Changing careers can be a challenging experience, and it's common to feel lost and unsure about where to begin. With so many possibilities and new information to consider, it can be overwhelming.
However, the first step is to gather information about the UX field, including job responsibilities, growth opportunities, salary expectations, and areas of expertise within UX.
We have compiled some tips to assist you in becoming a UX Designer.
Check them out below!
1) Understand why you want to work with UX Design
Human beings have the urge to feel like they are contributing to the world and that what they do significantly impacts people. That what they do matters somehow.
Of course, we can't always afford to be picky, but if given the option, you would prefer to do something that you enjoy and that makes you feel satisfied at the end of the day, right?
That's why it's good to have it clear in your mind why UX Design appeals to you. What makes you consider it?
These are some of the common reasons why UX Designers are happy with their careers:
- Growing market and plenty of opportunity;
- Good salaries;
- Strategic area;
- Conducting research about human behavior;
- Satisfaction in helping people.
"With UX and UI, I was able to really impact people's lives, understand their pains and needs and be able to deliver my best to them." Diogo Alvarez
2) Study the processes within UX Design
A survey by NN/g asked respondents what their range of responsibilities as UX Designers was.
The results showed 3 major activities:
- Visual Design
Their responsibilities vary from designing prototypes to collaborating with subject-matter experts or conducting usability tests.
So if you want to start a career in UX, it is important to dedicate yourself to studying all UX processes. There will always be an activity you'll be better at, but it's important to have a good knowledge of all of them as companies need professionals who can perform multiple activities.
3) Don't worry about your background
Usually, people working in UX have a design-related education and skills in using prototyping tools or visual design. Also, it's common to find UX designers with some coding skills. This happens not because it's mandatory, but because it's a more natural transition since the fields relate more and UX salaries are very attractive.
But you definitely don't need a background in design to pivot into UX Design. Actually, having different expertise can be an advantage. Many of our students came from different backgrounds and reported that this helped them greatly.
Check out some of their testimonials about this:
"UX Design is a profession that embraces several other areas, such as Psychology and Processes. That way, having a different background is interesting, as some experience from your previous career will be leveraged." Diego Crovador
"After landing my first job in UX, I can see several points in common between Law and UX Design. Today, I realize that much of my background is quite useful." Maria Resende
"Every experience is valid for the other activities you perform. For example, I spent a lot of time working with customer service, which today helps me communicate and empathize with users when conducting tests or interviews." Fabia Coelho
Invest in your Soft Skills
Now that you know that having a background in other areas does not interfere with your UX design career, it is important to highlight what can make a difference for you in this process.
Soft Skills are important behavioral skills that UX Designers must have to improve their work and achieve better project results.
Some examples of important soft skills for you to master:
- Good Communication;
- Detachment from ideas;
- Autonomy and teamwork;
Reading Tip: 5 Soft Skills to Make a Difference as a Designer
4) If possible, be picky about your first job
When you first come across job opportunities, give preference to the position that enables you to work with various activities in UX Design – if you have the choice, of course. From user research and usability testing to interface design.
The first experience is important for you to put your theoretical UX learning into practice, as well as to improve your soft skills and familiarize yourself with all the processes of this new career.
Additionally, search for companies that have good UX maturity. Mature companies recognize UX as a strategic area and have the budget to invest in the area.
Starting at a company that provides this environment will certainly increase your learning speed.
5) Follow UX Designers on social media
One of the best ways to stay up to date on the UX job market is to follow UX Designers on social media. LinkedIn, Twitter, and platforms like Medium are great for this.
Besides staying in with the latest practices, it can be a learning opportunity to read about their opinions, tips, and experiences. It's also a good way to stay motivated and inspired.
Here are some indications of designers to follow:
- Julie Zhuo – Product Design VP on Facebook;
- Jared M. Spool — Founder of CenterCentre;
- Chris Messina — Developer Experience Lead na Uber;
6) Use LinkedIn and build a portfolio!
LinkedIn is essential for networking, searching for job opportunities, and, most importantly, being seen by recruiters.
With that in mind, it is indispensable that you have a LinkedIn profile. But of course, don't forget to keep it updated!
On LinkedIn, follow companies and professionals you admire to stay up-to-date and read the opinions and trends of these content creators.
Besides LinkedIn, an indispensable tool for UX Designers is their portfolio.
Your portfolio will show companies how your work is and how your mind solves problems.
The portfolio showcases all your potential as a designer, besides demonstrating your personality.
Reading Tip: LinkedIn for Designers: Tips to Boost Your Profile
But how can I have a portfolio if I am a beginner?
The first thought that comes to mind when you are starting in UX Design is exactly that. If I have no experience, how can I put together a portfolio?
Well, you can use exercise projects. The purpose of an exercise project is to learn, practice, and build your portfolio.
For example, in our Mastering Interface Design (MID) program, at each level, there is an exercise that can result in a project for your initial portfolio. The course mentors are very strict about this, making the quality of your project perfect for a showcase.
Many students in our course have used the MID projects in their portfolios and have successfully conquered a UX opportunity.
"I had a job interview and was able to put together a portfolio overnight. Then, I put together 3 pieces plus a complete study case, using the MID program exercises. I presented the portfolio and passed the process." Joyce Almazan
"Also, during the program I was building my portfolio through the proposed UX, UI, and redesign projects and the meticulous guidance from the mentors and the help from the Aela Community on Slack. So, everything I was doing, I used as a resource to compose my portfolio and present them in the interviews." Fabia Coelho
7) Connect with other designers
Connecting with other professionals is very important. Networking is essential for any profession, especially at the beginning of a career.
Participating in UX Design communities allows you to exchange ideas and experiences with those who have been or are going through the same situation as you. Besides, it is quite common for job opportunities to be advertised within the communities.
In the communities, getting a mentor who can help you at the beginning of your career is common.
Aela has a community for MID students. It's amazing the exchange of experiences, ideas and partnerships that exists there. Our mentors also participate actively, which makes for a lot of learning and knowledge as well.
8) Learn, study and learn some more
The path to starting a career in UX Design is not easy, and there is no saying otherwise. But it is not impossible.
One tip that can be more of a tug at reality is: there are no shortcuts.
You have to be dedicated and have determination. So study hard! Consume a lot of content. Easy access to information allows you to get good sources of learning and knowledge. Therefore, costs and investments are no longer an excuse for you not to study.
Furthermore, watch lectures and read books about design processes and methods. In addition to searching for free content, a great source of learning about UX and building your portfolio comes from courses, such as our Mastering Interface Design (MID) program.
9) Learn about the MID program
A course is a great source of knowledge and learning for starting your UX design career.
We know there are several difficulties when it comes to choosing a course or even if it is necessary to go to college to pivot to UX Design.
With this and many other factors in mind – such as lack of practical knowledge, outdated curriculum, inflexible course load, and high financial investment – we created the Mastering Interface Design program.
This course aims to address the deficiencies and difficulties people encounter when pivoting to UX, which often makes it impossible for them to get the knowledge and practice needed to achieve their career goals.
Our mentors have international careers and follow up with each student, guiding them in the best way to execute each project proposed per level of the program.
This approach ensures that the students really apply the knowledge acquired in each level of the course and enables them to build a portfolio focused on UX.
Or, if you prefer, send us a message!
Check out what our students say about the MID program:
"The classes are great. There are a lot of projects throughout the course and you get to feel your own evolution through these projects. I think the requirement is also very good, because we are trained to detail our portfolio as much as possible, which is essential in UX/UI Design. For anyone pivoting to this area, I recommend doing it!" Daniel Hidelbrant
"The most important thing is to find a course like MID. It will help you better understand the concepts and develop projects that you can use as a portfolio to pursue job opportunities." Diego Crovador
"About the MID, in the beginning I didn't know anything about UX. I started from scratch and the course helped me a lot. From the software part, the attitude of thinking about the user, what you are doing and why you are doing it. That's what saved me in Dublin. I think without it, I wouldn't have gotten even the first opportunity." Inis Leahy
"I found MID program and it broadened my horizons, improved my concepts, how I develop methods and processes." Neudson Costa.
Making a career change is not easy. But we hope these tips have helped you and enlightened your path to UX design.