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5 Ways To Influence Your Your Career Path as a UX Designer

Combining creativity with a wealth of technical skill, UX designers are responsible for making software, websites and apps work for people. And, as a result, they’re some of the most sought-after workers in today’s tech-driven world.

And designers love the job, too. UX designers report high career satisfaction and low on-the-job stress. In fact, recent research shows that out of over 700 UX professionals across the globe, 95% rated their career satisfaction at an average rating of 5.4 on a 1–7 scale.

With perks like fulfilling work, flexibility, competitive salaries, and being right in the thick of the exciting tech industry — without having to spend hours on a computer — it’s no wonder that more and more people are turning to UX design to reboot their career path.

What does a UX designer’s career path look like?

UX design requires a versatile and broad scope of knowledge — and that’s great, as there’s no one path a UX designer can follow. The flip-side is, this can be confusing for people trying to break into the world of UX

A future doctor knows she needs to go to medical school. A future teacher knows he needs to get a teaching degree. But when it comes to UX design, there’s no specific degree — at least yet — so it can be hard to know where to start.

Equally, if you’re already working in UX design, the path to promotion isn’t so clear either.

A UX designer has to deal with a wide variety of softwares and programs, meaning there are many technical skills that they must use. This can mystify the career trajectory, as some organizations adopt different systems to others, or pick different skills from the ever-growing pool to favor.

Equally, due to the huge boom in interest in UX jobs, competition is hotter than ever. So, to achieve some much-needed headway and take control of your career, it’s worth swatting up on these tips.

5 ways to influence your career path as a UX designer

1. Practice user-centric thinking

Without getting too philosophical, mindset is a powerful thing.

And when it comes to UX, how you think can be the difference between making it or breaking it.

UX Thinking (UXT for short) is a process model used by product managers to plan and execute digital development projects. To be a UX designer means putting your ego aside and accepting feedback. It means to view people in the world as valuable assets, and come up with solutions to their problems.

Failure to do so will move your focus away from the problem at hand, and how can you design a solution if you don’t understand the problem?

Practicing this people-centric way of thinking everyday will equip you with the empathy needed to provide effective solutions — the bread and butter of UX — and drive your career path forwards. Even if you’ve never so much as touched a wireframe in your life, you can evidence the right UX mindset, with examples of user-centric solutions from past professional experience.

2. Get some form of UX qualification under your belt

Unlike other tech fields, there’s no ‘must have’ educational background for UX design. But high school and college qualifications surely won’t go amiss.

Better yet, an Associate of Arts degree in a certain field, such as graphic design or web design, will give you a foundation to break into the industry and start building your knowledge.

And if you really want to hit the ground running, it’s worth getting a certification in UX.

Just like a college degree or diploma, a UX certification proves you’ve mastered all the main principles, skills, and techniques that are key to usability design, such as user research, information architecture, wireframing, prototyping, and testing.

There’s a whole range of options, from online courses to in-person workshops. But before you part with your hard-earned money, ensure the UX certification is legitimate, practical (incorporates hands-on work) and credible.

3. Learn the tools of the trade

A UX design role will ask you to draw from many different competencies, but there are a few particular hard skills you should train on as priority.

UX designers can pick very different paths when it comes to programs they use, but the most common ones tend to be:

  • Photoshop
  • Sketch
  • Illustrator
  • InVision

Learning the basics of this software will ensure you can carry out most UX design tasks with ease, and help you understand what’s possible from a technological perspective.

Notice how we haven’t mentioned code yet? Interesting, isn’t it?

One big misconception with anything computer design-related is that you have to know JavaScript like the back of your hand, or practice CSS in your sleep. However, UX designers rarely carry out complex coding, meaning it’s not essential if you’re to climb the career ladder.

Sure, if you’re curious about learning a language like PHP, Rails or Python, it’s not going to be time wasted. But you’re probably better off building your skills on the design programs mentioned above first.

4. Read, read, read

UX design is a constantly evolving field. Updated software, new technologies, and a world of innovation make the task of a UX designer increasingly complex.

So, if you’re to keep abreast of an ever-changing industry and compete with like-minded designers, you’ve got to turn (or scroll) the pages. Reading thought leadership content and expert research papers is a great place to learn UX design and new techniques.

Whether it’s an industry publication or an online blog, you’ll be able to learn about new theories, frequent issues, and current trends in the industry. And apply what you’ve learned to your own, day to day work.

5. Get a mentor

No career path is navigated alone.

In a fast-paced industry like tech, where unexpected twists often crop up, you’re probably going to be challenged and tested in entirely new ways. Having an experienced mentor by your side is key to keeping you on the right track.

Here at MentorCruise, we have a pool of ready and willing experienced UX design mentors committed to doing just that.

With their help, experience, advice and personal guidance, your journey up the UX design ladder will be a smooth and seamless one. What are you waiting for? Partner up with your mentor today.

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