Tutorial 6: How (And Why) To Become A Professional UX Designer
“Hi! Congratulations on reaching the final tutorial in this UX design short course. I’m Raffaela, one of CareerFoundry’s co-founders. Pleased to meet you! 😀You should now have a good understanding of what UX design is, its different subsets, the skills you need to learn to become a UX designer, and how you can display these skills to potential employers. As a final step, I’m going to give you an overview of the current job market. If you’d like to find out more about the industry or our full, career-change UX design course, speak to one of our excellent Career Advisors.”
So what are we going to do today?
Launching a career in a new field can be daunting. It takes a lot of guts to make the leap, and most people won’t consider it without plenty of research. That’s why, in today’s tutorial, I’ll be providing some key insights into the UX industry. By the end of this lesson, you should feel more confident about pursuing that coveted career in UX design!
We’ll look at:
- Average UX designer salaries
- Are UX designers in demand?
- How do I become a UX designer?
- Practical exercise
Are you ready to discover what the UX job market has to offer? Let’s take a look!
1. Average UX designer salaries
As is often the case when it comes to salaries, there isn’t a great deal of transparency or consistency out there. However, sites like Glassdoor, indeed, and PayScale can help you gauge what kind of salary you might expect based on your experience and location.
To give you an idea of what UX designers tend to earn, we’ve gathered some figures from a few different online surveys and presented them as salary ranges below.
Average UX designer salaries in the US & Canada
As a junior UX designer in the US, you’ll already be earning more than the national average salary, which stood at around $46,000 at the end of 2018. The same can be said for Canada, with junior UX designer salary ranges exceeding the national average salary of $51,000 (as of 2017). Take a look at this 2019 design census for a more in-depth report on designer salaries.
Now let’s take a look at UX designer salaries in the United Kingdom and Europe.
Average UX designer salaries in the UK & Europe
As a junior UX designer in the UK, you can expect to surpass the national average salary, which was around £29,000 at the end of 2018.
To give you an idea of how UX designers fare across Europe, we’ve also consulted PayScale for a few average salaries. We found that, at the time of writing, entry level UX designers earn an average salary of €39,427 in Germany, €41,000 in France, €30,896 in the Netherlands, and €30,000 in Spain.
For a more comprehensive study on global salary ranges for UX design roles, check out the UX Designer Salaries global survey. For specific and up-to-date information on salary ranges in your area, head to PayScale, indeed, or Glassdoor.
As you can see, a career in UX design has quite the impressive earning potential! But what about the demand? Even the most high-paying job won’t be much use if there aren’t any vacancies, so let’s explore just how in-demand UX designers really are.
2. Are UX designers in demand?
If you’re considering a career in UX design, you’ll be pleased to know that the demand for UX designers continues to increase! As more and more companies recognize just how important great design is to the success of their product or service, UX designers are seen as a crucial part of any product team. Ultimately, if users have a great experience with a product, they’re more likely to continue using it. They might even recommend it to their friends and family! The latter is especially important these days—few businesses are able to argue against the power of the customer review, after all.
“88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience.” (Justin Mifsud, founder, UsabilityGeek)
In fact, it has actually been proven that businesses who put good design first enjoy a competitive advantage. Studies have shown that, over a ten-year period, design-driven companies consistently outperformed the S&P (stock market index) by 219%. That’s a huge advantage! As companies recognize the ROI of good design, the keener they are to hire UX designers—good news for anyone considering a career in the field. You can get a detailed overview of the ROI of UX design in our whitepaper.
So we know that businesses need (and want) great UX designers, but how does this translate in the real world?
According to Emsi’s job posting analytics (based on data from tens of thousands of job sites), there were, on average, 4,200 UX jobs posted per month in 2016. At the time of writing this tutorial, a search for UX designer roles on indeed brings up over 8,000 vacancies in the US alone.
In 2017, Adobe conducted research on the demand for UX designers in the United States. They found that, out of 500 department leads and HR managers, 87% said that hiring UX designers was a top priority. 73% said they planned on doubling their UX personnel over the next 5 years, while 40% said they planned on doubling their UX hires in the next year alone. That’s a lot of UX designer jobs!
Not only are UX designers in high demand; they’re also lucky enough to hold one of the most rewarding occupations out there. In 2017, UX designer was listed by CBS News as one of the top 10 jobs to have in America! Not surprising when you consider the fulfilling nature of the work and the above-average earning potential, right?
With all those stats in mind, you might be wondering how you can get on board the UX train. Let’s consider that now!
3. How do I become a UX designer?
The great thing about UX design is that there are no specific prerequisites—we’ve seen people from all walks of life and professional backgrounds become successful UX designers. You don’t even need to have any professional UX experience to start working on your portfolio!
Still, becoming a UX designer requires dedication and hard work, and there are a few different routes you can take into the field. So what are your options? Let’s take a look.
The Internet is full of great resources on UX design principles and practices—everything from what employers are looking for to how to get started on your portfolio. Some great resources we often recommend to our students include:
You’ll also find UX designer meetup groups and workshops all over the world. Try doing a quick search to see if there are any near you.
While it’s essential to do your own research and background reading, going it entirely alone can be tricky. With no one to guide you, it can be hard to know if you’re learning all the right things or exactly what to put in your portfolio. If you’re serious about starting a career in UX, it’s best to couple self-study with a more systematic approach led by someone with experience in the field.
Non-Mentored Online Courses
As mentioned before, you can find a great many helpful resources on the Internet. There are also quite a few non-mentored online courses in UX design. These provide a more synchronous basis than self-study and are often self-paced and low-cost—if not free of charge. You can find non-mentored courses with the following organizations:
Much like self-study, you’ll be largely going it alone if you follow this route. You won’t have a dedicated expert to help you when you get stuck, or to keep you motivated towards the end goal. While you can find advice on the Internet, the support you get will likely be conflicting (there are often no right or wrong answers in UX design) and unrelated to your learning pattern, unique strengths, and career goals. Non-mentored courses are also very rarely project-based, so while they can be informative and a good way to get started in UX, they’re unlikely to help you develop your professional UX portfolio. Remember: employers want to see mastery of both the principles of UX and the hands-on skills, so a mixture of both is key!
When it comes to structured programs, you’ll come across three types: in-person, blended, and online. In-person programs operate much like a regular school, where you’re required to attend in-person. Blended programs are more flexible—typically, half of the instruction will be online with the other half in-person. Lastly, online programs are 100% online, with no in-person attendance required.
For career changers and individuals juggling multiple commitments, online programs with ongoing mentorship and real-time check-ins are the best option.They’re not only flexible but affordable as well, and you don’t have to stop everything you’re doing to pursue your studies. You can still keep your job, spend time with family and friends, and work on personal projects while taking the first steps towards a new career.
With CareerFoundry’s Certified UX Design Course, you’ll have all this and more, including a project-based curriculum designed and regularly updated to teach you the skills required by employers. From day one, you’ll be joined by a team of seasoned professionals who will offer you unparalleled support throughout your course, job search, and job start. Your new team will consist of a UX design mentor with over eight years of industry experience, a UX design tutor with over two years of experience, a career coach, and a student advisor. And of course you’ll also have access to the student and alumni communities. You’ll begin working on your first portfolio project right away, and by the end of the program, you’ll have everything you need to start your career in UX. To summarize, we’re essentially a full-service UX bootcamp—providing absolutely everything you need to go from complete beginner to professional UX designer—so no more directionless, frantic googling for tips, tutorials, and resources!
4. Practical exercise: Are you ready to start your career as a UX designer?
You’ve almost reached the end of your UX design short course—excellent job! As always, we’ll finish off with a practical exercise. Are you ready for your final mission? Here goes…
Now you know all about the UX job market, let’s start thinking about how you might make your career-change goals a reality. For today’s task, you’re going to devise a quick UX career roadmap! Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated or time-consuming as it might sound.
Start by listing three main hard skills and three main soft skills that you’ve gained in your career so far. Remember: hard skills are job-specific, while soft skills include things like communication, collaboration, and empathy. Next, list three hard skills and three soft skills that you think you’ll need as a UX designer. Are there any parallels between your existing skillset and those you’ll need for UX?
For the second part of your roadmap, consider the logistics of how you might start mastering those key UX skills. How many hours a week could you dedicate to learning UX? Which route of study would be the most viable option in terms of time and cost? Jot everything down next to your skills list!
Round off your roadmap with some mini market research. With the help of websites like indeed, PayScale, and Glassdoor, look up entry level UX designer roles and salaries in your location. Is there high demand in your area? Would you be in store for a salary increase if you switched to a career in UX?
Hopefully you’re now starting to see how your career-change into UX might take shape! If you’d like to discuss your options, remember you can book a call with one of our expert Career Advisors—they’ll be able to advise you based on your personal situation.
It’s a wrap!
That brings us to the end of the UX design short course—well done for sticking with it! We hope you’ve enjoyed it and that you come away feeling informed and excited about the wonderful world of UX design. As always, if you have any questions or would like more information about starting a career in UX, just reply to one of the emails that went with this course. And don’t forget to take the quiz below!
Take the quiz below to make sure you've learned all the important information—and that it really sticks!