It is not uncommon to hear that an individual becomes a UX designer without a degree. Yes, such people exist, and they are bloody good at what they do. In the past, The common trend was – to go to college to attain a college degree, join an organization based on that degree, learn that one defined role designated to you, and stick to that till you can retire. Fast-forward to the present, things are very different – you need to prove your mind before you can be a part of an organization – they test your knowledge and skillset based on the profile even for an entry-level position.
Innovative organizations are bringing forth new career paths for individuals with multidisciplinary skillset. It is an exciting time to learn on the job. Educational systems are not able to cope with such demanding times and are lacking behind. It is the case for new technology such as User Experience, Data Science, Digital Marketing, Robotics, or even Cyber Security.
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Well, I have spoken to a UX designer without a degree – she is pretty amazing at her job and is doing great. I am a UX writer now, but I was not taught to be one, yet here we are! I am not going to dispute the fact that a degree in UX design paves a smoother path, provided that you also possess the relevant skills along with the certificate to get a job.
Every organization from a startup to a conglomerate has an online presence to promote its products and services. But how does one become a UX designer without a degree? Is it necessary to have a formal education? Let us discuss this, shall we?
UX design from scratch
To become a UX designer without a degree, you have to start from the basics. The term user experience describes the experience that a user has from interacting with a product or service. You may also enroll for the latest batch of UX UI Course here!
What is user experience design, I mentioned that UX design is a process that considers every element that shapes an experience. UX design is a multidisciplinary field as an amalgamation of psychology, information architecture, sociology, visual design, aesthetics, and usability. User experience, be it good or bad, is not coincidental; it is a direct result of good or bad design! That’s why UX design considers every element: be it for an app or a website or a handheld device.
A deeper dive into the subject will lead you through topics like Design principles, design thinking test, user research plan, one stop testing, UI design for beginners, or even human-centred design. Covering these topics, for a start, will give you a working understanding of UX design from scratch.
How to Become a UX Designer with no experience
Mastering the ux methodologies is 10 percent theory and 90 percent practice. Many available online UX courses are theoretical, making the learning process banal and unpleasant due to lack of practice.
- Learn the basics: Understand the principles of user-centered design, user research, and design thinking. There are many free resources available online such as blogs, articles, and tutorials.
- Gain experience: Participate in design challenges, create your own projects, and contribute to open-source projects. This will help you build a portfolio of work to showcase your skills to potential employers.
- Network: Attend design meetups, conferences, and other events in your area. This will give you the opportunity to meet other designers and learn about job opportunities.
- Be persistent and keep learning: Stay up to date with the latest design trends and tools, and continue to expand your knowledge and skills.
Many people are trying to become UX designers without a degree, like college grads fresh off the boat, graphic designers looking for a career change, and people from other creative fields. The best part is that it is manageable to become a UX designer without a degree as the bar is set pretty low due to high demand. Please do not expect me to do a sales pitch stating NO DEGREE, NO PROBLEM! However, from personal experience, I can share a few pointers that can help you in your journey –
There are hundreds of books you can find and buy on UX design. Books like The Design of Everyday Things or Don’t Make Me Think come highly recommended. If you are not into that kind of thing, then visit articles, blogs, and podcasts by UX designers in your free time. The idea here is to learn UX design to the best of your abilities, which will help you in your subsequent journey to becoming a UX designer without a degree.
Pick up a few excellent books to increase your designer perspective
Here are a few highly recommended books for learning about UX design and starting your journey into the world of User Experience Design:
- “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug – A classic book that provides a clear and concise introduction to the principles of web usability.
- “Seductive Interaction Design” by Stephen Anderson – This book explores how to create engaging and intuitive user experiences through storytelling and other design techniques.
- “Designing Interfaces” by Jenifer Tidwell – A comprehensive guide to designing interfaces for web and mobile applications, covering everything from layout and navigation to visual design and user testing.
- “About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design” by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann, and David Cronin – This book provides a solid introduction to the field of interaction design, with a focus on the design of digital products and services.
- “The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience” by Rex Hartson and Pardha Pyla – This book provides a thorough introduction to the UX design process, including user research, prototyping, and evaluation.
Look For Mentor(s)
A great asset will be a mentor in this journey – say Mr. Miyagi to your Daniel LaRusso. You will need someone who is your go-to person for questions or concerns: a veteran in this field who is knowledgeable. You can find such a person by becoming a part of a community.
Pick a Bootcamp
While you learn UX design, an essential precursor that can make things painless is to pick up a user experience course. It will help you prep on the most imperative concepts and tools, allowing you to use them as a practice freely.
After your rigorous training in your respective user experience course, the next step in your journey to becoming a UX designer without a degree is to apply it in the real world. The best way to reflect experience in the field to the recruiters is via an internship or freelance job.
Start Job Hunting
After all that hard work, now you are ready to look for jobs. Remember, the best jobs in UX design become attainable through word of mouth over LinkedIn, Naukri, or even Glassdoor. Since you’re a UX designer without a degree, the best way to job-search is by interacting with people from different organizations. With a well-built portfolio and a little luck, you can line up a handful of interviews leading to an offer or two.
UX designer for beginners
Becoming a UX designer without a degree might be manageable, yet UX design is a complex field. Adding to that is the complicated job description setup by the recruiter(s), which scares away candidates with a degree, let alone UX designers for beginners.
As a beginner, some ways to get started in UX design include:
Learn the basics: Understand the principles of user-centered design and familiarize yourself with the tools and techniques used in UX design.
Build a portfolio: Create a portfolio of your work to showcase your skills and abilities to potential employers.
Get feedback: Share your work with others and gather feedback to improve your designs.
Practice: Keep practicing and experimenting with different design methods to improve your skills and find your own design style.
Seek for UX design courses to learn the basics and gain hands-on experience.
Volunteer or intern: Get some real-world experience by volunteering or interning with a company or organization that specializes in UX design.
But there is a simple and effective way to work around this as well –
Gain knowledgeable Experience
Since you are a newbie UX designer without a degree, the best way to gain experience is by pursuing DIY projects. Pick amongst the following options, whichever best suits you –
- You can redesign an existing product, service, or experience. Just pick one where you see room for improvement and make your solution look unique and pleasant.
- Pitch some pro-bono work for a non-profit organization.
- Join designations like UXHack or Design360 to collaborate and compete with other newbies.
- Aid a local organization gains an online presence with your problem-solving skills.
The goal here is to develop unique and sturdy case studies using your knowledge and skill set. Remember to focus on uniqueness rather than perfection whilst you look for a job. Again, the more interviews you give, the more you can adapt and reflect confidence in the recruiters and your vitality as a UX designer.
Join a UX Community
Think about joining a Design community like UX India or UX Beginner to help you gain mentors and job opportunities. Meetups can be enlightening. It would allow you, a UX designer without a degree, to connect with like-minded people who can help review and improve your work, update your knowledge with the latest trend, and get the word out about new job opportunities.
Here are a few international and national communities for a budding UX designer:
- International Association of User Experience Professionals (IAUXP)
- User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA)
- User Experience Designers (UXD) Group on LinkedIn
- Behavioural Insights Community
- User Experience Researchers Association (UXRA)
- Interaction Design Foundation (IDF)
- The Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA)
- User Experience Professionals Network (UXPN)
- Product Design & UX Meetup Group
- User Experience & Design Group on Facebook
While I was writing this blog, this line from War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy comes to mind – there is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness, and truth.
The career you have chosen will involve a similar pursuit of smart and simplistic solutions to intricate issues. You would also need to utilize goodness and truth to solve those issues by empathizing with the users.
Please understand one thing – I would never encourage you to skip a graduate degree because it comes with its own set of benefits. There shouldn’t be anything stopping you from becoming a UX designer without a degree – to do great things and become successful. Just remember to leave no stone unturned.