Career Path Series: User Experience (UX) Design

People doing UX design on paper

What is User Experience?

According to ProductPlan “User Experience (UX) refers to the feeling users experience when using a product, application, system, or service. It is a broad term that can cover anything from how well the user can navigate the product, how easy it is to use, and how relevant the content displayed is.” 

As an everyday example, consider how you felt when you last searched for a product from an online retailer. Was their website pleasant and well organized? Was it easy to find the right color and size of the item you wanted? Was there a way to find help, if needed? What made your overall experience better or worse? These are all things the site has some control over – and by ensuring a seamless experience from start to finish, you’ll be more likely to purchase the item, leave satisfied, and possibly return to buy something again in the future. 

What does a typical UX Designer role entail?

According to Indeed, UX Designers are found in a variety of businesses across industries including specialized technology firms. They work closely with web developers and user interface designers. Their primary responsibilities are to create products that appeal to their employer’s target audiences and perform tests on website features and software products ensuring functionality. They are also oftentimes charged with reviewing competitor websites and product offerings to improve engagement with their own company website.

Here is a list of typical responsibilities:

  • Product structure and strategy
  • Content development
  • Coordinate with User Interface Designers (the actual visual designers)
  • Conduct user research and testing
  • Create user personas and prototypes
  • Determine the information architecture of a digital product
  • Design user flows or wireframes

What type of backgrounds do UX designers have?

UX Designers have the end goal of making the entire customer experience straightforward and positive. A career in User Experience requires both technical knowledge and an understanding of people, so many have backgrounds in graphic design, product development, computer science, or psychology.

UX Designers should be proficient in HTML/CSS and JavaScript. They should also be familiar with design software like Adobe XD, Sketch, and UXPin.

Because the field is complex, education requirements are high – definitely a Bachelor’s degree, but often a Master’s degree is needed as well. Here are a few suggestions for online graduate opportunities:

Arizona State University - Master of Science in User Experience

Brandeis University - Master of Science in User-Centered Design

Drexel University - Master of Science in UX and Human-Computer Interaction

Worcester Polytechnic Institute - Master of Science in Innovation User Experience Design

Please note that all of these institutions are members of the EdAssist Education Network and offer 10%-25% off tuition rates to client employees.

Certifications are a useful way to obtain specialized skills and can be a helpful addition to a more general degree program. If the interest is there, the payoff is high – UX Designers are very well paid, and it definitely seems we will be interacting with computers and apps for the near future!

Norman Nielsen group offers two levels of UX certification: UX Certification and UX Master Certification. Human Factors International also features two levels of UX certification: Certified Usability Analyst (CUA) and Certified User Experience Analyst (CXA).

What is the job outlook?

According to Glassdoor, the average UX salary in the United States is around $85,000 and can go as high as $128,000 for senior roles. They also indicate there are currently over 20,000 open positions in the field and added UX Designer to their list of the best 50 jobs to have in 2021.

There is an increasing need for UX professionals. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts jobs in this field will increase by 8% which is much faster than average. Businesses are finding they need to invest more in their UX in order to keep a competitive edge. Additionally, since the start of COVID-19, more and more companies are expanding their online offerings. This has resulted in an increase need for professionals in the field.

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About the Author
Joanna Bandte
Academic Coach
Prior to joining EdAssist, Joanna worked as an academic advisor at Northeastern University for ten years. During her time at Northeastern, she provided academic and career counseling to students in a wide range of majors. She also taught an introductory course for undecided students, served as the head of transfer programs in the College of Business, and helped thousands of students graduate successfully. Joanna loves helping every type of learner meet their educational goals and maximize their tuition assistance dollars. She has a bachelor's degree in Psychology from Emory University and a dual master's in Counseling Psychology and School Guidance from Lesley University.
People doing UX design on paper

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