re not accustomed to the format of online learning (or it’s been a while since you were last a student) you’ve probably made a few assumptions about choosing this particular path.

Many students find that the reality of studying with an online UX design bootcamp is actually starkly different from their expectations. If you’ve garnered some misconceptions about UX bootcamps, or you’re not sure what you’re in for—we’re here to clear the air.

In this article, we’ll take a look at five of the most common expectations people have about studying with an online UX design bootcamp. By the end of this blog post, you’ll have a clear sense of what it’s really like to take an online course. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  1. Expectation: Studying with a UX bootcamp is isolating and lonely
  2. Expectation: UX bootcamps aren’t taken seriously by employers
  3. Expectation: UX bootcamps are super easy
  4. Expectation: UX bootcamps can only offer theory-based content
  5. Expectation: I need a tech background to do well in a UX bootcamp

Before we dive in: If you’d like an overview of what a UX bootcamp is and whether or not you should do one, check out this video:

And if you’d like an easy introduction to the world of UX, get started on a free UX design short course.

Alright! Let’s set those expectations straight.

1. Expectation: Studying with a UX bootcamp is isolating and lonely

One of the most notable distinctions between an online UX bootcamp and a more conventional educational institution is the lack of face to face communication. You might think that studying online means you lose the social and community aspect that is so synonymous with further education. Without fellow students in the room with you to ideate and collaborate with, it can seem like a rather lonely prospect. For this reason, it’s easy to feel put off by such an autonomous way of learning.

Reality: You’ll have a strong support network

While a UX bootcamp may seem like a lonely and solitary journey to take from the outside, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth! UX bootcamps have robust virtual support networks made up of students, tutors and mentors alike.

Most UX bootcamps have active facebook groups, slack channels, or other platforms which enable you to connect with your fellow students online. In the age of the internet, there’s nothing to stop you discussing the course content and bouncing ideas off your peerseven if you’re not in the same room! It’s super easy to find a study buddy who’s in the same time zone (or even city) as you, who can motivate you to stay focused, and allow you to share and exchange knowledge. You can also be each other’s accountability partners, checking in with each other regularly and keeping each other on track while working towards a common goal.

Some UX bootcamps will even set you up with a mentor. Your mentor is there to guide you through the entire process, checking in with you regularly on Skype and phone calls and providing fresh perspectives on any challenges you might face. You can learn more about the value of having a mentor (and how to make the most out of yours) in this blog post.

2. Expectation: UX bootcamps aren’t taken seriously by employers

A UX design hiring manager interviewing a bootcamp graduate
Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

A common reservation many have when considering enrolling in a UX bootcamp is that they aren’t taken seriously by future employers compared to traditional university degrees. This stems from the fact that UX bootcamps tend to take a lot less time, and can be completed alongside a full-time job. Without the same weight or ‘prestige’ of a university degree, many feel that they won’t come out of it with the same sense of achievement that a traditional degree might offer. You might assume that a UX bootcamp qualification won’t stack up against competitors who have university degrees in UX design, or similar vocations.

Reality: UX bootcamps are highly respected ways of learning

UX bootcamps are internationally recognized as one of the best and most thorough entry points into the field. In the digital age, old fashioned stigmas surrounding online learning are long outdated. Even top-ranking universities have begun offering online alternatives to their degree programs. As the distinction between studying online and in a physical classroom becomes more blurred, employers are placing less emphasis on how or where you studied UX design—instead focusing on your portfolio, and what you can offer to the company.

The key here is to choose a quality online course that will prepare you for the industry. The practical nature of the exercises paired with the real-world projects you’ll be working on means you’ll come out of the course feeling well-prepared for a career as a UX designer. Many UX bootcamps even offer specialized job preparation courses that ensure your interview skills, portfolio, and CV are of the highest standard.

Most employers respect the dedication and self-discipline involved in committing to a career change into UX design—as opposed to ‘falling into it’ straight after school. This shows them that you’ve taken the time to understand if UX design is really right for you.

In case you don’t believe us, below is a quote from CareerFoundry Alumna Amanda regarding a job interview for a designer role:

“On the call, I was asked to break down my entire educational experience from CareerFoundry. She wanted to know just how thorough my education had been, and how well prepared I was for a job as a UX/UI designer. She was highly impressed.” You can read Amanda’s career-change story here.

3. Expectation: UX bootcamps are super easy

Three UX bootcamp students gathered at a table, working on a project
Photo by from Pexels

A common misconception about UX bootcamps is that they’re super easy, and don’t require a considerable amount of hard work. You might expect that the course material and content will be straightforward enough to simply ‘skim-read’or that, in the absence of a conventional exam system (or teachers watching over you), you won’t need a lot of concentration to make it through the course.

Reality: UX bootcamps require lots of hard work

While it’s certainly true that you don’t need any specific qualifications to enroll in a UX bootcamp, UX bootcamps require just as much hard work, dedication, and concentration as any other form of education. You’ll have to be extremely organized about your schedule, and ensure you can dedicate a minimum number of hours to your studies every week. Alongside the course, you’ll also be expected to immerse yourself in UX design through networking and independent projects. When it comes to UX bootcamps, you get out what you put inand future employers will be able to tell how much you engaged with the course content!

4. Expectation: UX bootcamps can only offer theory-based content

Considering the tech-based nature of the course (and the lack of in-person interaction), you might expect that UX bootcamps offer exclusively theory-based content rather than practical work. Many people assume they’ll do vast amounts of reading, with the occasional exercise to accompany the theoryand let’s be honest, that doesn’t seem hugely exciting…

Reality: UX bootcamps offer a balance of theory and practical work

Quality UX bootcamps are designed to have rigorous, well-rounded syllabuses that have a strong focus on the current real-world skills that you’ll need as a UX designer in today’s job market. If you opt for a more hands-on UX bootcamp, you’ll be given exercises to accompany the reading materials, as well as a compilation of learning resources like videos and worksheets. You’ll get to immediately apply what you’ve learned to relevant, practical projects that will form the foundation of your professional portfolio.

If you’re learning UX design from scratch, it’s crucial to choose a bootcamp that will help you build your portfolio. Your portfolio is a personal website that hosts a selection of your work and introduces you as a designer. You can learn more about how to create a killer UX design portfolio in this informative blog post!

5. Expectation: I need a tech background to do well in a UX bootcamp

A group of designers from various backgrounds, gathered around a table with their laptops
Photo by fauxels from Pexels

You might be thinking that you need design-related qualificationsor at least a solid background in techin order to be successful on the course or to land a job in the field. Maybe you’re experiencing a bout of impostor syndrome, or you’re grappling with the notion that your current field is too far removed from UX design for you to become a UX designer in your own right.

Reality: All you need is the passion!

The truth is, all you really need to enroll in a UX bootcamp is a strong interest in UX design and the desire to become a UX designer. A good UX bootcamp will be designed to take you from total beginner to job-ready, so don’t worry if you don’t have a background in design! If you’re already reading books and blog posts about UX, that’s a sign that you’re probably ready to enroll in a UX bootcamp.

10If you’re still unsure about whether a UX bootcamp course is for you, it’s always worth reaching out to people who have taken the course themselves and quizzing them about their experiences!

Want to learn more about what it’s really like to study with a UX bootcamp? Check out our blog post on juggling a UX bootcamp course with a full-time job. And to learn more about how to pick a UX bootcamp, here are a few articles you’ll find helpful:

(Cover image by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels)

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