Are you interested in starting your career in the booming field of UX design but don't have a college degree? You’re not alone! The interest in UX design is growing every day, and it has people questioning, “Can I be a UX designer without a degree?”
UX design has been growing in popularity as it becomes more necessary to our lives and businesses. UX, or user experience, design is the process of designing systems, like websites and apps, keeping the user front and center. It’s a necessary process that meets the needs of users, and makes products that are easy, efficient, and perhaps even fun to use! It’s a diverse field that allows designers to be creative, logical, empathetic, and to make a huge impact on our everyday lives.
In this article, we’ll explore exactly what you need to become a UX designer, and whether that includes a formal education.
UX Designers require a diverse set of skills, with a mix that can be transferred from your previous experiences, or learned outside of a university.
Soft or Transferable Skills:
Technical or Industry Skills:
As you can see, the soft skills valued in UX design are easily developed without the need for a college degree. As for technical skills? Well, you can develop these through the path that works best for you! Let’s dig deeper and explore what the path to UX design can look like without a college degree.
A degree can be useful, but it isn’t crucial or necessary for your career in UX design. Employers value unique perspectives and are more focused on your skill set and experience. Most employers would even say that your portfolio is what matters most in your job search.
So, if you don’t have a college degree, don’t want one, or have a degree in a field you’re worried doesn’t connect to UX, delight in the fact that you don’t need a college degree to become a successful UX designer. Many of the most established UX designers don’t have one, and many others have degrees in other fields, like nursing, education, or even poetry! So whether you just finished high school or you’re looking to change your career, there are several paths in your journey to UX that won’t require the time and financial burden often involved with pursuing a college degree. These paths include, online tutorials, self teaching, mentorship programs, and certified bootcamps. Let’s review each route.
Yes! You absolutely can teach yourself UX design. There are many free tutorials and resources online. Even the basics of Figma are easy enough to grasp with a bit of practice. Choosing the self-taught path to UX is often the most affordable, with free tutorials on youtube and a range of online courses under $100. The pace and timeframe to learn UX in the self-taught route is entirely dependent on you and how you schedule yourself.
This route requires a significant amount of motivation and self discipline to be successful. Further, you would still need to connect with people in the industry and seek out mentorship, which may be difficult to do if you don’t have a network, or if you’re introverted. Worry not if you identify with the latter. Introverts make great UX designers and UX researchers! But introverts and extroverts alike may find that starting out in UX can be overwhelming without structure. With its collaborative nature, you're going to want to be connected with experts in the field who can provide guidance, and maybe even a reference letter later on.
So, what are your options if you need the structure of formal education but are leaning towards those self-taught prices and flexibility? Let’s find out!
As mentioned, many successful UX designers come from a range of educational backgrounds such as psychology, graphic design, healthcare, and computer science. A great way to get an education focused on UX design while avoiding the time and cost commitment of a university is by enrolling in a UX design bootcamp.
A UX design bootcamp is a great way to learn new skills, network, find mentorship, build your portfolio, and even get job guidance by experts in the field. The best part is you don’t need relevant UX experience before joining a bootcamp. A UX design bootcamp offers the structure that you may need if you find the self-taught route not engaging enough. While a UX bootcamp usually operates within a specific timeframe, many are structured in a way that gives you the pace you need to juggle your other responsibilities. Ranging in cost and time commitment, there’s a bootcamp for everyone!
Read here for more on what you can do to prepare for your first day at a UX bootcamp!
The biggest challenges facing self-taught UX designers are finding mentorship, networking, and building a portfolio. As mentioned earlier, the self taught route can be a double edge sword because it provides you with the freedom to learn at your convenience, but it also leaves room for lack of motivation and sometimes people give up.
Finding mentorship and networking opportunities are crucial to your UX journey. Not only is UX a collaborative effort, but the current experts in the field are very open and excited to share their knowledge of the field with beginners. Their guidance is also valuable to your portfolio. A portfolio is the most important factor in landing a UX job, with or without a degree. A portfolio will showcase your ability to do the work, and speaks volumes above your education level or resume. Building one can be difficult without guidance, feedback, or project opportunities.
One of the reasons people often turn to college degrees is because it provides a learning experience that fosters feedback and discussion. The drawback of a college course is that you don’t have control over the size of your classroom, and professors have to divide themselves. Mentorship, however, provides specialized feedback from an expert. With a mentor, you receive one-on-one feedback that is tailored to you, your needs, and your goals, while they assess your strengths and weaknesses.
Finding mentorship can be difficult, but UX bootcamps offer one-on-one mentors who will help you build a portfolio, network, job search, and even negotiate your salary. Avocademy teaches students the entire design process with the end goal to kick start your portfolio!
Your UX design portfolio needs to showcase your design process through case studies. This can include user research, wireframing, prototyping, and visual design. Your portfolio should showcase:
Employers want your portfolio to show them who you are, what skills you possess, how you make an impact on user experiences, and how you will apply your expertise to their business. With a UX bootcamp like Avocadmey, you’ll get tailored training to make sure your portfolio shows all this through real world examples.
For resources on your portfolio building, check out the following:
A degree is not necessary to become a successful UX designer. With the right skills, resources, and mindset, anyone can become a UX designer. Don't let your educational background hold you back. Take advantage of the resources available to you and start building your portfolio by scheduling a call with a UX designer today!
Amanda Molina is an SEO content writer who loves palm trees, books, and glassblowing. She enjoys her avocados diced with tomatoes and balsamic vinegar.